Interview with Aditi Ramesh

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Aditi Ramesh is a singer- songwriter who grew up in Buffalo, New York and was trained in Carnatic vocals and Western classical piano. She is a part of four prominent bands in India including Aditi Ramesh Ensemble, Ladies Compartment and Voctronica. Inspired by diverse cultures of music along with her organic explorations of varied soundscape, she writes songs about self expression, women in society and continues to inspire numerous female artists in India today.

We caught up with Aditi Ramesh to find out more:

1. Your music brings the world of Carnatic and Jazz together, tell us what it’s like to work on a song with your bandmates and what do you like most about co-writing in such ensemble.

It’s a lot of fun working on songs with my bandmates because they each have their own ideas, style and sensibilities to bring to each piece. I really love when I present to them the feel and sound I’m going for in different parts of the song and they each have their own touches and interpretation to my larger idea. Then the songs kind of come together step by step as a combination of a variety of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic elements and none of us know how the final product will sound until we get there together.

2. After your debut release Efflux of Time, You are not so wise now and now to Leftovers- EP what has changed for you as an artist and what was the most memorable part in the journey so far?

I think through the process of each of these releases my sound got more refined and I started to be more clear and articulate about my sound and what I’m going for with each track. My first EP was a total experiment by a person who didn’t know exactly what they were going for (and I love that because it is so raw and allowed me to experiment and find fresh sounds organically without trying to sound like anyone else). With the later releases it was less haphazard and I’m slowly starting to find the sound of Aditi Ramesh, the artist. I still haven’t found it fully, and you’ll see with the new music I’m working on that I’m still trying to venture into new spaces and make them my own. But I find that I am more confident and less afraid with each new song. I can’t even pick a most memorable part because every part of this journey has been significant and memorable. I’m excited about the future and further musical exploration and growth.

3. What are 3 things you have re-imagined between a pre-Corona world and the current lockdown?

Before Corona hit I was looking forward to a lot of international touring this year and moving towards it becoming a more regular thing for me rather than one off tours. I was to tour Turkey with my band in March, the UK with Voctronica (we were singing with Shaan on his UK tour), I had put together an ensemble in London to do my own Aditi UK tour post the Shaan gigs, and I was also going to perform in Taiwan at a festival with Voctronica in May. As this was all planned just up till May, I was sure the year would bring even more such opportunities. I think since Corona hit I’ve completely shifted my priorities. I used to look externally towards performing on big festival stages in India and touring abroad as milestones and accomplishments. I’ve shifted now towards working on my singing and playing focusing on practice, and creating music for its own sake rather than to show on paper that I’ve had x number of releases in y amount of time. It’s been very therapeutic. This time has brought about some really amazing music from Indian artists who are organised with regular releases and a plan. I’ve not been putting pressure on myself to do so, but have rather been taking my time with it. If nothing we have an abundance of time right now and no one is going anywhere. I do have a number of new songs that are being worked on right now but I’m in no rush to release them. They’ll be ready when they’re ready, and that doesn’t mean I’m not working on them and exploring musically. I’ve also started teaching vocals in this time and it’s really helping me discover my own voice in a completely different way.

4. In the digital world when it’s so easy to put out music and get lost and found, what are three important things to keep in mind as an artiste?

I think the most important thing is to take your time and not rush into releasing just for its own sake because whatever you put out there is going to be there permanently and shape how you are seen as an artist. We all keep evolving with time, so taking your time with each song will give the songs the space to grow to their full potential. The shelf life of released music has anyway become so short so you want to make sure what you put out is the best quality it can be. Secondly I think it’s important to not try to sound like an artist you look up to. You can and will take inspiration from other artists because our musical taste is a culmination of our interests and influences, but try not to emulate any particular artist but rather to find your own voice as an artist and sing and play from the heart. Really meaning what you say when you convey lyrics and singing about things that you truly feel help with this a lot. Lastly don’t ever worry about the audience when creating music. Don’t worry about which kinds of people will like it, whether changing aspects of the song will make it more popular or better/more widely received, or whether something you’re doing will be polarising with an audience. You do not create art to please an audience, but you do it to express yourself and because the process of creating art is a beautiful one for yourself. If you don’t think about any of these things chances are more people will connect to your music because it’ll be more genuine. And don’t worry about the numbers. You’d rather truly touch and connect with a smaller number of people than make something generic which is more popular and then more quickly forgotten as well.

5. The synch world has multiple opportunities in the west and is now slowly opening up in India. Where do you think your music could fit into the scheme of things in this world?

Since my music is an amalgamation of many different styles of music I feel like it could be relatable both to Indian as well as global audiences/markets. While I don’t make music keeping this in mind specifically, I definitely think my music could work well for web series that are now being widely made directly for OTT platforms as well as in ad campaigns in different parts of the world.