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Susheela Ramanm, a Narada World artist, with her second album release: Love Trap, is a phenomenal singer who spans the globe without a miss in her step or, for that matter, her voice. She stopped for a few minutes and gave us a quick update about her new album and her views about the music world at large. Here is the transcript of the phone conversation. Enjoy!
AV: Why don't we start with what was the purpose of your visit to NYC and whats going on with you?
SR: Well this was my first time in NY and we just got a new management company out here called Uprise Management and it is really exciting for us because they are very energetic. They organized a small East Coast tour for us - we started off in Canada, then we went to DC, then to New York to play at Joe's Pub. So, this was to get our foot in the door with an initial trip to NYC. Just having fun and playing the stuff from the new album.
AV: Cool! talking about the album actually: what do you think is different or similar between Salt Rain and your new one Love Trap?
SR: I think the main thing is that, this one is more live and energetic, it is very real and intense.
AV: Were you trying to take a different direction with it, in any way?
SR: No, not necessarily a different direction, I think a lot of things are the same. I just wanted to capture more of the live energy because we had been playing a lot of live shows.
AV: I read a review online that said that you were possibly aiming more for the mass market - could you respond to that?
SR: No, not at all - of course if we get a bigger audience then it will be great but, I am in no way compromising my style or changing it to deliberately target the mass market. I am not trying to create commercial music - it's emotional and real.
AV: So, on the other side of it - I have read that you dont feel part of the Asian Massive/Underground scene as much - so what does that scene signify to you - that you feel outside of it?
SR: See I think that that scene is a media invented idea. I mean if you take all the people who are supposedly part of that scene and compare their music, it's very different from each other. That title gives this illusion that it isn't. That, the music began with people trying to start a scene for the sake of having a scene; which it's completely not. It was just a bunch of individuals who were just South Asian people making music. I just happen to be another one - I am doing my own thing like everyone else.
AV: Alright, take a gander at what you would define your music as? Where would you catalogue it?
SR: Oh - hmm that's a difficult one. I think the best one would be Global Soul.
AV: That actually sounds perfect! On the global note - in your singing you pull from a lot of different languages? Do you actually speak all of them?
SR: Hmm, No. Well I speak Tamil and obviously English fluently - but, you know when you learn music and especially Carnatic music with all the taals you learn to use Sanskrit; and Sankskrit isn't a spoken tongue - it's like Latin - but the musical education you get when you are using that language you can pretty much apply to all the languages out there. There is a musical terminology that you become familiar with which applies to very easily to other languages that you are singing - and that terminology I have been learning since I was very young.
AV: Ok, since you are creating music which is fusion all across the board - do you feel that, with the critical acclaim all the fusionists are receiving these days, that the traditionality is being lost a little bit?
SR: No absolutely not. It is being recreated and being kept alive in a different way. It is almost starting new "traditions." If you think about it, all this "traditional" music is being enjoyed by a whole list of new people; it is actually spreading the music rather then losing it. And, I don't think it affects the tradition itself because ultimately it is not going to affect what people do in India.
AV: Changing topics to your band members, how much credit would you give your band members, specifically Sam Mills, you have mentioned his name many other times, in bridging the gap between East and West?
SR: My band members, as with Sam Mills, are very instrumental in that fusion aspect. They are all very much involved with the work and its production. But, since you asked specifically about Sam - here is an example: he just produced another album by this Bengali singer named Paban Das Baul - who is a Baul singer from the Baul tradition - which just happens to be a phenomenal record. So, he is a very talented individual and I would say really that we are equal partners in our work and that we just work very well together.
AV: Actually in your albums there is always a whole slew of musicians you have worked with - how does that all pan out? Is there an organization to it?
SR: See the people on the album are all the people who we meet along the way and we feel inspired by; so it's all a very organic and natural process of how they end up on the album - nothing is really planned out.
AV: Going off beat a bit here, I have read that you think of urself more as a pop singer then say an Asian Massive one. I'd say your music is a bit different then say Brittney Spears - How would you define that?
SR: See, even though I am singing in all these different tongues, there is a definite urban edge to my music. I was born and raised in a big city: London and my music is inspired by places like that and the urban reality that exists in them: the reality, in the sense that their are people of all these different cultures, who come from all these different places but are so sewn together in their goals and practices, all in one place. So, my attempt to present this urban reality is what I think makes my music pop. I am just trying to bring out something that is already there and I am making it accessible to everyone out there - thus, making it pop.
AV: Ok, Susheela, thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule for us.
SR: Ok thank you for having me. Bye!
More Info: Narada World