‘People always respond to voices with warmth and different textures’

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Susheela Raman 40, Musician
Susheela Raman 40, Musician

What’s your new album all about and how is it different from the others you have produced?
Queen Between is a record that reflects the fact that I have been writing songs and at the same time travelling to Rajasthan and Pakistan and working with musicians such as the Rizwan-Muazzam Qawaals, Kutle Khan, and the amazing Rana Ram Bhil from the Thar desert. Lyrically, some of the songs have a kind of fascination with the whole notion of boundaries, ritual and identity.

You’ve always blended different music from across the world. Is it something you strive towards consciously?
It seemed normal to me for music to get mixed together because I was myself a bit of a mixture. Growing up in Australia, I was exposed to a variety of music from early on (music on the TV and radio) including Carnatic music and Vedic chants at home. And then I started to play everything like rock and funk. So I was constantly learning.

The typical Bollywood-playback voice still rules popularity charts…
People will always respond to voices with warmth and different textures. I think even in Bollywood terms there are other voices coming through. And the fact that people liked Coke Studio so much was a sign that they wanted to hear something a bit earthy or rockier.

You crowdsourced your new album. Why did you decide to fund it in that manner?
Making a proper album is a labour of love and it’s expensive! It was about getting the money to record without having to sell your rights to a record company. Also, it was about not having to finance it yourself and struggling because of that.

Do you feel you’re still stuck in the “yeh mera deewanapan” image as far as audiences are concerned?
The Ye mera thing only applies to the Hindi-speaking areas, not outside India or in the south or in Bengal. People catch up with the music in their own time. Ye mera was released in 2003 and didn’t get popular here until a couple of years ago. I have released seven albums so far. Who knows which song is suddenly going to catch the fancy of people next? That’s not the kind of thing you can control, it happens by itself.

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