Sooraj is a singer/songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist from Mumbai, India. He has played keys since one and a half, and guitar since he was 9. His musical influences range from Indian Classical Scales, to Mozart, to artist such as The Beatles and John Mayer. Sooraj is currently studying at the Musicians Institue in Los Angeles and continues to passionately make music.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music?
I've been into music for as long as I can remember - since the age of one. When it comes to writing my own songs, however, I'd say that I started writing songs after a five-week scholarship program at Berklee College of Music, Boston. I attended a songwriting clinic there, and thought "hey, maybe I can do this too!" And within a few hours after getting back home, I penned the first draft of a song that I could call my own!
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
I've had a drunk police constable try and stop my performance on the streets back in Mumbai, India, where I'm from - even though I was busking on behalf of an organisation, which had a busking license and all the necessary permits. Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for me), the crowd was loving the performance so much, that they kept cheering for me to continue, and soon, he figured out that it was wiser to quietly slink off than to interrupt my performance!
What has been the high point of your music path?
There have been many! Of late though - releasing my first ever single along with its music video, has been one of them. And also coming to Los Angeles to study music.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I usually start with a groove or a melody - and occasionally with a lyric. The melody then "speaks" to me, like a mood or a topic that I feel it conveys. I free-write for a while, exploring that topic, and how it could be related to other things -- or I come up with a chorus which really defines what the song is going to be about. And after that it's just a matter of structuring the lyrics to match the chords or melody.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
One of the biggest challenges I see is the low revenue cut from streaming services. I think we'd all be happier if that could be bumped up just a little bit.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
John Mayer. He's been my idol for songwriting since I got into the process of writing my own songs. And his music is insanely good.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
It's very different, back in India and over here. Back in India, I had a set five-piece band, which I used to carry around with me. I'm still figuring my way around over here - I played a gig at a local venue in LA recently with a few people from music school, who I asked to accompany me, and the biggest challenge was coordinating everyone's schedules. But even though we managed to practice once a week for three weeks, everyone worked super hard, and had a great time rehearsing and came through magnificently in the end. One thing to expect during rehearsals is a lot of bad jokes or puns from me - which can be a little frustrating for some people I think!
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
I'd say it's the song called "Awake." It's a song that refers to nightmares as a metaphor for difficult times in life - and how we've got to remember that nightmares only last until we come awake. Getting the exact words and emotions down for that song was definitely one of the most difficult things for me to do!
What's coming up in the future?
I'm hoping to finish writing and start recording my LP by the end of this year! And after that, it's going to be all about releasing it, promoting it and being a proud indie artist.
Tell us where fans can access your music