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Meet NEXA Music Top 24 Artist: Susha

The Chennai vocalist tells us about how she found herself with jazz

Riddhi Chakraborty Feb 20, 2020

While Indian classical music was the foundation of her artistry, Susha feels that she truly found herself with jazz. Photo: Vidhyalakshmi Vijaykumar

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It might come as a surprise to many that Chennai neo-jazz vocalist Subhiksha Rangarajan’s journey started a little more on the traditional side. “I come from a family of South Indian classical musicians and I started learning music at the age of five, so there was never any doubt in my mind,” says Rangarajan, better known by her stage name Susha. “I always knew I wanted to be a singer, a performer.”

While Indian classical music was the foundation of her artistry, Susha feels that she truly found herself with jazz. “As I grew in music, I found composing to be the most beautiful, obvious next phase of expressions for myself, so I did a masters in jazz at the University of Toronto, and ever since, I have been writing my own music.”

The appreciation for indie artists in the country is limited, and even more so when it comes to artists like Susha who perform niche genres like neo-jazz. Last year the singer began her journey with NEXA Music, a  nationwide hunt for English-language artists led by celebrated music director A.R. Rahman and producer Clinton Cerejo. “Clinton and his team were amazing to work with, and they brought their own flavor into my song,” she says about her time being mentored by Cerejo. “Anytime I get to work with new musicians is an absolute treat and to have someone with so much experience in music production appreciate and work on your track is lovely! I am guessing we will get mentored by A.R. sir too, so I am really looking forward to that. I have done several small vocal bits for him in the past and would love to show him this side of my musicianship.”

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For the auditions, Susha submitted her self-written single “Different” and then cruised into the Top 24. “It’s a personal note asking people to leave room in the world for different kinds of thinkers,” she explains about the track. “There have been many points in my life where I have felt judged and misrepresented, so I wrote this song, encouraging people to see the person within and not be quick to form opinions based solely on things we disagreed on.”

When it comes to more opportunities in the industry, Susha feels NEXA Music is a welcome initiative to help make that happen. “Any platform that supports independent music is great for the scene right now. The entertainment industry which is usually dominated by cinema and cinema music, is now seeing tonnes of musicians want to write their own music, and the more representation we get, the more we reach out to the people we write for.”

As for 2020, the vocalist refuses to give out too many details, but reassures that she has a lot planned. “I have a selection of new songs I am writing and hope to release an album later this year.”

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