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American-Tamil Soul/Jazz Artist Sarayu Unleashes Powerhouse Vocals on New Song ‘Electric’

The San Diego-based Indian-origin singer and composer recently won a competition to get her song mixed by Derek Ali, who has worked with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, SZA and more

Anurag Tagat Dec 11, 2020

Indo-American soul singer Sarayu. Photo: Ryan Joseph

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Trained in Bharatnatyam dance, Indo-American artist Sarayu Srinivasan (who goes by her first name) understood the importance of expression, storytelling and Carnatic music. Born in New Jersey to parents from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the singer would often learn devotional songs or Carnatic compositions on trips to India, from her grandparents. 

She says, “Singing was a way to bridge many of the generational gaps between me and older family members. I may not have spoken Hindi or Tamil, but it was definitely a way for my family to pass down traditional music and to connect on a deeper level.” 

Simultaneously, Sarayu began western classical vocal lessons when she was six years old, describing singing and music as a “constant passion.” In October last year, she released “For You” and followed it up with a freestyle track “10pm is SD.” Now, her third single “Electric” allows Sarayu to showcase herself with an all-out powerhouse soul/hip-hop earworm, while the forthcoming music video incorporates elements of Indian culture, including Bharatnatyam. 

Having its beginnings in March this year, the song’s chorus bears a lyrical nod to a “virus” and an “epidemic” but there’s more to it than just being topical. Sarayu says, “We can find power and strength within times of turbulence and adversity. That’s truly what I wanted the song to convey.” While the track features production by Pacific Beats, “Electric” got a boost when Sarayu won a contest hosted by ace sound engineer Derek Ali aka Mixed By Ali last month and sat in for a live mixing session. 

Sarayu Mixed By Ali

Indian-origin artist Sarayu Srinivasan (right) with sound engineer Derek Ali. Photo: Jordan Rodriguez

Sarayu is particularly proud that she received support and votes from fellow South Asian origin artists who were glad to see an Indian woman represented via the contest. Ali, who has sat at the boards for hip-hop heavyweights such as Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and more, says he took immediate cognizance of Sarayu’s vocal performance. He adds, “Specifically, how polished her recording sounded for such a new artist — it was very impressive and I instantly knew that I had to work with her. I preach this to new artists all the time: first impressions are very important, and that’s one thing Sarayu had on lock.” 

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Sarayu is now on to working on her first EP, which is slated to release early next year. Training with soul vocal coach Ellisha McKinney aka Teapot, the artist is powering on with the intent of remaining true to her American and Indian identity. She says about possibly adding Indian elements, “[Indian] languages are thousands of years old and it is vital that they are pronounced correctly and accurately. Because I am not well-versed in Tamil or any Indian language as of now, I think my first step would be to collaborate with other South Asian artists who know the language super well and can do it justice.” 

Stream “Electric” below and on more platforms here. Tune in to the music video on December 12th IST here.

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