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Singer-Songwriter Surya Gets Introspective on New Album ‘Collage’

The artist ties together hip-hop and R&B instrumentation on his latest record

David Britto Mar 23, 2021

Chennai-born and London-based singer-songwriter Surya. Photo: Sergio Lopez

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At the age of 10, Chennai-born singer-songwriter Surya Varatharajan – who goes by his first name – relocated to London with his family due to his dad’s work. While in India, Surya was enrolled in Carnatic music classes and the artist picked up hip-hop and R&B growing up in the U.K. He says, “Amidst all of the listening, I felt the need to write for myself.”

Following the release of his 2017 debut album Adolessence, Surya found his music picked up by BBC radio shows as well as BBC’s Asian Network. Earlier this year, the artist released a single titled “U ME WE,” penned about his upbringing in Chennai and move to the U.K., which is also off his just-released sophomore record Collage.

Surya initially began work on Collage in 2018 and tapped into personal emotions for the project. According to the artist, the dreamy “That Thing” grapples with “the pros and cons of having the desire to pursue a meaningful relationship” while the groovy “Rainy Daze” is about “the desire to open up and share built-up pain.”

Surya reels off the artists that influenced his sound for the album, from Kanye West, Lauryn Hill, The Neptunes to Justin Timberlake, 9th Wonder, Destiny’s Child, Wu-Tang Clan and Frank Ocean. He says, “Jay Z, D’ Angelo, Prince and Michael Jackson serve as musical benchmarks that I keep in mind whenever I put the pen to the pad.” Surya adds, “Through this project, I wanted to pay homage to the artists who have continually inspired me and hopefully show that I can hold my own when placed next to them.”

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Collage was recorded at London’s Roundhouse Studios and mixed by city-based engineer Ajinkya ‘AJ’ Patil. “He also served as the co-executive producer of this project,” says Surya. With a music video for “U ME WE” already out, Surya is plotting more clips for the songs from the album. On what’s in the pipeline, he says, “Collaborations with other artists and I am also working on some other stuff, though it’s in the early stages, I’m liking where it’s going.”

Watch the video for “U ME WE” below and stream ‘Collage’ here

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