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Sooraj Santhosh Crafts Shapeshifting, Experimental Pop Ode on ‘Isai’

The Kerala artist extols the virtues of forming a lifelong connection with music, featuring singer Sayanora Philip and producer Varkey

Anurag Tagat Feb 05, 2022

Malayalam artist Sooraj Santhosh. Photo: Sujith Surendran

Singer-composer Sooraj Santhosh narrates his journey and deep attachment to music in a nearly rational manner on his latest single “Isai.” The track is the fourth single off his multilingual album The Gypsy Sun.

Santhosh worked with go-to producer Varkey and singer Sayanora Philip on the mesmeric, mystique-heavy Tamil pop song. While Varkey and Sayanora have previously earned acclaim for their upbeat earworm “Benki Boom” in 2019, “Isai” sees them enhance the brooding, soul-searching atmosphere. Santhosh says, “‘Isai’ is all about a personal journey from sound to vibrations to music and what I go through each time this happens.” Giving voice to lyrics written by Girishh Gopal, he sings about the bridge where sound, vibrations and language meet and music is created, plus how much he needs music in his life. He sings, “Dhegam Sellum Dhisai Engum Unnnai Thodarum Nizhal Pola.” (Wherever I went it followed me like a beautiful shadow).

Bearing trap flourishes and an ominous piano melody, “Isai” is accompanied by a dark, cinematic music video directed by Manu Hassan, complete with VFX and engrossing cinematography. Similar to his artwork for The Gypsy Sun, Santhosh is seen with his face painted in different, seemingly tribal art motifs. “Isai” follows previous singles including the folk-pop tune “Thani Malayalam,” the fusion/hip-hop Hindi song “Banarasiya” featuring New Delhi rapper Insanoid and the classical guitar-driven “Harinamakeerthanam,” a rendition of a Malayalam philosophical text.

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Santhosh previously told Rolling Stone India about The Gypsy Sun, “It is a reflection of all that I am and everything that made me who I am. It has a multi-genre sound and you may find that it comes under alternative, world music genres in terms of sound and music production.”

Watch the video for “Isai” below.

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