Aditya Rao's Carnatic Shape of You goes viral
It was back in 2013 that Manmohini Morey, a collaboration between Aditya Rao and performer Shankar Tucker, went viral, shooting the young singer to instant fame. Today, four years later, Aditya is once again in the spotlight — his latest video, a Carnatic version of the Ed Sheeran hit Shape of You, garnering over three million hits in three days after its recent launch online. A production by Indian Raga, it features Sriram Emani (the founder and CEO) and musicians Mahesh Raghvan and Vinod Krishnan, apart from Aditya.
The US-based singer tells us that inspiration struck when he was cleaning his house, and the song was playing over the speakers at home. “I found myself humming a Carnatic version of the track,” he tells us, adding, “I was already in talks with Sriram of Indian Raga to collaborate and come up with something unique. All of us ideated concepts via Google Hangouts, and my pitch for the Carnatic version of Shape of You appealed to everyone.”
Born in Bengaluru, Aditya left to Pittsburgh in the US, when he was seven. Hailing from a family of musicians (his mother is a trained veena player), his music lessons with his guru, city-based K Ramesh, during summer vacations. “Back when I was a child, international calls were expensive and with no Skype, my lessons used to be through 90-minute recorded cassettes that my guru used to send by post. I’d listen to his rendition, learn it, tape my version and send it back to him,” says Aditya whose day job involves business development for a Hollywood brand marketing and celebrity PR agency. The lessons happen over Skype now, smiles the 29-year-old, adding that while Carnatic will always be his base, his sound has evolved over the years. “I’ve been trained in opera, theatre, chamber choir, and jazz. I also am a trained percussionist and have been part of multiple bands through high school.”
Although collaborations are his core strength (check out his mashups with Dr Srimix, an emerging DJ/music producer in the US), Aditya dabbled with playback singing too, starting off with a Kannada song, following which he went on to sing for AR Rahman in I (Aila Aila), which made him much sought after, for stage shows, especially.
Why do you want to be a musician/singer? “Until a few years ago, when someone asked me this, I didn’t have an answer. Now I’ve realised that I am most happy when I am working on music: practising swarams, thinking of new mashup ideas, or meeting fellow musicians and listening to their stories. The music I create today comes from truly believing in my work,” he signs off.