Acid jazz, lounge bhajans & upside down GoPro footage?
Kedharnath Sairam's new album Black Whole, much like its name, promises to suck you in
From upside-down GoPro footage on a bicycle to a collage of footage from old Bagyaraj movies — composer Kedharnath Sairam’s music videos are trippy even on mute. His brand new album which dropped two weeks ago under the pseudonym Radar with a K, is called Black Whole. And much like its name, it promises to suck you in.
With collaborations featuring 12 artistes between Chennai and Cincinnati — the list includes homegrown names like violinist Shravan Sridhar and singers Gowtham Bharadwaj and Vandana Srinivasan, as well as rapper Jay Hill and saxophonist Jennifer Simone.
Expect eclectic arrangements covering everything from soft instrumental jazz to Tamil electro funk and lounge bhajans put together over two years. “It’s got seven songs and with a full-time job as an aerospace engineer, as you can imagine, there was a lot of coordination and planning that went into it,” says the 30-year-old, who hails from Chennai and lives in Cincinnati with his wife Sarah and two dogs, Jilebi and Masala.
A noteworthy bit of trivia is that around the same time that he began composing and arranging tracks for the album in 2016, he was also the youngest on a team of engineers hired to improve the aerodynamics on the bobsled for the US Winter Olympics team! So co-ordinating with musicians across time zones and two continents — might just have been a whole lot easier in comparison!
Recorded over Skype sessions, bedroom jams and professional studio hours — look out for tracks like the psychedelic Vilaiyadu (sung by Gowtham Bharadwaj), a soulful Vizhi (Harish Manigandan & Shravan Sridhar) and Bicycle Blasphemies, a lounge-style saxophone composition (performed by Jennifer Simone). The latter has striking footage shot by pro-cycling athlete Jamie Anderson. “He is a friend of mine and about a year ago, he came home after his cross-country cycling expedition with a hard drive filled with GoPro footage of his escapades,” Kedhar recalls. He adds with a laugh, “I never gave that hard drive back.” At the time, Kedhar was still learning how to use editing software and hadn’t figured out how to rotate the clips, eventually, he did but didn’t like it as much.
With a new band in the pipeline and a hip-hop EP in the works, featuring MC Chetan sometime, early next year, we’re curious about one last thing before we sign off. Why Radar with a K? He responds with a fun backstory: “When I first moved to the US in 2009, I got tired of explaining to Americans the correct pronunciation of my name, Kedhar. Until one day, I discovered the best way to describe it in a way that was easy to grasp by Americans was to mention that it sounds like Radar with a K. That stuck and eventually became my composer/producer pseudonym!”
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