Say hello to Susha!
Jazz artiste and performer Susha is all set to mesmerise the audience as she takes the stage for her first solo gig titled Hello, in Chennai
Musician and visual artiste, Susha was introduced to music when she was all of six years old. In 2012, she did her Masters in Jazz at the University of Toronto. Susha is currently focused on her original music: jazz/Indian-inspired songwriting in English and Tamil. Ahead of her first solo performance in Chennai, titled Hello, we speak to Susha to understand what Jazz essentially entails, her process of composition and why she chooses no label/genre to define her.
How did you get interested in jazz?
I grew up learning hardcore Indian classical music; I have been training to be a Carnatic musician for a very long time. Growing up, I was really interested in different styles of music. I would invest effort and time into learning the nuances of different ways of vocalising while I was taking a combination of Carnatic and Hindustani, Western Classical classes. My whole approach to music has been very eclectic. In college, I joined a band called Yodhakaa, and we made some really wonderful world music. That inspired me to learn more about the concept of harmony and I knew jazz was what I had to learn to be able to understand the wonderful world of harmony and melody. I went to the University of Toronto for a three-year Masters course and just immersed myself into the world of jazz.
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A lot of people don’t understand jazz, or think it is western music. Can you explain?
People can naively or very innocently misunderstand jazz to be something like pop. In my opinion, jazz is such a cool genre of music because it incorporates the theory and the intellectual aspects of harmony. It drew a lot of inspiration from the blues, and then there was the Broadway style which I feel is like a mix of jazz and pop. But it (jazz) suddenly came on its own to be a very intellectual pursuit of harmony. What attracted me to it was the fact that it allowed a lot of room for improvisation — which isn’t something that you find in western music.
What is your genre?
I think a lot of artistes don’t really like to label themselves in a particular genre. We really like being in the space of non-definition. All I can say is that I am really inspired by jazz Bossa Nova , the rhythm from Afro Cuban, and Latin percussion; I draw from all these kinds of music styles, but I am definitely rooted in Indian Carnatic music. I like to listen to different artistes, vocalise in different ways; I also love listening to music in different languages; I like the sound of Portuguese music. So I wouldn’t knowingly be able to put myself in a genre. I just call myself a jazz and Indian Bossa nova and world music influenced indie musician.
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What’s your process when you compose?
I like to compose in a very organic way. I usually compose with my guitar, so it’s a voice and guitar process where I am either really hooked on to a tiny little progression that I have discovered or have a small melodic idea, or a little set of words/syllables/sounds that I start stringing together, and when I find the place where these three lock, I try to build the song based on either an experience that I have had or something I am thinking of or excavating from within me.
What can the audience look forward to from your solo performance in the city?
It’s the first time I am playing a solo set, and I am excited about it. I feel like I am finding my solo expression very charming to myself, and since it’s my own music, I want to invest in it. Being on stage is a vulnerable moment, but like I said, I am very excited. The performance is titled Hello which is also the title of one of my songs that I will be performing. The show is going to be a mixture of English and Tamil indie music.
Rs 200. March 18. 6.30 pm.
At Alchemy Black Box Studio.