Updated: Jun 13, 2020
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has brought the world to a standstill. With everybody staying at home, one might feel like breaking the ‘CAGE’ of frustration and rediscovering themselves. Indo-American singer-songwriter Subhi has encapsulated this idea in her new Hindi single CAGE. A graduate in Finance, ‘music’ was Subhi’s true calling. Trained in Indian classical and western music styles, the multifaceted musician loves to experiment and fuse genres. In an exclusive interview with Music Beat, Subhi talks about her single, CAGE, love for modern pop, her various achievements, and more!
When did the bug of singing bite you? Did you always want to become a singer?
I was eight when I started receiving training in Hindustani Classical music and that’s how my interest in music developed. But I had no plans of being a singer. I graduated with a degree in Finance and was doing a corporate job when I realized I wasn’t happy and wanted to do something creative. I quit my job to discover my passion. It wasn’t until I tried out a few different careers that I realized music is my true passion and once I discovered it, there was no going back.
Your debut album was Shaitaan Dil and now you have released CAGE. Can you take us through your journey of music?
My musical journey has been quite an unpredictable and exciting experience. My debut album Shaitaan Dil is a Hindi Pop Jazz Album. I knew Chicago is known for its Jazz and Blues. When I moved to Chicago, I wanted to experiment and collaborate with local musicians there. Since a lot of my Hindi songs have a nice swing to them, I thought they would lend themselves well to Jazz. So I released a few singles with Jazz musicians without any intensions of creating an album. I got such a wonderful response on the singles that I decided to compile my songs into a project and that’s how Shaitaan Dil happened. My debut album release show was co-presented by The Jazz Institute of Chicago and I performed songs from the album at some of the most prestigious venues in the US.
After touring the US, I decided to try out a different sound. Cage has a nice underlying modern pop beat with an overall chill vibe. I love listening to modern pop music and want to work with different producers on my upcoming projects. Cage is a song in that new direction. For me, CAGE equals to writer's block. When I can’t create music, I feel I am in a cage. In a time like this, we are all somehow caged both physically and to some extent mentally. There are times when I feel my thoughts, ideas, and emotions are blocked in some way. It’s as if I am in some sort of rut. CAGE is a song about being frustrated when you are blocked from doing something you love. The song also celebrates the joy you get once you break free of these limitations. It’s about me wanting to be free with no psychological strings attached, so I can fly and re-discover myself.
You have collaborated with designer Alysia Fischer for CAGE. How was the association?
It was wonderful working with Alysia Fischer on Cage. She is such a talented designer who reuses and repurposes the rubber which is part of the inner tubes of tires and other things. Pulkit Datta, the director of my music video knew about Alysia and her work. We reached out to her and she loved the concept of the music video and the message the song sends out. It was a great collaboration where we got to show her meaningful art in a video that talks about rediscovering yourself as you get out of a cage. We wanted the music video to have an edge and I feel her accessories have really helped us get that.
What would you call your style of singing?
I think my singing style is some sort of a fusion between Indian Bollywood with a western touch. Since I have been trained in both India and the US, it has influenced my singing style.
Have you taken formal training in classic singing?
Yes, I received training in Hindustani Classical Music during my Childhood. In the U.S., I have worked with a few vocal coaches. My current vocal coach is trained in Opera and working with him has helped improve my vocal range and singing ability.
You also write your own songs
Yes, I write all my songs - lyrics, melodies, and at times co-produce my songs as well.
Your musical work was featured on the Emmy award-winning show ‘Asian Influences’ and nominated at Chicago Music Awards. How proud do you feel?
Yeah, it was great to be featured on the Emmy-award winning show ‘Asian Influences’. Each year, they up pick five artists and showcase their journeys on The Walt Disney subsidiary ‘ABC 7 Chicago'. It was an honor to be one of their selected artists. I was the only artist invited to perform at ABC studios in Chicago and the experience was incredible. I was also very happy to be nominated as ‘Best Asian Entertainer 2019’ by the Chicago Music Awards.
Your song ‘Lovely’ was featured in an Indian feature film ‘Sunny Side Upar’
Yes, Lovely was a part of the super cute short film, Sunny Side Upar directed by Vijayeta Kumar and produced by Anurag Kashyap. I am grateful that Lovely was also the title track of the series, Zindagi In Shorts by Flipkart in partnership with Sikhya Entertainment. It feels amazing when a song you create is loved and appreciated by so many people. I feel blessed to have got such wonderful opportunities to showcase my work.
How much influence does music style from the US has an influence on your work?
I have collaborated and worked with musicians and producers in the US. Working with people from different musician genres - Jazz, Folk and Pop has definitely influenced the way I perceive and create music.
Are you looking forward to more projects in India, especially Bollywood playback singing?
I am looking forward to working with India based producers for my upcoming tracks. I would also love to experiment and collaborate with Indie artists in India. I love Bollywood and it’ll be amazing to sing for Bollywood composers.
Are there more solo projects in the pipeline?
Yes! I am currently working on my Debut English EP which I will be releasing this fall.
How do you see the future of indie music in India?
This is a time when Indie Music in India is creating its own place. Indie artists are carving out ways to make their presence felt and I feel in the coming years Indie music in India will flourish and grow into a big industry.
Any Indian singer, you want to work with?
I want to work with Indian singers like Mali, Yellow Diary, Hanita Bhambri, Ankur Tewari
Lastly, where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
In five years from now, I see myself as an established Indie multilingual artist in both the US and India.
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