|Photo Savannah Stone|
So, let's see what happens when Varsha visits Section 36 Music!
I absolutely loved your recently released album, “Monsoon”. What can you tell me about it?
Thank you, I’m so glad you like it! This album is really important to me, as it’s my first look into a fusion Indian sound. Having grown up in a number of different places (US, China, Singapore, with parents from India), I’ve spent so long trying to prove to people that I am from only one place or another. But recently, I have been relearning and allowing myself to enjoy the culture that I inherited, and as a songwriter I process and channel this growth through music. It has been so amazing to collaborate with some of the most amazing Indian musicians I know, and learn from and build off of that knowledge to mold a unique South Asian fusion sound. Having worked on the album for almost two years now, it’s so surreal to be able to finally share it with people! I am extremely passionate about creating a space for the South Asian community, while also welcoming others to a beautiful culture that they may not be familiar with, so I could not be more excited to finally be releasing it to the world.
Do you have a favorite song on the album?
The reason I think it’s one of my favorites is because it is so tied to my identity. Growing up, I never really saw South Asian women in the Western music world, and being a little brown girl dreaming of being an artist, that meant I didn’t really think that was an option for me. But I think this song serves as a perfect response to that, because not only is it a song meant to empower all women, but specifically highlight the beauty and power of the desi woman. In my process of relearning my roots I am only now starting to realize what an incredible privilege it is to be a desi woman, and I think that it is so important to share that with other desi women and encourage them to feel proud of it!
You are currently attending Berklee College of Music. What’s the biggest thing Berklee has done for your career?
That’s a wild question! Berklee has taught me so many things, but I think one of the most important things it has done for my career is to put me in the same place as so many talented people! This album was made almost entirely with and by Berklee students - from the musicians to the recording and mix engineers, to even the album photographer and my management team! The network of talented people from Berklee is so incredible, and none of it would have been possible without these talented people that I am so grateful for.
Who or what would you consider your biggest musical influences?
As I got older and explored more Western music, I absolutely loved drawing from indie artists like Arlo Parks, and R&B singers like Summer Walker and SZA. When writing my fusion songs, I definitely pull heavy influences from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Anirudh Ravichander. But overall, I’d say those are my biggest influences, both as a songwriter and as a performer.
What would you say is your biggest career challenge?
Definitely figuring out where to go next and how to get there! I don’t think there is really a paved route for South Asian women in the Western music industry, especially for those trying to make fusion music. So while I definitely do see some amazing artists moving upward in this music industry that I really look up to - Shreea Kaul, Priya Ragu, Raveena - I think it can get tough sometimes to figure out how to create a path in this industry that feels truly authentic to me and who I am.
What are your immediate career goals?
Working on more music! Even though I’ve just released this album, I feel like I’m just scratching the surface! As I learn more and more about South Asian culture, and music in general, I feel more and more inspired to express what I’m learning through music. My next goal that I’m working towards is writing in Tamil, which is the language that my family speaks, and I’m having so much fun learning and growing and expanding my music in that way :)
Definitely excited to see the direction her music follows!
As always, I want to thank Varsha for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to accompany the interview.
Thanks again Varsha, and good luck reaching your goals!