Singers Suvi, Shakthisree and Maalavika tell Sudhish Kamath about the joy of doing original music and the thrill of being in a band
Three girls. Three different voices. Three distinctive styles. Suvi, Shaktisree Gopalan and Maalavika Manoj are the new faces of pop music in Chennai. Not only can they sing, they also write their own songs and juggle music with studies. Young, confident, talented and spirited, we got these girls together for a photo-shoot and also to talk about things that inspire their music.
Maalavika Manoj, Singer/Songwriter
Band: Bass-in-bridge with Sajith (bass), Leon (keyboard), Arjun (guitar)
School: Sacred Heart, Church Park
Claim to fame: Chennai Live band hunt — finalist
Live gigs: Played at Pasta Bar Veneto, Sec Saturday concert (Pondicherry), Yamaha Music Square's Up On The Roof.
Background: Ever since I was a kid, I knew I could sing. I started learning piano at a young age, picked up the guitar and learnt a little on my own. I used to sing a lot of Karaoke, and won many competitions. I participated in Maithri, the school culturals at Chettinad Vidyashram and was named Best Vocalist. RJs Arjun Thomas and his brother Ameeth heard me there and suggested I form a band to join the band hunt. The hunt was really the first time I got to sing with a band.
Journey: We have performed six original songs. I wrote ‘Inspiration' and ‘Deceptive' before the band hunt and the other four, we wrote together as a band. Our songs are about life and everything seen from a teen perspective.
Current plans: I have my board exams in two months. This summer, I am going to work on music and get some of our songs recorded.
Band: Soulsonic with Carl Fernandez (bass), Jerry John (drums), Joshua Satya (guitar) and Alok Mervin (keyboard)
College: Graduated from Ethiraj College
Live gigs: Michael Jackson Heal The World tribute concert, Christmas Concert with Unwind Centre, Asianet awards, and this week, Yuvan Live concert.
Claim to fame: Winner of SS Music's Voice Hunt that led to Chennai's answer to Viva — S5. Also does playback singing.
Background: I discovered singing thanks to Praveen Mani sir. I used to sing for school and college bands. I have always been into pop and funk more than film but I do film because that's the only thing that gives you credit. But this is the kind of music that I love doing the most. My first idol was Michael Jackson. As I grew up, it was Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Toni Braxton, and then Stevie Wonder, Jamiroquai and Earth Wind & Fire. When I was studying in Ethiraj, SS Music came to our college and gave us a Jump the Queue pass. Since my family was quite keen I focus on my studies, I had to sneak out without their knowledge. Ten of us went to audition. I got into the band. S5 was a one-year contract and we released an album with Sony. When the contract came to an end, so did the band. So I started singing for films with Kodana Kodi (“Saroja”).
Journey: My real name is Swetha. I wanted to call myself Swe... I don't know how they interpreted it or pronounced it as Suvi. But then, someone told me that Suvi meant ‘sunrise' in Finnish. I love the sunrise, so it stuck. Soulsonic's album is still untitled and I have written six songs for the band and we are hoping to get somebody to produce it. The songs (‘I'm runnin around', ‘This could be love', ‘Soul satisfaction' to name a few) are about the happy things in life. I also have a solo album called Suvi Delirious produced by Praveen. That's all about the rebel in me. I co-wrote the songs for that album with Praveen.
Current plans: Till the album is released it's just going to be films.
Shakthisree Gopalan, Singer/Songwriter
Band: Off The Record with Vikram Vivekanand (Guitar), Satish Narayanan (Bass), Tapas Naresh/Vinay Ramakrishnan (Drums)
College: Anna University, School of Architecture and Planning
Genre: Slow Rock/ Pop
Live gigs: 10 Downing, Blend, Gatsby Village, No Sky Above, Star Rock, Russian Cultural Centre.
Claim to fame: Winner of SS Music Voice Hunt 2008 and was placed third in Chennai Live's Band Hunt
Background: I trained in Carnatic music for 13 years. When I was in my 11th grade, SS Music conducted Voice Hunt 1. Since I was not 18, it ended with the auditions. But it got me thinking that I should do music seriously. In 2008, I won SS Music's Voice Hunt 2. That was a good experience. I auditioned in November 2008 and got the opportunity to sing in films (“Taxi 4777”, “Irumbukottai Murattu Singham”, “Kattradhu Kalavu” and “Rajathi Raja”) but as a band we got started only last year.
Journey: We formed Off The Record in 2009 and have come up with about seven to eight songs. College still happens. That's a crazy schedule because it is a heavy course. Sometimes I go three to four days with only a couple of hours of sleep juggling music and college. I have written about seven to eight songs. My songs are surrealist, about people, situations and living for now. Our music is available on reverbnation.com.
Current plans: We will start recording soon. I also have other songs done in collaboration with friends. I am more passionate about making original music.