'Music has always been very gratifying'

Blues singer

'Music has always been very gratifying'

Rajni Shivaram’s odyssey into the world of music began when she had to decide between pursuing a PhD or delving into music full-time. She stuck to the world of musical notes which excited her like none other. The young blues and jazz singer has an appreciable presence online and performs with the band ‘Chronic Blues Circus’. In a chat with Tini Sara Anien, she sheds light on the world of blues and jazz tunes.

How did music happen to you?
As a youngster, I used to go to a Carnatic music teacher who taught me some devotional and other songs. I wouldn’t call myself a trained musician though, as I wouldn’t be able to identify the different ‘raagas’. I went to the Nathaniel School of Music for a three-month course, where I met a lot of people whom I connected to. I began to understand how I could use my voice and where it fit in. Blues and jazz music was an accident, a rather fortunate one, waiting to happen. I played a few blues and jazz numbers and that’s when I realised this is what I should be doing.

Why blues and jazz music?
Singing the blues made me very happy. As soon as I got done with the music course, I started looking out for bands and other musicians who played that kind of music. This is when the ‘Chronic Blues Circus’ happened. They took me in and my one-year journey with them has been really exciting.
What inspires you to perform blues?
The fact that I could connect to blues is what inspires me. Jazz is an offshoot of blues and it happened to me because of the blues. I could relate to blues’ singers. The genre is all about the soul and there is a bit of melancholy there. All the struggles these singers have gone through can be seen through their music. I am deeply inspired by how they were able to carve their niche and overcome these struggles.

Your favourite musicians...
I love the music of artistes like Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, B B King and Buddy Guy.

Other artistes you’ve collaborated with...
I have worked with Mistan to create unique tracks. I’ve also collaborated with violinist Aneesh Vidyashankar. These were all tracks that were recorded in the studio and are available online.

How important is an online presence for today’s artistes?
I’ve been appreciated more online than at shows. I strongly believe that an online presence is much needed. One is catering to a much larger audience online. Having an online channel or platform also helps to explore more stuff. I don’t only experiment with blues and jazz then.

Some of the songs you’ve posted online...
A few of the tracks which garnered attention online was a Tamil song ‘Thalli Pogathe’, ‘Still Got The Blues’ by Gary Moore and ‘Fly Me To The Moon’.

What is music to you?
Music has always been very gratifying. Be it pop or blues or anything else, I don’t like how music is differentiated by genres. Every genre has its own importance.

How is blues and jazz music perceived in Bengaluru?
It is a very niche domain. In the city, I’ve seen many appreciating and understanding blues and jazz music the way I’ve been trying to communicate.
It might not be the music everyone listens to, but it has its own share of audience. Bengaluru has always been open to all kinds of music. In India, however, blues and jazz music has a long way to go.

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