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composer

Anirudh Rajagopalan shared his secrets of success as a genre & culture fusionist composer, director and performer in an expansively exclusive A&R Factory Interview

A&R Factory sat down with the globally renowned fusionist composer, director and performer Anirudh Rajagopalan to get an insight into his multilingual and multisonical talents that have captured audiences across the globe.

Anirudh Rajagopalan, thank you for taking the time to discuss your impressive career as a music composer, director, and performer. We love how intrinsically you blend different sonic cultures from across the world. Have you always had a fusionist style?

I’ve not always had a fusionist style, especially when I was growing up in a household that was and is deeply rooted in Indian music. Indian music ranges from Carnatic Music, film music, Hindustani Music, and more. India’s musical landscape today is very vibrant and that’s where I really started. But as my awareness of diversity increased over the years, eventually so did my thoughts about listening to other kinds of music.

In school, I took Western orchestra, where I played violin in a traditional string orchestra for several years, and I would go home and hear Indian music. Part of me was wondering how I could fuse what I learned from my school orchestra with what I was hearing at home. I thought especially about how such genres can work together.

This idea stayed in my head for several years, until I could finally act on it when I used my first music software which had access to electronic versions of such instruments I was familiar with. So, given a blank canvas, I experimented and found that fusions could work anywhere and anytime as long as you are willing to put in the work and imagination.

What are your favourite genres to work with?

I am rooted in multiple genres of Indian music, but the two I am most rooted in are Carnatic Music and Bollywood.

We’re blown away by your ability to sing in so many languages, English, Tamil, Hindi, Spanish, German, Croatian, Korean, and Japanese, to name a few. Which language do you enjoy singing in the most?

I enjoy singing in Hindi and English. Hindi is the main language of Bollywood movies, which are famous all around the world.

You were born into a very musical family with family members making an ever-lasting mark in the Indian film industry; how has this affected your journey as an artist?

It has definitely affected my journey as an artist, as it defined where I started. My family continues to make strides in the Indian film industry and other places as opportunities arise. I was born into a family that is grounded in Carnatic Music. As I grew up, I watched my mother teach generations of kids the musical genre that she was trained in.

Eventually, I chose to play the mridangam, which is the main percussion instrument of Carnatic Music. Through over a decade of experience, I have begun to think of ways as to how Carnatic Music can find its way into the Indian film industry and other sections of the world. Carnatic Music has made its way into the film industry now, but I think it can have a much greater presence. I do not believe that any single musical genre has to be kept completely separate from the world, and there is room for every genre to expand, grow, and become more popular.

What are your Future Ambitions with Your Music?

I haven’t taken this sound across the country yet. I haven’t done anything like a tour or anything yet, but I look forward to finding such opportunities. As of now, I have taken my culturally fusionist sound through all streaming services. Maintaining these artist pages along with a website is how I have been going to get started. But I have performed Carnatic Music and Bollywood concerts for the past decade and overall, the reception has been positive as long as I performed to my best. I still believe I can eventually take my work to more places.

Given your success which has included receiving many accolades, you have surely got some advice to give to aspiring artists and struggling artists. What would your number one piece of advice be?

I would advise artists to start with a vision. My vision, as an example, is to fuse ideas and instruments from different cultures. I have been rooted in Carnatic Music, but I also have experience in Western Orchestra and am slowly getting into European genres. So, using the resources I currently have, I try to fuse what I have learned from each genre to make such works.

Most of my works have a good portion of a traditional string orchestra, but you will find some unique instruments in them. For example, maybe a glockenspiel, harpsichord, or piccolo has the leading voice. Or an electric bass keeps the bass platform up. I also use principles of Carnatic Music and Western Music Theory to determine beats so I can compose each line of my recordings so they sound pleasing to the ear.

I would advise struggling artists to keep networking and be open to new ideas and try as many as they can. You never know what might end up working.

What projects are currently in the works?

I just finished up a new album and a new single in the past month, where I explored making music that sounded more soulful. It is out on all streaming platforms (Apple Music, Spotify, SoundCloud, etc.), and my artist name is “Anirudh Rajagopalan” (just my name). More information about my works and my life can be found on my website.


Listen to Anirudh Rajagopalan’s fusionist sounds on Spotify.

Follow the artist on Twitter and Instagram.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

Emanuele Tozzi sends us back in time on the joyful Cristina’s world

With silky skills which are rather easy-to-hear, Emanuele Tozzi trains our ears on the real prize that is the quality single to be inspired by called Cristina’s world.

Emanuele Tozzi is an Abruzzo, Italy-born New York-based indie jazz composer who studied at Scuola Civica di Jazz in Milano and is known as one of the underground legends in the local music scene.

In addition to his musical skills, Emanuele holds a Law degree, an LL.M, and a Diploma of Sommelier. He completed two New York marathons and two New York Triathlons.” ~ Emanuele Tozzi

Showcasing his marvellous skills for the world to find true peace inside, Emanuele Tozzi sends a shiver down the spine with a precise performance, which is such a blessing to hear in this inhospitable world.

Cristina’s world from Abruzzo, Italy-born New York-based indie jazz composer Emanuele Tozzi is such a magnificent song which will heal the ears of so many. Smooth in texture and brimming with a harmonious nature, this is exactly the kind of song the world needs more of.

Listen up on Spotify and see more info on his website here.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

We Need Hope: Peter Xifaras shows us deep inside the Lost Innocence of this harsh world

Performed by the exquisite Czech National Symphony, Peter Xifaras shows us deep inside a tragic moment for humankind as the tears flow, bloodshed reigns, and bullets fly everyday on Lost Innocence.

Peter Xifaras is a USA-based world renowned classical musician, composer, guitarist, orchestrator, and producer who is the mastermind of this deep experience.

Peter Xifaras, the creative force behind the symphoneX Orchestra, is an award-winning artist whose music has topped Billboard’s Classical & Crossover charts. Whether it’s Cinematic, Classical, Jazz-Fusion, or Spoken-Word, Peter’s body of work has garnered praise for successfully crossing over musical boundaries.” ~ Peter Xifaras

Taking us into the destroyed woods where the fire burns deep and the haunting mourning only increases, Peter Xifaras is absolutely excellent on this track that features the outstanding Czech National Symphony.

Lost Innocence from the USA-based multi-talented classical creative Peter Xifaras is a really stunning song that needs to be played loud all over the world. Its texture is packed with true love to the world, as this is a real message that should strike hot to so many who have felt the pain.

Performed to perfection, this is a statement song.

Listen up on YouTube and see more on Facebook.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Ivar Kangur – Crossing Oceans: an 80s soundtrack to synaesthesia

In one of the most cinematic synthpop scores you could ever hope to immerse yourself within, Crossing Oceans, taken from Ivan Kangur’s 2022 album, Anno Domini, is an 80s soundtrack to synaesthesia.

After taking up classical piano at the age of 14 at the Royal Conservatory of music and working his way through his grades, he discovered his passion for composition, which ultimately saw him joining a new wave band in the 80s and film scoring. His third album, Anno Domini, is a continuation of his love of pop and sonic cinematics; from the first hammer of the analog synth, Crossing Oceans, keeps true to its titular nomination; the strident progressions break borders in the universality of their appeal. Delve right in; the water is lovely.

Crossing Oceans is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Count To Infinity: Duotrio wants that stay to last forever on Light of My Life

Urging for that spark to precipitate so joyously, like a hot summer’s day at the pool, Duotrio rises through the clouds and wants that romance to be something special and different from the rest on Light of My Life.

Duotrio aka Daniel Nissenbaum is a renowned hip-hop fused Brooklyn, New York-based trumpet player, composer and film scorer who graduated from Berklee College of Music.

As a trumpet player and recording artist, Daniel has recorded with and/or performed with Donald Byrd, Marcus Miller, Bobby Rydell, Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, MISIA, Darlene Love, The Drifters, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Mary Wilson (The Supremes), The Marvellettes, The Toys, and The Disco Biscuits.” ~ Daniel Nissenbaum giving us further insight into his impressive career so far (taken from nuttreemusic.com)

Showing us where the love is after so much darkness and rain, Duotrio has presented us with that thrilling amorous adventure that should get you smiling again. Dripping in luscious vocals and loaded with a kiss-filled vibe that shall make any day better, this is a sizzling single for when you just want to let your hair down and have fun.

Light of My Life from Brooklyn, New York-based trumpet player/composer Duotrio is a quick-fire track with a groovy beat, rapid raps and soothing vocals, that shall illuminate your day. This is as romantic as it comes, as those heart-healing words move closer like that first kiss, with that huge beam of hope to set two hearts free.

When you know who you want to be with, you only hope that they feel the same and express their feelings.

Listen up to this new single on Spotify and see more news on Facebook.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Al STRONG is quite superb on the jazz delight Old Town Diera (feat. Braxton Cook)

On a remarkably wonderful foot-tapping song that will put you in the best of moods, Al STRONG shows us deep inside a timeless place which will cause shivers of joy to form naturally all over your body with Old Town Diera (feat. Braxton Cook).

Al STRONG is a Washington, DC-native and 2x Grammy-nominated trumpet player, composer, recording artist, and educator, who is revered globally as one of the best in the game.

Known for his creative ability to seamlessly re-imagine existing works like Thelonious Monk’s “Blue Monk” and the classic “My Favorite Things,” Strong aims to challenge the boundaries of music while connecting with his audiences.” ~ Al STRONG giving us deeper insight into his vision and incredible creativity

Simply exquisite at each turn, Al STRONG and Braxton Cook join forces rather sweetly on this heart-healing song that feels like it has been sent from another time altogether. Rich in layers of goodness to hold on securely with, as our fragile souls warm and our smiles widen after so much frown-inducing suffocating pain from the preceding two years on earth.

Old Town Diera from the multi-talented Washington, DC-native Al STRONG is a jazz anthem that has everything you could want in an instrumental soundtrack for modern times. Reminding us what quality music sounds like, as he drenches our thirsty speakers, to soothe all worries away.

Packed with quality throughout and showing the youth what classic music sounds like, this is something so calming your pulse will give you a huge embrace.

Turn up the volume on Spotify and delve deeper inside on the IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Done Paying For The Sins: Scott Cruz urges us to burn this ship and start again on Culture

Following on from his dynamic 2021 release called The Reason, Scott Cruz shows us we can indeed power up brightly and rise again with a better world to save the Culture for the youth of tomorrow.

Scott Cruz is a Palm Springs, California-based multi-talented indie alt-pop solo singer-songwriter, composer, music producer, and metaphysics & psychotherapy expert.

Showing us that a mystical adventure is ready for us if we all want it enough, Scott Cruz leads us into a whole new galaxy that is filled with so much promise and away from current evil. Sung with a sensational edge that might get your heart beating with a more forceful velocity than before, this is an energetic single made with real purpose and heartfelt desire.

Culture from Palm Springs, California-based indie pop solo singer-songwriter/music producer Scott Cruz is a beast-machine-destroying song that will illuminate the skies and get us all thinking about what is really up on another planet. Vocally breathtaking and saturated with inspired lyrics, this experience might get you looking closer at the sky tonight.

Changing the current culture is key to humankind’s survival.

Hear this new single on Spotify and see more via the IG music page.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Michael Kanyongolo – Dreams: Meet Your New Sonic Sandman

With an ethereally dystopic chill that creeps in straight from the intro, the Brooklyn, NY-residing electronic music producer, Michael Kanyongolo’s latest score, Dreams, constructs a biometrically ambient world you can drift into for a multifaceted sensory experience.

By building his tracks from samples, midi instruments and live playing, his sonic signature became one marked in stylistic fluidity, textural juxtapositions, and otherworldly atmosphere.

The fact that he’s still in college should be enough to make Hans Zimmer shiver with competitive fear. Kanyongolo is so much more than your average ambience peddler; he’s got the tenacity of an acclaimed composer in the making.

Dreams is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

LA Jazz Scene Icon Sam Hirsh Created Melodic Chemistry with Amber Navran in His Seminal Single, Hot Slow

Taken from his LP, Quarantine Dreams, Sam Hirsh’s standout single, Hot Slow, featuring Amber Navran, is everything it says on the tin. Rather than cooking up a tried, tested, and uninspired blend of soul, Hirsh delivered jazzy melodies which artfully blossom around the smoky – almost trip-hoppy – whispered vocals.

In the LA jazz scene, the pianist, composer and educator is renowned for the soulful energy in his compositions; they are everything people who bemoan ‘they don’t make them like they used to’ could ask for. Better yet, right from the first hit, Hot Slow is smooth enough to melt into. For the same reasons I fell in love with California by Mr Bungle, I will be giving Hot Slow plenty of repeat attention.

Hot Slow is now available to stream on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Lydia Li set an otherworldly score in her orchestral composition, Enchanted Forest

From the first note, you’re down the fantastical rabbit hole in Lydia Li’s composition, Enchanted Forest. The LA-based Chinese composer and orchestrator has crafted scores for just about every form of media. But standing alone, the sense of wonder and emotional celebration of imagined celestial ephemera contained in Enchanted Forest is enough to capture your imagination and aid escapism.

Before composing her instrumental orchestral piece, Enchanted Forest, Lydia Li performed and recorded music across the globe. She provided the soundtrack to the Chinese show Bafan Shenyu, which has garnered over 40 million views. Appropriately matched levels of success and talent are rare to find, but notably, Lydia Li’s heartbreakingly astute melodies could never be over-revered. She’s raised the bar right off this stratosphere.

Visit the Enchanted Forest by heading over to Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast