by Thomas Bedward June 10, 2022
An eclectic music project that explores the dark heart of modern blues, Sundara began in New York City and has quickly gained a reputation for seamlessly combining elements of the blues, art pop, grunge, and electronic music with sharp, soulful lyricism. Originally called The Meta4 Revue, the project set the stage for a tailored adventure of escapism, nostalgia, and distinguished flair, carving out a path with the unique debut album, ‘Magnum Opera’, which arrived in May of 2020.
Since then, Sundara has continued to impress fans and critics alike, and has recently released his stellar sophomore album, ‘Grand Prix’ a record which perfectly captures the energetic optimism of moving ahead towards a new chapter of life. Arguably one of the most surprising releases of the year so far, we thought it was only right we took the time to get to know the talented artist a little more.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. Your career and music have taken flight ever since the release of ‘Magnum Opera’, but where did it all begin?
“I had a late start with music being a match in my life, but I will say that I always had an acute ear for it very early on. As a child I used to get poor grades in any music class or lessons I had the opportunity to have, but I could pick almost anything up by ear and translate that one way or another.”
“For my musical development, I got my start with hip-hop, which really refined the way I wrote lyrics and told stories. From there I picked up guitar during the twilight of my high-school years, which fast tracked to me becoming proficient, though self-taught, and moving onto piano, drums, and bass. Once I realized I was able to combine my observational storytelling with my musical talent, I was able to really dive into my own sound and songwriting.”
There have been many labels attached to your sound by fans and critics, but how would you describe it?
“I would describe my music as ‘Soundtrack Blues’. The reason being is that I’ve been told that so much of my music has a ‘cinematic’ quality to it, and that it lends itself to being married to visuals - whether that may be independent film, ads, and for cross promotion for brands. I also do compose music for film and visual media, so this has been a natural marriage of the music having this quality.”
It’s a brilliant, multi-faceted style you’ve developed, what influences have inspired you the most over the years?
“At the very core, my music is heavily influenced by the blues, soul, R&B, grunge, soundtrack music, and a lot to music from the 90’s. [Artists like] Ray Charles, Nirvana, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, John Barry, Damon Alburn, Thom Yorke, Nas, Mobb Deep, Biggie, Seal, The White Stripes; just a few that come to mind.”
Your new album is out now, and it’s been warmly received so far. Can you tell us about the record?
“My latest release is an album called ‘Grand Prix’ - which was released in April 2022. It captured the energetic optimism of moving ahead towards a new chapter of life. All of this is thoughtfully woven using the theme of Formula 1, which captured the fast paced and competitive nature of the music industry that I continue to find myself within.”
How does something like that come together? What’s your process there?
“I’m usually writing songs with an overall concept in mind. We’re told always to not think of putting out albums until we’re established as artists - but I do find value both creatively and for listeners when they have a body of work to experience.”
“For each song itself, it’s usually music first, and then lyrics afterwards - and once I have a marriage of the two that works, it’s determining whether the song should be programmed digitally or if I’m going cut it in the studio to have an organic sound to it. I’ll have more content this year on my process, so please tune in via Instagram!”
What’s the most important thing for you when you’re writing a song?
“I enjoy having an observational quality to my music, which shows the listener they’re being heard - while also allowing there to be room for interpretation. Some songs come out of the ether and have a life of their own, but whether or not it’s a part of an album or a standalone song, the song needs to tell a story.”
The big question now, what’s next for you as an artist?
“I’m very excited for rebranding and reintroducing my music and reaching a global audience. I feel that there is more longevity for the relationship between the audience and listeners abroad, I’m looking forward to releasing my previous music under the new artist name so that listeners can become familiar with my overall sound. That way it can set the tone for my upcoming album ‘Death of a Salesman’, which is the most personal piece of work I’ve put out so far. Looking forward to tapping into a more up close and personal angle for the artistry.”
A few final questions before you go, what has been your greatest moment as an artist so far?
“My greatest moment as an artist so far, has probably been taking the step of engaging my identity within my musical brand. Renaming my artist name to my last name and showing my face for the press and promotional aspect has been a big step for me in terms of getting out of my comfort zone.”
Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to our audience?
“If I can connect with you on anything, it is the fact that I truly believe in being intentional in whatever it is we do. Whether that means how we interact with one another, how we apply ourselves to our purpose in life, and making an effort regardless of how often we’re told not to (a’ la don’t try too hard, or ‘be cool’). Enter the Gold, my friends.”
With two more albums set for release throughout 2022, and new roots set in Nashville, there’s never been a better time to get acquainted with Sundara. Stream his new album above and stay tuned for more evocative songwriting that will only have more layers for audiences to connect with on a deeper level.
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