Isolashun: Aditya Prakash’s Celebration of Musical Multiplicity

Vocalist Aditya Prakash has recently released his latest album titled ‘Isolashun’, which is a reflection of his musical influences and introspection. Throughout his musical journey, Aditya has been inspired by two renowned artists, sitar maestro Pt. Ravi Shankar and Carnatic singer T.M. Krishna. These two influential figures have played a significant role in shaping Aditya’s thinking and creative expression.

‘Isolashun’ is a seven-track album that pushes the boundaries of traditional music. Aditya, based in Los Angeles, has previously gained recognition through his work with The Aditya Prakash Ensemble, which blended the realms of Carnatic music and jazz. With his debut solo recording, he continues to challenge the norms of the classical aesthetic while exploring the tension in dual identities and questioning prevailing notions of beauty.

The album’s inception can be traced back to the pandemic, which brought solitude and introspection to Aditya’s life as an artist. With his engagements cancelled and forced to stay in one place, Aditya found himself unmotivated and uninspired. The political events in both his home countries, India and the U.S., made him aware of the one-sidedness of historical narratives embedded in the classical art forms taught since childhood.

Drawing from this backdrop, ‘Isolashun’ took shape in Aditya’s garage studio. He composed and arranged all the tracks himself, with a contribution from Singapore-based singer Sushma Soma on one song. Two tunes from the album have already been released, providing a glimpse into the diverse sonic experiences it offers. The title track features veena player Guhan Venkataraman and violinist Arun Ramamurthi, incorporating Aditya’s vocals to explore the delicate balance between music and noise. The second song, ‘3 AM’, delves into emotional turmoil, showcasing the versatility of Aditya’s artistry.

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However, ‘Isolashun’ is not just a music album. It forms part of a larger project that includes a podcast series, a short film for the track ‘Insirgents’ directed by Akram Khan, and a live one-person performance set to premiere at the UCLA Center for Art Of Performance next year. This multi-dimensional approach highlights Aditya’s commitment to pushing boundaries and creating immersive experiences for his audience.

Aditya’s journey as a musician began in Los Angeles, where he grew up in an artistic family. His mother ran a Bharatnatyam school, exposing him to Carnatic music from an early age. However, in his desire to feel included, Aditya initially kept his music and Indian cultural identity separate from his American persona. Nonetheless, his passion for Carnatic music led him to spend his vacations in Chennai, immersing himself in the intricacies of the art form.

A significant turning point came when Pt. Ravi Shankar noticed Aditya’s talent and invited him to perform a 30-minute set at his home. This opportunity opened doors for Aditya, and he ended up accompanying the maestro on a tour of the U.S. and Canada from 2005 to 2006. Performing at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Hollywood Bowl, and Disney Concert Hall, Aditya’s musical language expanded under Pt. Ravi Shankar’s mentorship. The maestro encouraged him to be curious, experiment, and explore different musical genres, expanding his horizons.

Another influential figure in Aditya’s journey is T.M. Krishna, who taught him the importance of deliberate practice. Krishna advised him not to approach practice as mere preparation for a concert but to dedicate time to explore and experiment. Through his book, ‘A Southern Music,’ Krishna elucidated the socio-political history of Carnatic music, deepening Aditya’s personal connection with the art form.

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Apart from Pt. Ravi Shankar and T.M. Krishna, violinist R.K. Shriramkumar and contemporary dancer-choreographer Akram Khan have had a profound impact on Aditya’s artistic development. They helped him rediscover his passion for Carnatic music and find an authentic voice, free from colonial influences. Aditya collaborated with Akram Khan for his solo project ‘Xenos,’ which sparked a transformative search for his musical identity.

Two projects that hold particular significance for Aditya are his work with The Aditya Prakash Ensemble and his role as a producer for Sushma Soma’s album ‘Home.’ The ensemble, formed in 2010, seamlessly melded jazz and Carnatic music, resulting in three albums and multiple tours across India, the U.S., and Southeast Asia. Aditya’s collaboration with Sushma Soma allowed him to broaden his musical horizons, a testament to his commitment to exploring new sounds within the Carnatic music tradition.

Aditya believes that his generation of musicians is more accepting of new sounds and ideas, expanding the definition of what Carnatic music can be. For him, the essence of music lies in its ability to evoke deep and visceral emotions, transcending boundaries and classifications.

‘Isolashun’ marks a significant milestone in Aditya’s artistic journey, reflecting his continuous growth and exploration as a musician. With its unique blend of influences and introspection, the album promises to captivate audiences and challenge conventional notions of music and identity.

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