Lilting compositions, catchy peppy bhajans incorporating Indian classical music genre, was the treat meted out to the Singapore audience, when Aks released his devotional album on ‘Shiva Stotras’.
“The idea whenever doing any type of music is to maintain those elements which make our music so characteristically Indian. This may mean taking influences of Ragas or going to our folk music roots and exploring those avenues. I then try to fuse that with more contemporary electronic elements to create a mixture that would appeal to the younger generation. In this way, the music still remains rooted and maintains its essence, albeit in a slightly different format”.
Ashwin Krishnan Subramanian, 28 years, Aks, is an Indian-American composer, singer, and songwriter for Bollywood films, Pop scene, and Hip-Hop productions. Best known for his unique style of presenting global bass with a strong South Asian music influence.
A student of Oscar-winner AR Rahman, Aks has scored music for a number of independent films in India and the US and has also performed 20 -25 live shows of his original works in US.
His music and video production company, Eclipse Nirvana, specialises in producing and promoting world music with strong South Asian roots.
In addition to being a trained carnatic vocalist he is also a Bharathanatyam dancer. His mother a Bharathanatyam dancer runs a dance school in US, ‘Jayamangala’.
With a degree in Computer Engineering from Virginia Tech and a diploma from KM Music Conservatory under AR Rahman, Aks has turned his passion, to a full time profession.
He started composing instrumental tracks in high school. At 18, he came up with his own song. He has done over 65 songs.
Aks and his musical journey……
How has the association with AR Rahman helped you?
It helped quite a bit musically but even more spiritually. Rahman sir's take on music is that it comes from a higher source, and his process reflects that quite well. Over the course of studying and working under him, I was able to imbibe a similar process of bringing together spirituality and music.
What got you into devotional compositions?
I think my interactions with Rahman sir cemented this path, but in general I've been raised with a very spiritual outlook. At home, everyone discusses Vedanta as they would any other subject. These influences naturally found their way into my projects.
Which of your songs is most popular?
My devotional numbers have been gaining popularity, perhaps due the lyrical content as to the music. The first devotional album, ‘Arghya’, is still selling well also ‘Yuva Rhythms’.
With which groups have you done music with?
Chinmaya Mission, various production companies and record labels on film, animation, and corporate projects.
How was your experience doing popular movies like Raavan, Delhi 6, Adaa?
It was a fantastic experience as it taught me to think outside conventional boundaries. The studio sessions were all highly experimental with us doing seemingly far-fetched exercises. It always resulted in something very new and fresh and therefore inculcated in me the penchant for exploring new things.
You lost equipment and personal belongings to Hurricane Sandy. How did u rebuild?
My studio got flooded with about 7 ft. of water during Hurricane Sandy, damaging all equipment in the process as well as much of my personal belongings. The rebuilding process was a truly inspiring one and really showed me the support of the entire community during that time. We did a few benefit concerts in addition to launching an online campaign to raise funds. Both were hugely successful and I was able to recover everything that was lost with immense support of many friends.
What is the latest composition?
‘The Bhakti Movement’. This project takes poems and compositions of saints such as Kabir, Surdas, Meerabai, and Raidas and modernises it in a way to make it appealing and relevant to the younger generation. The album features a number of well-known Bollywood singers and will be released later this summer through my label Eclipse Nirvana.
Aks released his album ‘Echoes of Kailash’ at a concert with mellifluous vocal support from a mother daughter duo Padmini and Lakshmi Chandrashekar accompanied by Sarfraz Ahmed on the tabla and Shibi Krishnan on the harmonium on 27th April at Sri Sivan Temple Hall , Geylang East.