I Started by Playing Guitar for Local Indian Music Groups in New Jersey USA - Devan Ekambaram

I've been a self trained musician and I've just been around music and musicians for 3 decades. But one must consistently practice and improve their skills.

1. Tell us more about your background and journey.

I've been into music since age 14. I started by playing guitar for local Indian music groups in New Jersey USA from 1990-1993. It was during this time I got to meet legendary singers Yesudas & SP Balasubramanyam when they were touring the US.

2. When did you first decide you wanted to pursue music and how did you start?

By 1995 during my college summer break I made a trip to India to explore opportunities in music and met Mr Madhav Das who was the director of Magnasound, a very popular record label in the 90s that promoted IndiPop. He like the demos I'd shown him and agreed to sign me onto the label and produce my 1st album, KAMBAN ORU KANNILE. 

I took a year to finish the album and it got released Feb 1998. During that time I had received a call from AR Rahmans office to come for a recording since he listened to my album. And that's how my playback singing career started with the song OH MARIA

3. Who is your favorite artist and why?

My all time favorite artists are George Michael & SP Balasubramanyam for their amazing voices

4. Can you throw some light on opportunities one gets as a singer?

Today the music scenario has totally changed with the physical CD cassettes all abolished and everything has shifted entirely to streaming platforms like YouTube Spotify, Apple music etc. So independent artists no longer need to depend on record labels to release their music. 

But now the artist must invest money into his art and take care of recording costs and marketing it online. With regard to film singing...its a very overcrowded market today with multiple music directors and even more singers to choose from. Getting an opportunity isn't very difficult but being sought after is the big challenge and sustaining.

5. Is format training required or can one train themselves purely on the basis of talent?

Formal training is good to but I definitely wouldn't say its mandatory. I've been a self trained musician and I've just been around music and musicians for 3 decades. But one must consistently practice and improve their skills.

6. What piece of advice would you like to give to future and aspiring artists?

The advice I have for the next lot of aspiring musicians and singers are to keep a parallel source of income since getting long term success in music isn't always guaranteed and the biggest advice is to keep practicing and learning. 

Don't worry about getting likes and followers so early. When your talent is firmly toned up and people see your skills automatically you will get a following so keep learning music as a priority and the fame and success will eventually follow suit.

7. What made you compose a song to advise people not to use plastic? 

NO PLASTIC SWEAR NOW, My latest single to release happened during lock-down when a composer from Belgium named Isai Vannan contacted me to arrange an A Cappella to a song he had made on Anti plastic and was sung by a European singer, Leila Kaiyr. 

It was an absolute delight to work on this song to spread awareness of the negative effects plastic has on the planet. The song is available on all streaming platforms





8. Which is your favorite book and why?

One of my favorite books is George Orwell's 1984. It gave a huge insight of how a futuristic society could be decades before the actually year in the title.

- Interview by - Suhitha Mahendran

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