A Q&A with Award-Winning Indian Composer, Singer and Independent Artist S. J. Jananiy

  1. Your new song “Aao You Divas Manaye – Yog Anthem” is under consideration for the Grammy Awards this year. Would you please tell us more about the production process of the song?

    Aao Yog Divas Manayae Yog Anthem was released on the eve of International Day of Yoga and World Music Day – 21 June 2022. This song was composed/ written, music produced, arranged and record produced by myself. I’ve sung and recorded this song with Bollywood singer Ravindra Upadhyay. Meaningful lyrics were written by BK Sapna.

    This song was submitted to both Global Performance and the Composing/Arranging Category for vocals/instrumentals.

    This track is meant to inspire listeners worldwide to understand the in-depth knowledge of different forms of yoga practices and disciplines that originated from ancient India and to enlighten them about the significance of regular practice to ensure one’s well-being, mindfulness, power and strength. I’ve composed this melody based on the Indian Classical Raga Yaman; based on the notes of the Lydian Mode in Western Classical Music and Raga Kalyani in Carnatic Classical Music. Though this song is composed in a raga, I’ve arranged and produced music to this song in such a way to transform you into an elated state that will open your heart! I had to draw the parallels with styles of Ghazal and Sufi Music that are allied to Hindustani Classical Music, merging and blending the arrangements, taking the Hindi language to listeners across the globe. With various aspects such as the Indian Rhythm, the Pop elements, shades of Jazz and the Indian Swaras, all put together, this song stands proof to the execution, the innovation, and the exposition of blending of the Indian Classical Music coupled with elements of Pop and Jazz which is in coherence with Kathak, an Indian Dance form.

  2. During the pandemic in 2020, you had the opportunity to work with the world class Sofia Session Orchestra, GVA Records, Bulgaria for your single Aigiri Nandini (Mahishasura Mardini Stotra). Would you tell us more about your experience working with an orchestra?

    I conceptualized the project, wrote the score, music produced, arranged, sung and record produced this track. Once I finalized my scores/notations and almost every pre-production work was set right prior to the recording of the Live session with the Sofia Session Orchestra, Four For Music, GVA records, Bulgaria, comprising a 22-piece orchestra.

    I composed and wrote the scores combining the Indian-based Raga Pantuvarali, an unusual mode/scale in Western Classical Music (51st Melakarta Raga of Carnatic Music), and when I listened to the orchestra playing the scores, it was really an overwhelming experience.

    A few days ahead of recording the session, I sent my scores for the orchestra to prepare for my recording. After a few rounds of rehearsal, we recorded the session virtually. I chose between 500 tracks and got my mix ready myself and sent it for mastering to London. With the pre-release date finalized, this huge project happened in just two weeks.

    Youtube Link: https://youtu.be/SYt9KxQntpA

  3. You scored and wrote the soundtrack for the film “Prabha” directed by Nandhan, would you tell us more about your process behind writing the score and working with the director?

    After listening to my album Mahakavi Bharathiyarʼs Vande Mataram, for which I collaborated with Legends DR. SPB, Hariharan and Unnikrishnan, the director approached me with a story that was a women-centric feature. The story really inspired me a lot and I accepted to score music. Original soundtrack, score composed, music produced and arranged by myself. The shooting of the film started and the director approached me for scoring music a little while later. And I was able to work so swiftly in just one week. It was released in December 2018. An unforgettable memory in my musical career.

    Music Direction domain largely revolving with a male bastion, I, being a woman, not only a music composer, but a woman music producer, arranger, record producer and singer for especially a women-centric movie highlights how a woman could stand up for herself during her toughest times and successfully overcome the hurdles herself. I received warm recognition from the audience, winning peopleʼs heart and encouragement from people who watched the movie. I had the privilege to record my Guru Chevalier Dr. M.Balamuralikrishna Sirʼs vocals for the song “Poove Pesum Poove”.I was blessed to sing along with his vocals for this track and that was also his final playback song for my debut movie “Prabha” (2018); I had several moments of musical learnings and the approach that he chose to work on with my composing really inspires me even now! Apart from this, I sang along with legendary musician Hariharan, Mr. Vijay Prakash, Palakkad Sreeram and Shwetha Mohan for this movie.

  4. You recently wrote the song Kelunga Kelunga which is an anti-tobacco awareness song and collaborated with the late legendary singer Dr. S. P. Balasubrahmanyam on this particular piece of music. Talk to us about your collaboration with Dr. S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and what was the one thing that you learnt while working with him.

    Having worked with legendary musician, composer, actor and voiceover artist Padmavibhushan late Dr. S. P. Balasubrahmanyam Sir at several occasions since my childhood, I really feel very blessed.

    When I was just 9, I worked with the legend for my pop album “Poongatru” under the music of doyen L. Vaidyanathan. This unforgettable recording session was full of learning experiences. I can still remember myself performing a Telugu composition by St. Tyagaraja “Swara Raga Sudha..” and he taught me the nuances in pronunciations of the language.

    During the recording of my album for “EMI Virgin Records – Kandar Sashti Kavacham and Subramanya Bhujangam”, after recording every single line/melody, he checked with me whether the melody was sounding great! Indeed a dream come true moment for me.

    Another occasion during a recording session of my song for my album “Mahakavi Bharathiyarʼs Vande Mataram”, wherein the poemʼs lyrics consisting the ancient linguistics, I was stunned with the prominence that he gave towards understanding and delivering each and every lyrics which actually contributed towards the emotions and dynamics; also during that recording, he contacted another lyricist to clarify the meaning of the words accurately. Wherein, he was a composer himself, his down-to-earth personification still inspires me a lot.

    A few months before his passing away due to Covid, I was fortunate to record my song Kelunga Kelunga (Anti-Tobacco Awareness Song), one of the few songs that he recorded during the pandemic, towards the social cause to consciously recovering from the addiction to tobacco, drug and liquor, signifying the fact tobacco is killing our planet

    This awareness song portrays the importance of health and the ill effects on health caused by the consumption of tobacco, drugs and liquor. This song highlights the easy ways to recover from this addiction through the Rajyoga Meditation of Brahma Kumaris, World Spiritual University. Song release was during World No-Tobacco Day, May 29, 2022.

    This song was composed, music Produced, arranged and record produced by myself. Comprising the blend of Pop elements and Indian Folk Instruments such as the Tapes/Duffs, Parai, Tavil, Nadaswaram along with Instruments flute, acoustic guitar and the bass guitar.

    YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/OsrT21bHda4

  5. You wrote the Theme Song for Tamizhan Awards by Pudhiya Thalaimurai Television (New Generation) and Media which you performed live at the award ceremony. Tell us more about the meaning of the lyrics and how did you draw inspiration to write them?

    This welcome theme song is a dance drama production for NewGen Media – Pudhiya Thalaimurai Television, held on September 15, 2022. I composed and wrote the melody for the given lyrics, music produced, arranged, and recorded the song. Sung by myself along with Eminent Singer Velmurugan. I conducted and recorded the entire session, highlighting the “Beats of Tamilnadu” and “Rhythm of India ” including an ancient traditional percussion of Tamilnadu. Commencing with the beats of the Tamilnadu folk tradition in the 6/8 rhythm right after the intro adlib, this song introduces the land of Tamilnadu and shifts with dramatic moves striking towards the action/thriller styles in 4/4 rhythm and delving to deliver a promising attitude to create a new world. The mid passages convey the theatrical aspects starting right from the ancient times to present day scenario and hence the music is a blend of contemporary style merging with genres such as World, Indian Pop, Indian Folk and the Ragas of Hindustani Classical Music and Carnatic Classical Music (Indian Classical Art Forms). This segment quickly introduces a Hindustani Classical Music Swara section concluding with a “thihaayee” (a technical term to sign the end of the swaras). The finale of this song portrays the cultural values and disciplines of Tamilnadu state throughout generations. The music for the finale has been written in a grand manner, comprising heavy orchestra arrangements, matching the dance styles that focus on the theme “Idhu Namma Tamilnadu” (Itʼs our Tamilnadu).

    Check out our directory for more info on S. J. Jananiy

    Interview by Rivita

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