A girl born and brought up in Kerala, Shakthisree Gopalan came to Chennai to study architecture. During her schooling years, she was trained in Carnatic music, hence, her inclination towards the musical arts. “During my years in college here, I was very eager to check out the independent music scene in Madras. When in Kerala, I used to also write poetry. So slowly that transpired into writing songs and eventually I started making my own music. By 3rd year of college, I was collaborating with friends, started playing with bands, and even released more of my music online. When I was posting my independent music online, I started to get offers and opportunities to do playback singing from composers.”
“My first recording, an offer I got for playback singing was for a Kannada song by composer Guruprasad Subramanian. But the song never came out. My second recording was for AR Rahman sir singing backup vocals for the Hindi movie, Ghajini. Then I went on to sing the song, Sorgam Madhuvilae for Vijay Antony’s TN 07 AL 4777. Every recording, I would learn a bit more.”
Her latest hit from the blockbuster movie, Ponniyin Selvan is Aga Naga. When we asked her about the story behind the melodious track, she said, “ I am immensely grateful for this gorgeous song. I’m a massive fan of his music, every opportunity I’ve had to work with Rahman sir has been brilliant, and magical, I have no words to describe it honestly. It’s beyond a dream come true. It was 2020 and we were all in lockdown. We didn’t know when the studios would open again, there was so much uncertainty. I was at a place where I was missing the stage and studio. Recording started happening but remotely. After months, things slowly started to open up. That’s when I got a call from Rahman sir. I jumped in and said yes, not knowing what the song was also. It was the first song I recorded after lockdown, it was an emotional experience.”
She feels supremely grateful for the love, the support and the good vibes. “ So many people reached out directly or through social media. I can never thank Rahman Sir enough for making me a part of his music. And for giving me an opportunity to be a part of a masterpiece like this song and to connect with so many people through music.
Shakthisree has turned music director for the movie TEST, starring Madhavan, Nayanthara and Siddharth produced by YNOT Studios and directed by S Sashikanth. “ I’ve been working on the music for some time now. The thing is, I have made my own music, and produced my own tracks. Songs have different journeys. Some songs are more collaborative, some are a solo process. When I make my independent music, I have a visual in my head. I call it the visual dimension of music, and that’s very important to me. When it came to the movie, the experience has been very interesting because it’s part of a much larger universe. It’s the storytelling that I thoroughly enjoy. You have to tap into the story, the pace, the vibe, the entire experience is exhilarating.”
AR Rahman ranks first in her list of favourite artists. Any mood, any season, anytime, his songs are evergreen. “ Rahman sir’s music is a staple in my list. Other than that, I love Norah Jones and off late, I’m enjoying the music by Lizzy McAlpine. I love her writing.”
When asked what the most difficult part of making music is for her, she responded “ A lot of time it’s knowing what you want to talk about and how you’re going to talk about it. Sometimes, you are sure what you want to talk about, but potentially get stuck with how. Especially with independent music, there are no parameters. Figuring out what message you want to put across and how you’re going to treat it and put it out is the struggle. Sometimes, it’s about sounds that you found compelling and inspire you. Mostly it’s the story that takes the lead, and the other aspects draw energy from that.”