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Priya Ragu Opens up About her Music and Identity

Priya Ragu
4 min read

From performing local events to signing a deal with Warner Records, Priya Ragu pushes her career forward while maintaining her roots. She got her start in music by performing in her father’s band as a singer. Ragu was inspired by the likes of Lauryn Hill as the music spoke to her soul. She has garnered quite a reputation being in British Vogue, a part of the FIFA soundtrack, BBC Radio 1, Vogue India and NPR just to name a few. Continue reading to learn about the meaning behind Priya Ragu‘s work.

In Ragu’s track “Good Love 2.0” we see a mix of English and Tamil lyrics as well as a fusion of melodies and rhythms. I asked Ragu how this speaks to her identity of being born in Switzerland while staying true to her South Asian —Tamil — identity.

It’s something I didn’t plan initially; it was something that found me. I didn’t actively choose to blend the cultures like this, it just flowed naturally. There was always something special about this song, but I didn’t think it would take me places like this!

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“Chicken Lemon Rice” is not only an amazing track but a delicious recipe. I asked Ragu about her process as she created this tasty track. We loved the video she did with her brother cooking up!

Japhna, my brother, initially sent me this really cool beat. I recorded some gibberish lyrics over the top and then sent it back to him. Then he came up with the chicken lemon rice title even though the song and beat doesn’t have too much to do with this explicitly. It’s about mixing different sounds, words and spices — a fusion basically.

Some of our favorite lyrics from, “Forgot About” were “Sometimes I reread our convos, just to be close to you a bond so rare to find so quick to lose.” These feelings are all too relatable and I asked Ragu to tell us the story behind this track.

The track is about a long-distance relationship — even though he couldn’t be there physically, his words allowed me to imagine him close by. The long is about a very unique bond, and something I’ve never really experienced before in such a strong way. We still remain friends, luckily he never did forget about me.

“Kamali,” is an epic track with the visuals and the story. The track was inspired by a short movie where a seven-year-old girl, Kamali, the only female skater in Mahabalipuram, India pushes against the grain. I asked Ragu what message she hoped to send with “Kamali.”

The message is that our gifts reveal themselves to us at a very early stage in life. Our parents then come in with the realistic, practical view of how your life should go. I think you should follow these gifts, work on your skill and practice this — it will for sure take you places one day.

“Lockdown” fused genres, had amazing production value and a voice that could melt your ears. However, more importantly, the track had a powerful message about finding ways to express ourselves in the midst of crippling isolation. I asked Ragu what were your thoughts, feelings, and emotions while creating this track.

It was about people who can’t be alone, and who need people around them or in relationships with. It was about thinking what these people would be feeling at that weird time in lockdown. I just wondered about these other people who struggle to be alone and putting myself in their shoes (although maybe deep down it is me who struggles to be alone).

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“Santhosam” is the last track on Ragu’s debut mixtape and is the definition of happiness. As this song was a family project I asked Ragu what it meant for her to work alongside her family.

I feel like family is the core of everything. People come and go so fast through life, but family is always there, holding you down and sticking with you. With everything that happens, through the good and the bad, we can share this with the people you love. It was a very joyful process working with them — everyone had their task (lyrics, beat, melody) and role so it was beautiful to see everyone bringing their own thing into the studio.

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We loved the name of Ragu’s debut mixtape” damnshestamil.” I concluded by asking Ragu about the meaning and reason behind the name of this debut project.

The meaning of “damnshestamil” is just about saying, I’m here, I know who I am, I know where I’ve come from and I know what my purpose in life is. I also wanna put Tamil on the map!

The message of “Illuminous” is that you believe everyone has one true unique gift, that could bring us back to our true selves. You hope others find their passions. What are some steps, strategies and words of advice you would like to give our readers to find their passions?

You have to take the journey inwards and find out who you are. I would say journaling helps a lot with this introspection. Your family and friends can help with that also. Sometimes other people can see more in you than you can see in yourself.

Photo courtesy of @amitybloc