Degree Kaapi with Devan
(Exclusive interview for British South Indians by Sharanya Bharathwaj)
One of the finest singers of Tamil/Indian film Industry, DEVAN has captured millions of hearts right from DAY-ONE of his career! His silver toned-tenor and mellifluous voice has been one of the most sought-after voices for nearly two decades now. ‘O Mariah, Smaiyai yai, Oray Nyabagam, Nahna na na’ are few of his super hit songs that received overwhelming response.
Devan Ekambaram who is the founder of the instrumentalist/vocal trio DAV PROJECT and the A CAPPELLA groups OSLO AKKAPULLAS & KURAL, has so far sung in more than 500 films, across all the South Indian languages.
This young music composer, vocal arranger, dubbing artist, judge in Vijay TV’s Airtel Super Singer, will soon be in UK for the event- ‘ISAI PLUGGED-IN’ on 28th May, hosted by ‘Bluefeather Studios’.
This chirpy Indian-American singer speaks exclusively to BSI ahead of his tour to the UK! Here are few excerpts from the telephonic conversation:
Greetings from British South Indians!
BSI: Many of us are aware of the concept-‘Unplugged’. What does ‘Plugged in’ actually mean?
DE: ‘Unplugged’ version involves instrument playing sans all electronics and modern equipments. However, we will be making use of all the acoustics in this concert. So, we used the reverse logic and named it- Isai Plugged in!
BSI: In what way is this gig different from a regular light music show?
DE: This would definitely be a unique show. It’s a great combination of talents. Definitely a ‘NOTE’- worthy show where you can enjoy songs with harmony, jamming and improvisations, without disturbing the actual beauty of the song. There is a lot of creativity involved and there will be NO mechanical presentation like the usual light music shows. In fact, all the musicians were especially hand-picked by us. Diluckshan, a very promising and talented singer from SriLanka, plays the guitar too. Can’t think of a better choice than him. Likewise, all our other musicians are multi-talented as well…so there is no scope for the quality of the programme to be compromised.
BSI: We understand that the orchestra musicians are localities from UK & Europe. How do you manage your practice sessions?
DE: We have been practising our sessions via Skype! We all meet/login at a convenient common time for practise and have been practising non-stop every day. Sometimes exchange of notes happen over the phone. These musicians are really brilliant and hardworking. I have been taking time to work with each of them individually to draw best results. Since I am a musician myself and can fortunately, play most of the instruments, it was easier to understand things from their perspective and help them with notes and notations.
BSI: What can the UK audience expect from this show?
DE: High energy songs, definitely. This will be an interactive gig. The songs are sure to be nostalgic for the ones who graduated between 2000-2010. This is the gig I am looking forward the most as it has a mix of few International songs as well from that era. This is going to be something very special to my heart and I am sure the UK audience will appreciate the creativity as well.
BSI: You are basically an Indian-American. Have you faced any difficulties at the initial stages of your career because of this?
DE: Not really, as everything fell in place for me by grace. Honestly, I didn’t even dream of becoming a singer. AR Rahman first sighted me after my first album release and offered me to sing ‘Oh Maariya’. That song became a block-buster hit and there was no looking back since then. Immediately, I got to sing for Illayaraja sir and all other prominent music directors. Subsequently, I ventured into acting, dubbing etc.
BSI: What’s your view on emergence of YouTube channels – (eg) independent musicians having their own music albums/channels? How do you view this trend?
DE: It’s a wonderful thing! It has literally made this globe, your neighbour. Emergence of such YouTube channels has made sharing of videos or songs very easy which was not possible in the past. YouTube is a booming/flourishing source which enables money making easier with comfort, accessibility and convenience.
BSI: Please tell us something about your family……
DE: My wife, Usha and 3.3 year old son, Tanishq, are the pillar of strength and support. My wife hails from Bengaluru and my kith n kin are based in New Jersey.
BSI: Any funny or blooper moment, on stage shows that you would like to share with us…
DE: I reckon a very funny incident that happened during the audio release of the movie- ‘Doubles’. It was music director Srikkanth Deva’s debut film…so to avoid any discrepancies, he opted to play the CDs at the background while the singers were expected to lip sync to the original track. Singer Sujatha lost track of lip sync as there were few chorus bits emerging in between. Suddenly, there was a power failure in the venue. Director Pandiaarajan managed the situation by recollecting the power-failure sentiment that occurred during Illayaraja’s first musical debut- Annakili. Little did I know that the song was recorded in Sukhwinder Singh’s voice as well. The power was restored and the song was played again. To my dismay, the song that was played at the back-ground was in Sukhwinder Singh’s voice! I finally ended up lip-syncing to Sukhwinder’s voice with distinctive style and unique Tamil accent!
BSI: We have seen you as a singer, music director, actor, airtel super singer judge and also a dubbing artist. What next? Future plans?
DE: I have always wanted to be a music director and it remains my long-term goal still. I would certainly derive my contentment only by composing music. Bale Pandiya (2010) paved way to my tryst and thirst of composing music.
BSI: Your message to the UK audience
DE: Buy your tickets and come for the show. You’ll not get disappointed.
Rapid fire questions:
Favourite Food– Rasam rice & fish fry
Favourite place- Keeps changing…Norway for now!
Favourite Song- Anjali Anjali (Duet), Mandram vandha thendralukku
Favourite Actor/actress- Kamal, Vikram, Suriya, Jayapradha and Radha
Favourite Quote: Live and let live ….Always reach for the stars…and don’t listen to people who put you down.
What more? ‘Degree Kaapi‘ readers get an exclusive 15% discount on purchase of tickets. Use code: kaapi15 to avail your discount!
To buy your tickets : https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/isai-plugged-in-tickets-33713704598