Shrae is a Singer/Songwriter, Composer, and Performer who is now pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Contemporary Western Music. Her art and enthusiasm for music have been highly impacted by western artists such as Amy Winehouse, Ella Fitzgerald, Bryan Adams, and ABBA as she grew up, having played at several venues and events. Her current musical interests include jazz, r&b, and soul with jazz remaining her personal favourite. Cyrille Aimee, Jorja Smith, and Nai Palm are among her favourite musicians. When she’s not singing or writing songs, you’ll find her penning poems, reading and following current affairs, or engaging or talking about social causes.
Here’s Shrae in a conversation with GOGO Magazine.
1) When did your journey as a musician begin?
I started singing when I was 11, it was purely just a hobby because my dance teacher said I could sing. I professionally started my journey when I was 17, in Singapore when I started taking lessons at the Academy of Rock, Singapore.
2) Tell us more about the experience of writing poetry or talking about social causes.
I’ve always been a very vocal person ever since my childhood, did a lot of Model United Nation conferences and debates, and mentally prepared myself to be a lawyer all my school life. Even joined a law school and completed my diploma in British Law, the passion for human rights and social justice comes from this. As far as poetry is concerned, I’ve been writing poetry even before I got into music. It was just the perfect escape and a great way to express my emotions in ways I couldn’t emote otherwise. The poetry then slowly turned into songwriting very recently to my benefit.
3) Which has been your first track?
The first original that I released online is a Live Session with Compass Box Studio. It’s called “Bout You” and it’s an RnB/ jazz tune which I along with the extremely talented compass box musicians arranged into a bossa nova version.
It was a very thrilling experience.
4) Who has been your inspiration?
I grew up listening to a lot of Bryan Adams, ABBA, Venga Boys, and a few other classics because of my dad’s interest in this genre. Then like any other teenager, I had my pop phase, where I was obsessed with Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift. Jazz happened to me in 2018 when I joined music school and I heard Ella Fitzgerald for the first time. Currently, I really like the music of various Neo-Soul, RnB, and Jazz artists such as Nai Palm, Cyrille Aimee, Tom Misch, Amber Jeane, Lalah Hathaway, Robert Glasper, Snarky Puppy, etc. They’re all supremely talented and inspire me very much. My personal favorite is Caity Gyorgy because her technique and skills are commendable.
5) Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years, I hope to work on a lot more independent projects, work with talented musicians around me, release many more singles and EPs and become an avid live performer.
I hope the current situation of the Corona Virus improves so that the status of Live music goes back to how it was, if not getting better. It’s been extremely exhausting and challenging as an artist in this pandemic, mentally and emotionally.
I am already an educator and I plan to continue to teach in the near future along with releasing music and performing.
6) How would you describe your music?
My music is very experimental. I experiment with genres, sounds, chords, instruments, and vocal textures. For example, A Game For Two would be a complication of bits of everything I love. There’s jazz, RnB, and neo-soul in there, with hints of pop as well. Lyrically, My music is also very personal and intimate because most of the things I write about are based on a personal experience or situation that I’ve faced. I am very comfortable being in this experimental phase as I believe defining and confining yourself to one genre can be a little hectic. At least for me right now.
7) Which has been your most memorable song or project?
I’d say my most recent release “A Game For Two” was the most memorable for me because of the people I worked with. Raag Sethi is not just an incredible musician but also a great person to work with. The whole process of making the song, especially since it’s my debut single is something I’d take with me all my life. I was very overwhelmed, in a good way of course, during the entire duration of my recording in Compass Box Studio as it was refreshing, challenging, and enthralling.
8) What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
You do you. Do not cave into what people say or the pressure that people put on you. Expressing your pain, history, and journey via music is very very precious, embrace it. If you’re stuck with something, having an artist’s block, move out of your usual surroundings and do something or be somewhere that triggers your creativity and thoughts. You have freedom of speech and expression so sing about anything you’re passionate about.
9) Share some of your achievements with the magazine.
I recently worked with two incredibly talented Music Directors. The first one was Harris Jayaraj who’s a renowned name in the Tamil Music Industry. I recorded a song for one of the movies he’s directing music for. It’s a trio song with the very talented Yohani and KK himself. The whole process was very exciting as it was the first time I worked on a film industry project. Secondly, I also sang for an upcoming Netflix project (TBA) which was also the first time I did something for Netflix. I actually have been very glad that people are liking my original music and was overwhelmed when I was placed 2 on the Rolling Stone India’s hit list this week.
10) How was life in quarantine?
Life has been difficult, but not bad. Initially, it was very challenging because I have always been dependent on live music for finances and credibility. But when the pandemic took place, everything stopped and it seemed like a dead end. I found solace in working for an NGO, Sakshi which worked towards the prevention of Child Sexual abuse and Gender-Based Violence and started teaching music online to keep myself busy and going. It was a rocky start, but I ended up loving the peace and happiness it brought to me. A lot of times, staying at home even sparked creativity towards songwriting which I’m grateful for. I just really hope everything gets better really soon and Artists can go back to kicking ass like they always do.