Suraj Mani is an Indian rock musician, poet-philosopher, songwriter and former lead vocalist and member of the band Motherjane, and one of the prominent personalities in the field of independent music in India. He is popularly known as the ‘singing sensei’ and hails from Kerala, a southern state of India. He has performed with Thaikkudam Bridge, Indian Ocean, Shubha Mudgal, Indus Creed, Megadeth, Opeth, Third Eye Blind, Mr. Big etc.
He is the founder & frontman of Suraj Mani & The Tattva Trip (SMATTT) which is about a real-time, multi-sensory interaction between the artist, audience & a mythical traveller – The Tattva Tripper; who can move through time & space, see into the hearts & minds of most people, tell us their stories & sing us their songs. Apart from this Suraj Mani is also the founder CEO of Suraj Mani Engineers Pvt. Ltd, a premium HVAC firm, Aum I Artistes (media production and artist management) and founder trustee of Aum I Art Foundation (a not for profit music trust). He plays a key role in influencing the growth of independent music in India. His company Aum I Artistes is behind popular music programs, festivals, properties such as Music Mojo, Muse Room, Mojo Rising, Alt & Pepper, HOME Fest, OO Heaven, TGIIR (The Great Indian Indie Recordings) etc. He is a Mechanical Engineering graduate from TKM College of Engineering, Kollam.
Here is Suraj Mani in a conversation with GOGO Magazine.
1) When did your journey as a musician begin?
I had a most unusual beginning as a musician. Because I got ragged when I was in engineering college and that was my launchpad into the field of music. Sheer bloody luck. Smiles!
2) Which was your first song?
The first song that I wrote as a solo artist was ‘Whole’. It is a song about the power of forgiveness. My fav lines: “Cos I’m a sea of forgiveness and not a river of tears.”
3) Which has been your most memorable live performance?
Well, in the lockdown times, it has to be the launch party of my latest release ‘Ignoring Gravity’. I did a zoom gig and there were loads of people there who were all so happy and supportive of what I was doing. It really felt good.
4) Tell us about the story behind “The Tattva Trip” and the journey so far ?
I call the Tattva Trip, my journey after Motherjane. And it’s a term that makes sense to people who attend my gigs and know the stories behind my songs. You see, I’m invariably exploring different topics and every gig begins to feel like a kind of imaginary journey where the audience moves from place to place, emotion to emotion and situation to situation.
5) Who has been your inspiration?
‘What’ is my inspiration is a better question. Life. I find life to be a glorious source for inspiration. Through ups and downs, good times and bad, it’s our response to life that gives us the inspiration for art.
6) Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Travelling the world. Performing music in all kinds of places and connecting to all kinds of people. From street sides to palaces, and commoner to presidents. That’s the feeling I’m focusing on. That universality that connects us all.
7) Tell us about your latest album?
Well, my latest song was ‘Ignoring Gravity’ which went to the #1 pick of the Rolling Stone Hitlist on its release. If I was talking of an album, the closest answer would be my EP Rinse and Repeat. The title track of which went to #2 & #3 on the world and Euro indie charts. That was a great moment. You should definitely listen to that song.
8) Which is your most preferred genre?
At heart, I guess I’m a singer-songwriter. Even when I fronted a prog fusion band like Motherjane. My essential role and joy was and is to write poetry, put a melody to those words and set it to music. I feel blessed to be able to do that.
9) Which has been your memorable achievement?
It has to be the songs. As of today I have written and composed 85 songs. Most are yet to be released. But my moment of delight happens every time I finish a song and I like it.
10) Who is your favorite Indian musician?
Well in the indie scene? Me. Hahahaha.
11) How was life in quarantine?
If people will not hate me, I’ll say it was good. I released 6 songs. Wrote 5 new songs and did a number of online gigs that were really good for my soul. It reaffirmed to me how important it is to my life to be a songwriter and performer. I know I’m an engineer and have a very successful corporate career, but my creative side is what makes me unique and the fact that it gives so much joy to people is priceless.
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