Sid Sriram announces new album Sidharth, his debut for Def Jam Recordings. Already known to much of the world as one of the most prominent contemporary vocalists in Bollywood creating music in the Carnatic tradition of South India, Sriram endeared himself to a new audience this past May when he performed a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR backed by an 8-piece band that earned immediate acclaim. That presentation of Sriram‘s music has proven to be serendipitous, as it affords a taste of what to expect from his forthcoming album that will release on August 25th.
Sidharth marks a new chapter for Sriram, who grew up in Fremont, California through the 90’s and aughts before relocating to India in 2015. Beyond the obvious difference of Sidharth’s vocals being delivered in English, the process of creating the album was unlike any Sriram has undertaken before. In the summer of 2021, he took a leap of faith and hopped on a plane to Minneapolis, where he and producer Ryan Olson (Poliça, Gayngs, Bon Iver), whom had previously only met on Instagram, spent an intensive week in the studio. Most of the songs were tracked live by a small team of Olson associates, including Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, of whom Sid was a longtime fan. In a full circle moment, Sid will be opening for Bon Iver on tour this August following his headline show at the Roxy on July 26th.
Fronting this band, Sriram threw his entire creative self into crafting vocal hooks and elaborate songforms on the fly. The music that resulted from that studio joyride is a dizzying combination of pop anthems and progressive experiments, centered on his heart-wrenching vocal performances and Olson’s adventurous electronics. Hook-forward tracks with dance floor energy, like the Afrobeat-inflected “Friendly Fire,” slot in next to unexpected diversions like “The Hard Way,” a celebration of family and loved ones featuring a drum and bass groove that splits the difference between Janet Jackson in her Velvet Rope era and post-Kid A Radiohead.
All this may seem like a far cry from the music that has made Sid famous with Bollywood fans worldwide since breaking out with his first hit soundtrack song, “Adiye” (from 2013’s Kadal), just a year out of music school. Indeed, many of the million-plus-viewed videos of Sid feature him singing ragas backed by traditional instruments, not freestyling personal narratives over glitchy 808s and Auto-Tune beds. But before his sudden success, Sriram was an American 20-something obsessed with pop and R&B; he found early viral success by posting a Frank Ocean cover (“We All Try”) to YouTube. In many ways, Sidharth highlights the ways in which the musical personalities of that younger version of Sid and the Carnatic music star Sid relate to and complement one another.
In conjunction with the album’s announcement, Sriram is sharing the aforementioned “The Hard Way” alongside a Lucas Ochs-Messick-directed music video. The song is a perfect encapsulation of Sriram‘s two worlds converging on Sidharth.
Sid Sriram Upcoming Live Dates
* = supporting Bon Iver
7/26 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy
8/5 – Madison, WI @ Breese Stevens Field *
8/8 – Missoula MT @ KettleHouse Amphitheater *
8/9 – Ogden, UT @ Ogden Twilight *
8/11 – Boise, ID @ Outlaw Field at the Idaho Botanical Garden *
8/12 – Bend, OR @ Hayden Homes Amphitheatre *
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