Srisha chats her latest single, ‘Without You’, understanding genre, poetry in songwriting and integrating culture in art.
Australian-born Tamil artist Srisha, is proving herself to be one of Australia’s most exciting creatives. Hailing from Western Sydney/Dharug country, Srisha moulds together the influence from her Tamil ancestural routes and her learning through her upbringing. You might be familiar of her name through her spoken poetry work, where she explored contemporary socio-politics to secure her place as an Australian Poetry Slam finalist at the Sydney Opera House in 2017, following her title of Champion in Sydney and NSW. On the music side, she has released three singles, ‘Lie To Me‘, ‘Euphoria’ and most recently, ‘Without You’.
The track showcases Srisha’s unique blend of smooth RnB with lyrical elements from the politically charged spoken word poetry she is known for. ‘Without You’ was made with Naarm/Melbourne producer Ariel Blum, and expertly fuses elements of music and poetry to offer up striking and self-reflective songwriting. Following off the back of her previous two singles and releasing her strongest work to date, Srisha is broadening her horizons and establishing herself as one to watch.
On the track she shares, “Sometimes, we know that we are destined for certain things, destined to be with certain people, or destined to experience certain emotions. ‘Without You’ is about existing without those things, people or experiences. We end up accepting our realities for what they currently are, whilst pining for something we may possibly never attain”.
To get to know Srisha more, we chat to her about her latest single, deciphering genre, poetry in songwriting and integrating culture in art.
Which context most influenced your recent single, ‘Without You’?
Loneliness. If I’m being completely honest, the song is about craving, then nostalgia, then acceptance. In 2021, we’re in this weird state of being where most of us have spent months on end navigating discomfort in our solitude, and it’s a shitty feeling at times but it also begs us to consider what could fill the void, or what we are existing without.
Why does the general overarching genre of R&B best work for the narrative driven focus of your work? What draws you to creating in that genre?
I don’t intentionally choose sounds that fall into the category of R&B. I guess I listen to a lot of R&B, so I associate moments of zen and contentment with those sounds. The narratives I relay are just an expression of my mind, so maybe R&B is the best genre for this moment in my life, but perhaps it will be jazz or psychedelic rock in the future.
In a Venn diagram of poetry and songwriting, what similar skills are required in the middle? What’s a challenge that’s unique to making music compared to spoken word poetry?
Hmm.. I think the overlap in the Venn diagram would be the traits that are common amongst all forms of art – honesty, vulnerability, strength, courage, fear. In terms of skills – I always wrote my slam poetry with a beat in the background, so it’s almost like I was songwriting, with training wheels. I’ve written poems all my life, so I know how to deliver a killer line, and how to make the reader or audience feel what I’m feeling. But I’m quite new to songwriting so I’m still figuring out how to melt those words into the music, and let them soak into the sounds organically.
What evolution do you think ‘Without You’ showcases in your artistic journey? Where do you think you most shine on this record compared to the previous two tracks?
I always want to be improving with anything that I do, and I think that’s evident in the evolution of my music.
With ‘Euphoria’, I was experimenting with whatever weirdness came to me, just to see how far I could push the boundaries. Everything I was seeing in Sydney’s scene was the same, and I figured that the smaller my audience was, the more room I had for errors. So I just went ham and had fun with it since it was my first release.
With ‘Lie To Me’, I let my vocal range take centre stage. I’d shied away from singing because it always felt more personal than rapping, but I guess I’d grown into a space in my life where I felt okay to do it.
‘Without You’ is easily my favourite so far – it just feels fun and groovy, and I always play it in the car and sing along. I never did that with the other two, and I was always picking at things that I could have done differently. I like how this track makes me feel, and it makes me excited to find out how the next one will be.
Is being so open in your art, about your culture, your emotions, and your healing a learnt skill, or was it natural from the start? If so, what helped overcome that barrier to expression?
100% a learning process. I’m learning about my culture and emotions as I create, and creating music is just one way of figuring it out. The healing comes from conversations with my community, and most of the time I don’t even realise that I need healing. It’s wild. I curated an art exhibition for artists of colour between releasing singles, and it gave me so much clarity and direction. We’re in this capitalist world where we’re wired to create content – so often that it’s barely art anymore.
I try to maintain an ongoing state of meditation at all times. That’s my most useful tool in overcoming the barrier to express.
What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?
I’m currently working on improving my live gigs. I want to perform with a live band, which I’ve never done before. I think it’ll bring a whole different level to what I can offer, and I want to see how the music I create in the future will be influenced by it.
Words by PARRY TRITSINIOTIS