Singer-songwriter Sruthi Dhulipala released her debut pop single, “Captive,” streaming on audio platforms Spotify, Youtube, Amazon and Apple Music from December 2020.
Captive, her first original, is a hopeful melody set in a contemporary vibe and is an indie pop song interspersed with Indian Carnatic elements.
A Hyderabad native and San Francisco based publicist, Dhulipala has previously reached out to Connected to India for her music clients, but this is the first time she speaks to Connected to India as an independent singer-songwriter.
A classical foundation
A Carnatic vocalist trained under Hyderabad Sisters B. Lalitha & Haripriya for more than fifteen years, Sruthi trains under Mrs. Rama Vaidyanathan for contemporary vocals.
Born in a musical family, where Carnatic music was a norm and everyone went through the rite of passage of learning classical music, it was only recently that the 24-year-old realized that she wanted to explore it further.
“Carnatic is a part of me; it makes me who I am and I enjoy adding that flavor to my compositions,” says Sruthi.
Sruthi is also a music fellow at an MIT-based startup, IndianRaga that fosters cultural talent in many countries and produces high-quality music projects.
Through IndianRaga, she has already released two productions and is yet to release another one in 2021.
Captive - the words and the melody
Written and composed by Sruthi, Captive is a somber melody that talks about an overthinking millennial, so lost in their thoughts that they end up being captive in their own head.
“Captive is hopeful, positive, yet also realistic at the same time,” says Sruthi.
“When I first wrote the lyrics, I was penning down how I felt at the moment - and that’s how I wanted my song to be - raw, honest, and something that connects instantly to the listener,” she adds.
It's simple yet relatable lyrics on an optimistic note should appeal to any overthinking teenager or young adult today and urge the listener to stop their thinking spiral for a second and just breathe.
“We are all so burdened by the "what if" that we end up being captive in our own heads. This song literally speaks to the worried souls and hopefully makes them realize what's meant to be, will be”, says Sruthi.
Classical touches in the song give it an interesting addition, all the while keeping the listener curious about what might come next.
“Being classically trained, Carnatic music is a part of me - it makes me who I am and I enjoy adding that flavor to my compositions”, she adds.
Juggling profession and passion
“Growing up, my dad always said you need not choose one if you’re good at two careers. In fact, he has a doctorate in music and is an internationally renowned percussionist, while also being a software consultant full time”.
Sruthi follows in his footsteps and dabbles between her two passions as she looks forward to seeing what her future self is going to learn and achieve.
“I'm a Publicist by profession and I enjoy all things branding, PR, and writing. I also help Indie musicians brand themselves and promote their music. This is where the musician in me comes to play - I understand what my client is going through, expecting, and I can put myself in their shoes while strategizing their releases and events”, says Sruthi.
Graduating with a Masters in PR from Boston University, Sruthi worked in places like CBS TV with shows like The Big Bang Theory and The Late Late Show with James Corden.
“Until today, everything I did had a speck of music. And, I guess it makes sense I love doing both PR and music - after all they are both creative fields and keep me excited all the time”, she concludes.
A multi-lingual poetic collaboration
When adding "manwa" alaaps and listening to her composition's structure for the twentieth time, Sruthi wondered how Hindi Shayari might sound as an interlude.
“So, I collaborated with poet and lyricist Sunayana Kachroo who immediately got on board and penned the beautiful poetry that I narrated”, says Sruthi.
The Hindi poetry interspersed within the song is written by Kachroo. It talks about how overthinking is a vicious circle and we end up exactly where we are no matter how much we dwell on it.
Although her mother tongue is Telugu, the Hindi poetry worked out perfectly. “It spoke to different demographics without language barriers. A rich addition to the piece, it elevated the theme retrospecting about the one-way streets of her town”, says Sruthi.
“The line “Mudne ke mod hai, laute yahi magar” is my favorite as it exactly sums up the theme for the entire song”, says Sruthi.
The lines are a bittersweet reminder of how we are caged inside our aspirations, expectations, worries and fears that make us “Captive” in our own heads, says Sruthi.
“It was also my first time narrating Hindi spoken word, so it was an interesting experience”, she adds.
Original singles in the pipeline
Sruthi is on a roll with three originals in the pipeline for release - two in Hindi and one in Telugu.
“I'm excited for the Telugu number, Ee Parugu. It is a festival themed song about a city girl visiting her village for the first time, away from her busy pace she finds little joys that are refreshing,” says Sruthi.
“I am also releasing a Hindi original with Shruthi Iyer, a music fellow I met through IndianRaga and we have collaborated ever since”, she adds.
Titled “Tedhi Zindagi” or crooked life, the Hindi number is a goofy and happy melody that talks about the Tedhi Zindagi we live in, with ups and downs and new challenges at every turn, says Sruthi.
“It’s a peppy, inspiring, positive piece that encourages everyone to take that step and start your slightly imperfect, but sweet and crooked new life. I am excited for things in store and look forward to 2021 being a year of up-skilling and creativity”, she concludes.
Catch Sruthi's original single Captive here.