Sai Shravanam, Sound Engineer “ Enjoy Enjaami ”: “ Views don’t define music, it’s intention ”
Did you love “Enjoy Enjaami” and the songs from “Karnan”? This is the result of several hours spent by the sound engineer Sai Shravanam whose latest project is a tribute to the rivers of India.
Sai Shravanam plays a aalaap of his recent musical project “Rivers of India” at his state-of-the-art recording studio Resound India in Adyar, a place he calls “my temple”.
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He switches between computer screens and a giant recording console to play two tracks – one original and the other he worked on – and emphasizes the musical difference. “I wanted that part of the song to be ethereal and the voice to sound like God’s. Sound engineering is extremely important in getting the best out of a musician, ”he says.
And he should know; Sai is the man behind the rich sound of several leading musicians in the world of film and classical music. Recently, he received the Kalaimamani Award from the government of Tamil Nadu, becoming the first sound recorder to do so. His recent works include the viral hit “ Enjoy Enjaami ” and tracks by Dhanush. Karnan, but Sai is pumped with the answer for “Rivers of India”.
“The song is a tribute to the country’s precious water resources and emphasizes the need to protect them,” he says.
Designed by Kanniks Kannikeswaran, “ Rivers of India ” not only features an unprecedented collaboration between Bombay Jayashri, Kaushiki Chakraborty, Rishith Desikan and Amrit Ramnath, but also features a choir section by IIT alumni around the world . “He [Kanniks] worked hard to bring Indian choral music to the United States; he called me about this project for IIT-Madras, ”recalls Sai.
The duo realized that there was not a single song that bears the names of all the great rivers of India and decided to integrate them into one song. “Projects like these give me immense happiness because they help me explore my thirst as a musician and producer. Rivers are something that generations have witnessed; so we formed two mother-son duos (Bombay Jayashri and Amrit, and Kaushiki Chakraborty and Rishith Desikan) ”, he adds.
Bombay Jayashri and Amrit Ramnath
A different rhythm
Sai believes that sound is precious and that he deserved the nickname “the man with the golden ear” because he doesn’t differentiate between genres. “The day I see music as different things, like classical, movies and the like, I’ll be done. Sound and music are my biggest inspiration, regardless of the artist.
His own musicality also plays a big role when mixing and mastering songs. “I am not a technician who changes plug-ins. I end up getting very involved in the work, ”Sai says. His other role is that of a tabla player; he plays regularly for AR Rahman and has had many memorable experiences. ‘Tum Ko Paa Hi Liya’ in Rock star was one of them. “I was called and played only once, then I was asked to leave. There were no covers. I thought Rahman sir didn’t like what I was playing, but when I heard the song, the whole part that I played was preserved. When I asked him about it, he said, “What comes first is from God. What comes next comes from you ”. This profound statement changed my way of seeing life, ”he adds.
Kaushiki Chakraborty and Rishith Desikan
Script and sound
Sai has a unique way of working with songs; he sequences them in order in his recording console, much like a screenwriter would with a script. “Sequencing is important because I believe storytelling is an integral part of music,” says Sai, whose upcoming projects include songs with songwriter C Sathya and singer-songwriter Sean Roldan.
He is truly a backstage technician who contributes to the final music production. “Sound engineering isn’t just about modifying a few knobs. It’s a lifelong dedication to music because it can make or break a song, ”he says.
Sai typically works more than 15 hours a day, cocooned in his air-conditioned studio and working on various genres of music proposed by composers. “It might sound like a good job, but it comes with challenges; as a sound engineer we have to keep listening to multiple versions of the same line multiple times and in different frequencies to see what works and what doesn’t. Only if there is passion and a love for music that one can do it. In movies today, there is pressure to be successful. It is always expected to become successes. But views don’t define music, intention defines it, ”he adds.