Tarini is a singer-songwriter who blends her passion for music with a commitment to social justice in her songs. Growing up in Chennai, India, like many other musicians, she was introduced to the arts by her parents. Tarini studied English Literature and Conflict Transformation and leverages her education and experiences to craft lyrics that resonate with the human condition. She isn't afraid to express her feelings and opinions, and she strives to be empathetic and open-minded in her songwriting. She believes that music has the power to bring people together and remind them of their shared humanity. In this interview, we will talk to Tarini about her music and her artistic journey.

What influences your music?
I think, I am definitely drawn to music that emphasizes lyricism and evokes strong emotions. I have always been a creative person, involved in art, music, theater, poetry writing, and I still channel elements of those early interests into my music today. I find inspiration in personal experiences as well as the world around me. The human experience is incredibly beautiful and complex, and when you can capture its vulnerability in words and melody, it transcends the physical realm.

In terms of musical influences, I draw a lot of inspiration from artists like Taylor Swift, Lizzy McAlpine, and Phoebe Bridgers for their honest and confessional songwriting. My singing style is influenced by artists like Tori Kelly and Sara Bareilles. Currently, I'm obsessed with the artist Searows, who I think is a phenomenal songwriter and producer.

How would you describe your work, your sensibility as a musician?
With over ten years of training in Western classical vocals and training in Carnatic music, I believe I've developed a strong foundation for my musical ear. This background taught me the discipline required to turn a hobby into a skill.

Regarding writing my own music, I have always been emotionally expressive and engaged in creative writing since childhood. My degrees in English Literature and Conflict Transformation significantly shaped my sensibilities as a songwriter. Apart from technical skills, to be a good songwriter, you need to be introspective, in touch with your emotions, willing to be honest and vulnerable, and learn how to channel all of that into creating art. The artists who inspire me the most are those who explore deeply personal experiences and feelings, unafraid to reveal their vulnerability to the world. I find that the more honest you are in your music, the more others connect to it. So, I strive to channel that honesty into my songwriting.

In terms of music production, I am continually learning on the job. I've had the opportunity to work with incredible producers like Sanyanth Naroth of Easy Wanderlings, Alvin Presley, and now Joseph Nichols and Lexington Bowler, with whom I made my EP. With each project, I see tangible growth in my understanding of what I'm looking for in terms of musical arrangement, harmonies, and one valuable lesson I've learned is that sometimes less is more. It's about finding the right balance of instrumentation and layering that can elevate a song to sonically reflect the emotions of the lyrics. My EP represents the most hands-on experience I've had with the production process, and I'm incredibly proud of the work we've done as a team.

What inspired your new music that is going to be released soon?
I am releasing my debut EP very soon, and I would say the upcoming music centers around themes of growth, healing, and change. Some parts are fun and exciting, while other parts are scary, making me feel vulnerable and exposed. But I like to think of every experience as something I will learn and grow from. Human beings are so resilient, just like a flower that pushes through and blooms from a crack in a rock. I explore these themes in various contexts.

The first single from the EP, 'Chose You For You,' was released earlier this year. It's a song I wrote for a friend who has faced numerous challenges in life, lacked support from their family growing up, and yet, against all odds, has blossomed into a beautiful, vibrant, kind, and intelligent person. They had many reasons not to trust the world, but instead, they used their experiences to show compassion to others and now have a chosen family that reciprocates the same love and acceptance. Life can be tough, and, as Uncle Iroh says in Avatar: The Last Airbender (my favorite show), "While it is always best to believe in oneself, a little help from others can be a great blessing." We are all inherently worthy of radical acceptance and love, and sometimes we just need to be reminded of that.


What emotion would you say music evokes in you?
I believe that music evokes precisely the emotion I need in the moment. Sometimes, it helps me express feelings that have been pent up inside of me, struggling to find release. I have specific songs I turn to when I need a good cry, tunes that boost my spirits, and tracks I listen to when I want to scream. There's a playlist for every occasion and mood. One thing is for certain; music is an essential soundtrack that helps me navigate my days. However, there are also moments when I need to set my earphones aside and listen to the silence that surrounds me.

Tell us about your creative process...what is your approach to this creative madness?
I'd say my creative process, like that of many other artists, is a bit chaotic until it isn't. It varies every time, and sometimes it flows through me as if I'm not in control of my own mind. Then, it departs, and I never know when it will return. Honestly, that part can be quite stressful because I never know when inspiration will strike. So, I dedicate time to practice and stay prepared to be its vessel when those flashes of inspiration come.

To be more specific, my songwriting process has taken various forms, but it usually involves just me, my notes app, and my guitar. Sometimes, I start by writing a poem and then rework it into a song. That's how I created my first single, "I Deserve Better," and the entire song came together in about 30 minutes!

Other times, I stumble upon an interesting chord progression that evokes a specific feeling or memory, and I build the song around it. However, there are moments when a song simply refuses to come together on my schedule. Perhaps I've crafted an inspired chorus, but that's all I've got for the day. I try not to stress too much about it and trust that if the song is worthwhile and worth revisiting, it will come together in its own time. In the meantime, I live my life more, read books, listen to other artists, and over time, piece together the song to completion. The more I've experienced this process, the more I've come to appreciate the chaos involved. I've found resonance in something John Mayer once said (I am paraphrasing) - writing a song is like putting together a puzzle piece. You can see the whole song there, but it's your job to fit the pieces together until they align just right. The more I write, the more I can see that visual aspect of the process. It's during these moments that I feel, "Okay, I'm genuinely developing this skill and witnessing my growth in real-time." It's a pretty awesome feeling.

Words Hansika Lohani
Date 12.10.2023