Varijashree Venugopal

Varijashree Venugopal

Musician Varijashree Venugopal finds herself where the classical heritage of India weaves with the vibrant hues of global musical expressions. Born in Mysore and brought up in Bangalore, Varijashree’s foray into the world of music began at a very young age, owing to her illustrious parents, H S Venugopal, a maestro flautist, and Rama Venugopal, a renowned vocalist.

‘Both my parents are became my first mother tongue, ’ she reminisces. From identifying ragas at a mere 18 months to staging her debut Carnatic concert at theage of 7, Varijashree’s incline was apparent from the outset.

‘There are some very unique specialities of Carnatic music such as the Swara, Raga and Tala system that I have had the fortune of training in since my childhood. These very fundamentals reflect in everything that I do today in the field of global or crossover music. Carnatic music is like a language that I am taking the help of to understand, appreciate and apply into the different formats of world genres of music that I come across through the various collaborations that I’m a part of. In today’s world we are witnessing the emergence of pathbreaking new sounds in the field of music and the crossing over of multiple cultures that we call fusion today, which is a meeting point of many cultures of music resulting in the birth of new sounds. I find so much freedom in this space amidst all the boundless innumerable possibilities where I can bring in my Carnatic training into a foray of global music.’

However, it was her encounter with the visionary musician Michael League that started a new chapter in her musical narrative. Inspired by him, Varijashree delved into the realm of original composition, crafting a fusion of Carnatic roots and global sensibilities. The culmination of this creative experiment is her upcoming album VARI, a magnum opus that encapsulates her musical ethos in a modern, global sonic palette.

‘VARI celebrates my roots and the music culture of my land...while exploring the possibilities of expression in a global format,’ Varijashree explains. With Michael League at the helm as producer, and Pramath Kiran as co-producer, the album unites artists from diverse musical traditions.

Reflecting on her extensive collaborations, Varijashree speaks of encounters with musical luminaries like Bobby McFerrin, Victor Wooten, and Béla Fleck, each experience enriching her understanding of music’s universal language. Whether traversing the realms of jazz with French trio EYM or delving into the depths of fusion with Italian ensemble Trio Bobo, her collaborations serve as waypoints in a journey of musical discovery.

When talking about the future, Varijashree’s gaze is fixed upon the release of VARI, her biggest project to date which also marks her solo work. With its fusion of Indian classical and global influences, the album represents not only a culmination of her musical aspirations but also a testament to the transcendent power of music to blur boundaries between cultures. ‘This album features up to 40 different artists from the Indian classical and folk roots and global musicians from around the world contributing their gifts. As an artist trained in Carnatic music and aiming to bring in a different sound in the field of global music, I look forward to this release, strumming the strings of the hearts of various music lovers across the globe.’

Words Hansika Lohani
Date 03.05.2024