NU alumnus Deepikaa Sriram discusses music outside of careers


Deepikaa Sriram (Communication ’19, ’21) was a member of Brown Sugar, a South Asian a cappella group group, when she was a student at Northwestern, integrating music into her life. Today, she is a speech-language pathologist in Birmingham, Alabama, and continues to make music for herself while pursuing her career. Recently one of her TikToks, a mashup of songs “Kabira” from the Bollywood movie “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani” and “Easy on Me” by Adele, has exceeded 4,000 likes. The Daily caught up with Sriram to discuss what music means to her, the viral TikTok, and how to shine the spotlight on people who aren’t full-time musicians but still find meaning. through the trade.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

The Daily: Where does your love for singing come from?

Sriram: I trained at the Carnatic music, and it started when I was little. My mother is a Carnatic singer and has a degree in Carnatic music, so I grew up in a musical household. My dad sings, my mum sings, my sister sings – we all grew up singing, and it was our way of bonding as a family, and it still is in many ways. But what really shaped my singing style and my spirit of putting things together, combining different genres and styles of music, came from me and my dad. We used to listen to songs on the radio together and mix them with Tamil songs. I kind of continued this when I joined Brown Sugar, my freshman year of college, and it was so awesome. I found a group of people who understood my love for meeting musical worlds in a whole new way. I fell in love with writing arrangements and finding a way to advance this style of music. It was interesting to explore music from different angles, and my relationship with music changed: it’s less about playing and more about making music for myself.

The Daily: How do you keep the music alive while you pursue speech therapy?

Sriram: Music will always be a part of my life, and I don’t know if that will ever change. This is all that fuels my passion at that time. Recently, I got into music production. Something that I have picked up from the onset of COVID-19 until now is the DJing for the bhangra teams. I’m doing the NU Bhangra mix for this year and I’m doing some side stuff. DJing was a challenge in a different way because you have to understand the music from a totally different point of view – the rhythm and the dancing are different from making arrangements. They are two different lenses of musical composition which lend themselves well together.

The Daily: Can you tell us about the process of making your TikTok and receiving it?

Sriram: To be honest, I thought about the idea when I was singing in the shower, and I got it. It wasn’t a great stroke of genius at the time. One important thing for me was that I always put on nice clothes and focused on my appearance before recording, but this time I decided to just record in my pajamas. I was really happy to see a lot of positive responses. The fact that Arvind Kywalya, one of my favorite singers, saw it and commented on it made me feel very welcome in the community. My biggest inhibition on posting on social media is the amount of attention it gets. People speak very loudly about their opinions, especially on TikTok. I didn’t post it with the intention of getting a lot of attention, I was just expressing my thoughts and feelings and not really thinking about what would happen. I wouldn’t say it went really viral, but (it) definitely got a lot of attention, and it was interesting.

The Daily: What do you see yourself doing as you look to the future?

Sriram: I have so much room to grow. What’s important is that I wonder so much how something could have been better, and at one point I was like, “This is what it is, and I’m putting it out there. ” Hope to put more stuff out there – now that I know it’s not that scary, maybe one day if I put another idea in place, I’ll keep doing it. My life would be very different and very boring without music. It is not because music is not at the forefront of our professional lives that it does not fuel everything.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @laya_neel

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