Star Spot with Devan Ekambaram, Award-Winning Music Producer and Film Composer
From Film Scores to Grammy® Winning Vocals: Devan Ekambaram Talks Career, Inspiration, and New Projects
Welcome to this episode of Star Spot! I’m Merry, and in this series, I interview InterContinental Music Awards winners and insiders, bringing you exclusive insights into the music industry. Today, I’m thrilled to have with me Devan Ekambaram, a music producer, vocal arranger, and film composer. He has worked with renowned artists and composers in the music industry.
Devan’s impressive career as a film composer began in 2010, receiving critical acclaim for his work on the film “Bale Pandia”. He is set to release his second feature film as a composer, Pattarai, in 2023. Devan’s diverse talents and experience have established him as a versatile and accomplished artist, also being our brilliant 2022 World Music Winner – Best of Pangea!
Apart from his work in producing and composing music for films, Devan has also gained international recognition as a vocalist and vocal arranger. He was featured on the 2015 Grammy® winning New Age album, WINDS OF SAMSARA, by Ricky Kej & Wouter Kellerman. Recently, Devan was featured as a vocalist and vocal arranger on the 2022 Grammy® winning New Age album, DIVINE TIDES, by Stewart Copeland & Ricky Kej. Don’t miss out on Devan’s latest album “Brindavan“, which is streaming across all platforms.
Can you give us a brief biography of yourself ?
I’m Devan Ekambaram, a musician originally from New Jersey but now based in India. I got my first record deal with Warner Brothers licensee Magnus Sound while in college, which kick-started my music career in India. I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world, but being in India has been particularly beneficial for me.
The pandemic gave me the chance to focus on my independent music career and connect with audiences from different parts of the world, which reminded me of my teenage dreams of being on global radio. As an independent artist, I’m now creating music that’s authentic to my style and personality, rather than being limited to Indian film music.
What inspired you to pursue a career in music? when did you first realize you wanted to be a musician ?
Music has always been a significant part of my life, and I’ve been able to identify the biggest acts of each year since my Nursery School days. It has inspired and defined me, and I cannot go a day without listening to it. In high school, I joined the choir and marching band as both an instrumentalist and a vocalist, which fueled my passion for music. I also began recording music during this time, which was my initial foray into the world of music production.
Who inspired you to pursue music as a career?
My mother played a significant role in fostering my passion for music by exposing me to a variety of genres from a young age. I was also inspired by watching television shows like American Bandstand and Solid Gold, where artists would showcase their talents. I always dreamed of pursuing a career in music, and my parents were supportive of my aspirations.
How would you describe the music you create?
My music is a fusion of traditional Indian elements with smooth jazz, influenced by artists like Dave Koz, Kenny G, Grover Washington Jr., and David Sanborn. During the lockdown, I experimented with blending these genres, which resulted in my award-winning song at the InterContinental Music Awards in the Pangea category. Featuring a smooth jazz saxophonist and an Indian bamboo flautist playing the same melody in their respective genres. This fusion of styles is an exciting exploration for me, and I look forward to sharing it with new audiences.
Can you describe your creative process?
As a melody-oriented person, I prefer collaborating with a lyricist to create my music. Depending on the project, either I come up with a melody and have the lyricist write lyrics for it, or I receive lyrics and work on a complementary melody. Sometimes we brainstorm ideas and collaborate to determine the best approach. Ultimately, it’s about finding the right balance between melody and lyrics to create a cohesive and meaningful piece of music.
Congratulations on your second Grammy certificate for your contribution to “Divine Tides”! Can you tell us more about the album and the concept behind it?
Thank you! “Divine Tides” is a collaborative album featuring many talented artists from around the world, including Ricky Kej, Stuart Copeland, and various flautists. The album is a fusion of Indian classical and contemporary music with a touch of world music, creating a beautiful soundscape that takes the listener on a journey. The concept behind the album is to convey a message of hope and unity in the face of the global pandemic.
Each track is inspired by a different body of water, whether it’s a river, an ocean, or a waterfall, and is dedicated to a particular deity or aspect of nature. For example, ‘’Himalayas’’ is dedicated to Lord Shiva and the majestic mountains, while ‘’Kaveri’’ is dedicated to the sacred river Kaveri in South India.
Overall, ‘’Divine Tides’’ is a beautiful and unique album that celebrates the beauty of nature and the power of music to bring people together.
That’s a great mindset to have! What are some of the moments in your musical journey that have stood out to you so far?
There have been so many moments that have stood out to me, it’s hard to choose just a few. Winning my first international award in the Pangea category at the Global Music Awards was definitely a highlight, as was being featured on Ricky Kej’s Grammy-winning album, ‘’Divine Tides’’. Performing at the United Nations Headquarters in New York was also an unforgettable experience. But honestly, every time I get to create and share my music with the world is a special moment for me.
How did you come across the InterContinental Music Awards and what was your experience like with ICMAs?
I first heard about the InterContinental Music Awards when I was submitting my music to various awards two years ago. I was inspired by an R&B singer named Tracy Cruz from California. Later, in 2020, when I became a Grammy member, I started following different artists to learn from them, and that’s how I discovered the InterContinental Music Awards (ICMAs).
My experience with ICMA was fantastic. The platform is inclusive and caters to artists from all over the world, and the categories are broad, giving scope for a diverse range of artists to participate. I saw many artists from Nigeria and other countries, and it was wonderful to see them being supported.
One of the highlights of my experience with ICMAs was seeing many people from different countries during their acceptance speeches. It was an excellent opportunity to connect with artists from different parts of the world, and I even had the chance to meet Beth Hilton, who sponsored the 2022 ICon prize.
Overall, the experience was amazing, and I am excited to continue learning and growing as an artist. Recently, I got in touch with Heerraa, who won the ICon award this year, and we are planning to meet up during her visit to India. I’m looking forward to spending time with her and connecting with another talented artist.
What has been the biggest challenge you faced in your career?
As an artist, consistency has been the best advice I’ve received. The music industry is constantly evolving, and unexpected challenges arise, like the lockdown due to the pandemic. Before lockdown, I was traveling and performing in different countries every month, which was the biggest source of income for me and many other artists.
Nothing can duplicate live performances and the connection with the audience when you’re right in front of them singing or performing. Since COVID, everyone in the music world has faced this challenge. For almost three years now, it has been a struggle to adjust to the new normal.
Currently, things are slowly picking up, but it’s a process that requires patience and baby steps. The budgets have changed, and a lot of newcomers have entered the industry doing Instagram and Facebook live performances. As someone who comes from a generation where we just played, it’s important to adapt and stay committed to our craft, regardless of the medium.
What is the best advice you’ve been given as a musician?
As a musician, I often meet young people who are eager to gain more likes and followers on social media. However, I always advise them to focus on their music and becoming better artists. I believe that by working hard and striving to be great, the likes and followers will come naturally.
It’s important to take inspiration from the legendary artists who have set the foundation for music today. Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Madonna, and Diana Ross are just a few examples of artists who have made a lasting impact. By studying their work and finding your own identity as an artist, you can create music that people will remember and admire.
It’s not about becoming famous quickly with pointless videos that get millions of views. Instead, it’s about creating something that will make a lasting impression on people and keep them coming back for more.
Do you have any final thoughts to share with our audience, Devan?
Absolutely! I invite everyone to listen to my latest album, “Brindavan,” which is available on all major music platforms. As an artist, I strive to create music that touches the hearts of my listeners and inspires them to follow their dreams. So, if you’re looking for some soulful tunes, check out “Brindavan” by Devan Ekambaram. Thank you!
- Website: https://devanekambaram.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/devanekambarammusic/
- Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1HUZ6vfsSWpfLoxjgDavEB
Click here to watch the full interview on Instagram
InterContinental Music Awards Team