Today, Brooklyn-based Indian vocalist, songwriter and performing artist Shilpa Ananth shared a transfixing new avant-pop video for “Align 2.0 (ARKTKT Remix),” premiered on Rolling Stone India — a bouncy, groove-filled relative to the lush original.
Eastern melodies swirl around a soulful electro-pop palette, hinting at the song’s underlying themes of identity and self. For Ananth, the song is about “wrestling with my many identities, trying to find balance between all the languages I speak, dream, communicate and sing in, and wondering when ‘my time’ to become the one I was born/meant to be will finally come.” Fusing sounds of East and West, the song and video were crafted last year while the artist was quarantined at home in Dubai. “It gave me hope and kept me sane during a time of cancelled gigs, uncertain future in music & general anxiety,” she says.
The video tells the story of a woman stuck in a robotic, routine-bound black & white world. One night she breaks routine, reaching for the all-powerful sands of time in an hourglass, and is thrown into a parallel universe opposite of everything she knows.
She is amazed and excited at the sudden color and chaos, though it quickly turns into a nightmare when she realizes that a world with no time isn’t any better than a world that abides by it. She breaks the hour glass, the source of her imbalance, and makes her own gold world where everyone can live together in peace – not by following time, but by following nature. “It is my way of expressing how it feels to be a part and product of my own different worlds, how I can be at home anywhere yet also feel like I belong nowhere,” Ananth explains.
Growing up in a home constantly filled with traditional Indian music, her brother introduced Ananth to western music in her teens and she felt a magnetic pull towards the voices of Norah Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Erykah Badu.
Graduating with honors from Berklee College of Music, she has translated her experiences into a unique sound that fuses the dreamy landscapes of South India with soul, jazz and electronic influences. She brings together 3 of the oldest Indian languages (Tamil, Malayalam, and Hindi) with English, creating art that transcends borders and cultures — as seen on debut EP Indian Soul.
Ananth has also recorded and performed with Grammy award-winning composers like A.R. Rahman and Bobby McFerrin, featured as a vocalist on the recently Grammy-nominated album ONA by Thana Alexa and has played at the prestigious Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, John F. Kennedy Center and beyond. She has also partnered, performed and worked alongside SapnaNYC and Sakhi and is currently working on her second EP of original music titled Reproduction, set to release in Fall 2021.