His passion is music (although he would argue it is chocolate!). His voice, so deliberate yet strategically subtle, gentle teasing you into submission for the message he brings. A winning combination to the lyrics, which are layered like a rich tapestry of life experience, higher learning, faith, goals and love. It’s like the poetic murmurings of a beautifully sung prayer – it touch’s your heart and leaves light in your soul!
Read the following in depth interview to uncover why this inspiring new artist is promoting the one thought “the human solution is a divine evolution” and why he has decided to donate his profits to a charity close to his heart.
So Stu, when and why did you start playing guitar, and when did you discover you had the talent to sing?
I asked for a guitar on my 16th birthday, as soon as I knew a few chords I started writing my own songs. A few months later I made my own studio by lashing together my ghetto blaster to my girlfriend’s dad’s stereo.
I knew I could sing as a child because I could imitate all the songs I liked, but I was v shy.
What are your fondest musical memories?
Playing my old Walt Disney record, yes vinyl! My favourite “I wanna be like you” over & over. Still know it word for word & every monkey noise.
Then my next favourite memory is when I was 17 & went to Dingwalls Jazz club on a Sunday afternoon. Giles Peterson was playing frenetic but musical 60’s bebop & two guys (I think maybe “brothers in Jazz”) were dancing, the floor just cleared for them. I can’t describe in words how I felt, the sound & the sight just moved me to tears as I stared, it was a v deep experience. They had such style, grace & physicality, the rhythm, joy & energy was shinning from them, the sound … it was a high that no drugs could come close too.
That experience got me into dancing, so I went every week to these Sunday afternoon jazz clubs, even on my own, it was so cool. Never packed & always full of interesting souls struttin n stepping, expressing their thing. You can see a person s soul through the eyes & how they move to rhythm.
So who are your influences?
The person who is the single biggest influence on me musically is my music teacher, Professor TV Gopalakrishnan, a master of Classical Indian music.
Who are your favorite musicians? Groups?
Musicians & influence is such an enormous question for me; so here goes. My musical training came from listening, first to the radio, with whatever caught my ear. As a young teenager I loved rock n roll, especially Little Richard, but the radio is so diverse & so my taste has always been diverse, but generally its Black music in its many forms. Growing older I could afford records: I loved the songs Prince did, up until about 90’s, loved hip hop beats, conscious lyrics of KRS1 & Chuck D, but the best flow was Big Daddy Kane. At that time you were either an indie kid or hip hop, I was the odd ball, I did like both, though I could only dance to hip hop. Indie songs, bands I appreciated. The breaks in hip hop got me into funk, JB being the obvious, but then the breaks began to get more obscure, jazz influenced & soon my record collection was well over 10,000; gospel, jazz, funk, soul etc.
No one name really stands out, but sooo many songs & artists have influenced me.
So how do you handle mistakes during a performance and do you ever get nervous before a performance?
Mistakes, if u don’t make a big deal of it, other people won’t either. When buskin on the underground I would actually be trying things out, writing, working ideas. True performance art ! the energy & vibe of all those people would become part of the creation. Busker’s do 2 hour slots, its all v official, sometimes for those 2 hours I’d work on 1 song, but people only hear 10 seconds of it so it cool. Any way if I didn’t make “mistakes” I wouldn’t get ideas. Of course I got nervous. The mind is such a trickster. Some days u listen to its crap more than others.
Do you work with other artists, If so who? and why?
Yeah, I got into doing my own stuff by working with others. My first single “Money” by Coco & the Bean, I did the rap for it. These guys did hip hop in their bedroom so this inspired me to do likewise. Currently I’m working with Sali, a Carnatic (south Indian classical) singer on an innovative dance track, also an RnB singer called Kavita, she’s great but keeps burping like Barney (Simpson’s) after a great vocal take.
Ha ha, very funny – I’ll get you back for that!
So, tell us about the REAL Stu?
Big question eh? I’m special, there’s no one quite like me. Then we are all unique & special so I guess I’m ordinarily special. I’m very blessed, I’ve had the opportunity to experience a “western” & “eastern” family life. I’m v healthy. Funny, well I laugh at myself. V positive, love life, especially people, but I think our potential is nowhere near reached. I’m also blessed with many talents, musical creations being the primary. But the more I witness people struggling with themselves, religion, God etc the more I realize that my most treasured blessing is having a direct communication with the divine. I always feel truly at ease with my personal faith & this actually also makes me feel at ease with any religious faith. Religious texts are words but the wisdom is woven between the words, interpretation depends on the heart & mind of the reader. The essence of love is universal, humanity is corrupted by ego. Music transcends all this political egotistical crap because its feeling comes not from words but the movement of notes. Like love it has its universal law. I study Carnatic music because the “laws” that define this music have evolved over thousands of years & its focus is more internal, it has more culture, not to say its better, but it has a different emphasis. It will be many more years before I will master this art but its influence will permeate into my creations.
Why do you want to record and release your own music?
I make one big assumption in life: if I like something, other people will also like it, not everyone, but then not everyone likes Thai red curry, but I do.
“I admit, this rhyme is not mine, it’s inspired, divine….” That’s a quote from “Beats n Love” but it reflects my music. I feel that my music will inspire other people, whether it’s a social or political comment or whether its lust or love, my tunes are varied, but whatever the message & emotion that combination of notes conveys, other people will share & appreciate hearing it.
I feel I have a “product” which is not eclectic, cliquey but has a wide appeal. I want to get “mass” appeal, that will mean more influence, power & of course money. With those ingredients I stand a chance of creating a school for deprived kids.
How do you describe your music to people?
It depends who I’m talking to. Music is a science, its full of maths, symmetry, structure, its incredibly beautiful. Its nature & nature is not as crazy & abstract as many people think. If you are not aware of the fundamentals of it, then how can it be discussed? If u wanna chat like a critic then its all about your perspective, your interpretation & feeling. Many people may share that feeling but not everyone so its not really a discussion.
My music is natural, so without trying it has a structure, symmetry, flow etc. its natural because its inspired: by the millions of songs, rhythms & nature, by life, energy & love.
Out of the songs that you have written so far, which one is your favorite and why?
“On my way” seems to be a big favorite, I like it cos its catchy & has a great positive message. Its not my personal favorite. My favorites are some of my earlier tracks which wont be released till I’m in a position of having a great studio & engineer to do them justice. The sound scape of them is amazing, I would spend sometimes up to 4 months on one track. Now I spend about 4 weeks.
What challenges have you had to face in order to pursue music?
Time has been the biggest challenge. I’ve needed a lot of time to be ready for this release. Physically, spiritually, mentally as well as musically. I’ve practiced yoga for 15 years, studied martial arts, Sufiism, Carnatic music, ayervedic medicine, dance, all to get a balance in my life. I trained to become a school teacher, its all part of the BIG plan, its starting to come together. My drive has pushed me through some v tough times, fate has continually pulled me along. I’m ready now.
Why have you decided to donate your profits to charity and why have you chosen this charity?
The Parry Charitable foundation is a small independent charity that provides a loving home for handicapped children. It’s standard of care is high & there is a big waiting list. Every penny from donation goes into helping the kids NOT on administration. ALL the workers are volunteer, most charities 70% of your donation goes into paying their admin costs.
I know this charity & sometimes work there myself, for these reasons I donate to them.
In the long term I want to set up my own school for deprived children. I’m a qualified school teacher, yoga teacher & scientist as well as many other “life” skills. From a young age I would talk to God. When I was 12 years old I received instructions to help deprived children. This goal is my purpose, music is the vehicle to propel me there.
OK, finally what does “the human solution is a divine evolution” really mean?
It’s from the track ‘On my way’….
Ok this small phrase has a big meaning, & rather like a sutra in yoga text, a surah in the Holy Qur’an or verse from the Holy bible its open to interpretation. Unlike those wonderful books of wisdom the writer is fortunately for me still around. So here’s the intended meaning: evolution; this word is kicking up a big fuss lately, in America some schools are refuting the scientific evidence & claiming the “literal” bible version of evolution. Well books of ancient wisdom such as the Old Testament were written with hidden meaning & depth that belies a superficial surface. The true value of the words lie in studying those hidden meanings. The Darwin theory of evolution & the scientific evidence is compatible with religion in fact it’s magnitude & beauty reinforces a divinity & creation. However this is not the platform for this debate & as I said before, interpretation is dependant on perspective. What’s important is that evolution is not HISTORICAL its continuous. We are still evolving & compared to the history of the world we have just climbed down from the trees. If you look at how we behave we are still as ruthless as we ever were as beasts. Capitalism is the law of the jungle but applied to the City. “Only the strong survive. “ Fortunately this is not the whole story. All over the world people are silently working, giving unconditional love to those who are in need or weaker. I believe that right now, historically, we are at a cross roads of evolution. Technology is changing our lives & the global communication phenomena can & is spreading a message of love. It’s mixed up with violence & sex but Its harder to get any more violent than we are, its impossible to take off any more clothes, but the message of love is limitless & individuals & groups everywhere are able to contribute & unify in a way even the hippies never dreamed off. I read in a Sufi book once (can’t remember which one, sorry). “When we act like animals we are worse than the animals but when we act like angels we are better than the angels.”
Its just a case of time. When will we choose the path of love?
Thank you to Stu for sharing his work with us and giving us the time for this interview, and thank YOU for reading the article.
Peace and Love
If you would like to know more about this artist, then please check out his website WWW.STUSOUNDS.COM
Article written by: Kavita Sohanta – I DO NOT burp in between songs! 🙂