Sid Sriram: This or That?
Sid Sriram will be the first person to tell you that he’s ready to break the mould. “I know I’m not your straightforward R&B artist, and the music isn’t straightforward R&B,” he explains. The Los Angeles-based singer and producer brings alternative production, piano and an archive of top 40 pop music covers to a genre previously reserved for polished sounds and elements of hip-hop and jazz. Inasmuch as he preaches his own departure from the usual tenets of R&B, the sheer beauty and soulful quality of his voice makes him a contender to challenge massively popular artists like Miguel and Frank Ocean.
He’s an unapologetic talent who put every ounce of himself into his music, including his personal struggles, anger and political messages. Those qualities are exactly what it takes to create music that communicates the emotional highs and lows R&B is founded on. Sriram first received waves of attention after posting a video to YouTube in which he sings his own rendition of Frank Ocean’s, “We All Try,” with his friend Doc Skim on the accompanying piano.
“That was a huge point of inflection for me,” he explains. After leaving Los Angeles to return to Boston’s Berklee College of Music he experienced the tragic passing of some relatives. “It became a very introspective time and I hit up my friend Doc who played keys. It was really organic, there was a lot of emotion in it. It was the first thing I recorded since I lost my family members.”
The tenderness of his performance translated on film and the video went viral immediately. Part of Sriram’s appeal is that he culls from the pool of popular music as a point of entry to his audience. His belief that songs can be made better in a different context than they’re initially released points to what he sees as being a larger shift in the industry itself.
“There’s a renaissance in R&B right now and I attribute that to the internet. With online there’s no barrier between the artist and the audience. I really wanted to to break that down.” For Sriram, the musicality and performance of a song, his own or someone else’s should be able to present a specific feeling, regardless lyrical content or composition.
After recently releasing the first installment of his debut mixtape West Coast Nightfall Part 1, he relishes his decision to take audio engineering into his own hands. “Since I started writing six or seven years ago I developed this whole world in my head that I wanted to manifest sonically. I went to all these producers and I could never get it to sound the way I wanted. So I started producing myself,” he says. The finished product listens like a memoir of a single creative source from top to bottom.
We caught up with Sriram to learn more about the person behind one of the best mixtapes released during the month of April. The multi-faceted artist took a break from the microphone to pick up a pen and answer a series of questions in the form of our favorite game, This or That? Click through the gallery above to see the original sketches and pick out your own answers!
1. Strings or Percussion?
2. Frank Ocean or Miguel?
3. Early mornings or late nights?
4. High fashion or streetwear?
5. Fast food or fine dining?
6. Throwbacks or innovations?
7. Goodfellas or The Godfather?
Godfather, specifically Part II.
8. Clippers or Lakers?
9. Wallflower or life of the party?
10. Marvel or DC?