Artwork by Gherkinz

Listen: Rowthiram Pazhagu by Harini Iyer ft. Han Beyli

“I find it odd to associate myself with ‘fusion singer’ because it somehow has a negative connotation to it, people on either spectrum tend to diss you.” 

Harini Iyer returned to Chennai from a stint at Berklee with a sense of loss, standing on the precipice between an identity crisis and wanting to connect to her roots. She began trading little ideas and loops with bass player, producer and schoolmate Han Beyli. A guitar loop here, an Aalap there, and it remained reticent. A tea-time chit-chat with her mother led her to “Fire” by the poet Bharatiyar. Jolted out of a reverie, inspired by a semblance of heritage, the fragmented ideas and loops took form and soon ‘Rowthiram Pazhagu’ was born.

Lyrically, the song speaks of “the charade of conformity” leading to brighter days, and the fire of revolution. Aided by Beyli’s production, the track is a heady 3 minutes, fusing rhythms from trip-hop and the South, with room enough for Beyli’s true love, bass. Driven by world music, Harini’s style is a mixture of Carnatic, RnB and Jazz, disrupting genres with a blend of soundscapes and vocal layers. 

It took a lot of composure to ignore those voices and get to a comfortable place of singing, composing and saying what feels true to me.  I am still working on figuring out how to represent my musicality, one day I shall get there.”

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