The Women’s Web ‘Love Your Leisure’ series will consist of interviews with a few female bloggers with fascinating hobbies, who’ve enthusiastically developed and fine-tuned them – and what’s more, write about them for the benefit of the rest of us! We hope you enjoy reading more about these bloggers and their passions. Presented in a Q&A format, this one is with Music Enthusiast, Meera Manohar who has a lovely audio blog, Swarasthaanam.
Intro: Tell us a little about yourself
I am a graduate in Dietetics and Nutrition, and did my post graduation in Human Development from the University of Bangalore. I currently work in a Not-for-Profit Organisation (NPO) which deals with domestic violence issues. I love music in any form, and enjoy listening to professionals and amateurs alike. My other passions include running, photography and traveling. I currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area, with my husband Manohar, and my 4 year old son, Ayush.
I started singing at the age of 4 or so, and was always surrounded by music in some form, especially so in my formative years. My parents & brother were avid music enthusiasts and listening to the radio was an integral part of my life. I was initiated into South Indian classical music when I was 9-10 years of age, and that definitely kept my interest and gave me a much-needed foundation to pursue my passion. I started performing with a local band named Thillana way back in 2000, and I also freelance with other bands around the US. Today my passion for music still hold true, and has probably increased several fold given my exposure to it, in a country far away from home. Thanks to that exposure, my ability to enjoy different kinds of music has widened. Audioblogging on the other hand has given me the opportunity to interact with different kinds of musicians these last several years.
Q2.What does music signify to you? What do you find most satisfying about music?
Music signifies life and passion for me. I see it more as an extension of my soul than a hobby more often than not. The truth is, music has given me an outlet to every kind of emotion, doesn’t matter what, how or where. It’s interesting to step back, and look at how much music I actually do listen to every single day, and realize that I don’t even have to sing per se, but the sheer pleasure of listening to some form of it completes me in more ways than one.
I will split that last question into 2 parts. The most rewarding thing for any musician is when someone appreciates a good end product, and you know it’s worth all the effort that went in making that happen. And as a listener, the most rewarding thing for me is when I detach myself from my surroundings when I start listening to anything. Guess it’s absolutely a sublime feeling and a totally ethereal world that one has to experience. I would recommend it, very additive.
Q3.Who are your favourite singers/musicians?
Although I grew up listening to RDB, MSV, Ilayaraaja and the likes, I love listening to ARR, Harris Jeyaraj, Vidyasagar, G.V.Prakash in the current crop of musicians. I have learnt to appreciate the style of various music directors, and am very open to experimentation as well. Same goes for singers — I am in love with yesteryear’s stalwarts such as M K Thyagaraja Bhagavathar or Leela, to the modern day Karthik or Mahathi. I believe most talented singers have their strong points, and most, if not all voices have invariably had something to teach me.
Q4.What does Swarasthaanam mean? How has your blog helped you in your passion towards music & singing?
The literal meaning of Swarasthaanam – swaram (note) + sthaanam (placement in say, a scale). I loved the sound of it when I was looking to name my audioblog way back in 2005, the year I started it. It was this venture of mine that introduced me to the world of audioblogging, and a bunch of talented artists around the world. Of course, over the years, I have migrated into other music portals such as Muziboo, Facebook, Reverbnation and Soundcloud.
Q5.What are your aspirations for your music/singing? What do you envision to do with it?
I aspire to bring a lot of satisfaction to my listeners. Personally, I believe strongly that there’s always scope for improvement, and am open to constructive criticism as well. I hope to be in the playback industry someday soon. I had a chance to interact with Shankar Mahadevan on a local radio program, and his feedback more importantly, was quite a huge motivation and boost to me. I am hoping all this audio blogging and live stage experience would help me gain a foothold there.
Q6.Which are some favourite blog posts of yours in Swarasthaanam? Also what other related blogs/ sites do you enjoy or find useful?
Some of my most satisfying renditions to date are Kaatrin Mozhi, Iktaara, Parayaan Maranna, Ninaithu Ninaithu, Kaatril Varum Geethame to name a few. I do have a bunch of people whose music I regularly listen to on Muziboo or Soundcloud. Most of them are upcoming composers, singers or instrumentalists.
Q7.How do you polish your music skills and to stay updated with the current trends?
It’s really interesting to note that the only reason I started a website, way back in 2000 was to keep in touch, and then I started to audioblog a couple of years after that, and that initiative was also just to keep in touch with something that I loved doing. Now, when I look back at my journey, from it having been a casual hobby to something more serious, where constant feedback, criticisms, and pats on the back have helped me hone my ability to explore tougher and more interesting areas with regards to singing. I don’t do anything special to keep up with it, guess the songs I pick make sure I work hard, and each song has been a learning experience. I always walk away at the end of any finished song having learnt a thing or two, which has helped me with something else.
Previous Interviews With Hobby Bloggers:
Art & Craft Enthusiast: Shruti Bhat
Movie Enthusiast: Amodini Sharma
Crossword Enthusiast: Shuchismita Upadhyay
Poetry Enthusiast: Saru Singhal
Baking Enthusiast: Monika Manchanda
Gardening Enthusiast: Priyanka Goel
Wildlife Enthusiast: Radha Rangarajan
Needlecraft Enthusiast: Nima Titus