Aditya Rao is an Indian-American singer-songwriter who was classically trained in Carnatic vocals since his childhood. Currently based in Austin, Texas, our attention is on the musician thanks to his musical contribution as the lead vocalist and vocal arranger in actor R Madhavan’s biopic film Rocketry: The Nambi Effect (2022).
Having acquired a master's degree in Entertainment Industry Management from Carnegie Mellon University, Aditya has sung for Indian and Hollywood film soundtracks—Pelé: Birth of a Legend (2016) and Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada (2016) with AR Rahman, and has recently released his indie single SND. We catch up with him for a quick chat.
Tell us about working with the team at Rocketry.
From what started as a totally unexpected introduction to Madhavan—to becoming a vocal arranger—singing a total of nine songs across five Indian languages (Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam)—to organising lyricists for the songs in four different languages—to becoming a part of the Rocketry family—it has been an incredible life experience.
How was it working with actor Madhavan?
I first met Madhavan nearly five years ago over a bowl of ramen noodles at a restaurant in Los Angeles, thanks to my wife responding to a story that Madhavan had posted on Instagram, where he was asking for vegetarian food recommendations in town!
How challenging was your work in the film?
Initially, the film was never intended to have songs—all Madhavan told me was that he wanted to work together in some capacity. But there was a moment when Maddy co-developed two songs in English with musicians from Nashville, Tennessee, US, for the English version of Rocketry. That is when he called me to see if we could use the English instrumental to develop the Tamil songs. From then on, we spent two years working on the Tamil songs, closely interfacing with Nambi Narayanan who penned the Tamil lyrics himself!
Although, that may seem like a long time, it is a different story when the person who went through the successes, pain and angst has written the lyrics first-hand, and I have been given the honour to try and do justice to his words. Fast forward to the latter half of 2020, I became the singer, vocal arranger and lyric coordinator for the same two songs in the other Indian languages—Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada (Nambi decided to pen the lyrics in Malayalam as well!) All the songs were recorded in my home studios in Los Angeles, California as well as Austin, Texas.
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