It is quite common to see engineers switching their career path — a move triggered by the urge to pursue their passion. However, when LA-based music composer Ramprasad Sundar got an opportunity to combine his love for music and his qualification as an engineer, he knew it couldn’t have been better.
Ramprasad, who made his Kollywood debut with Thoppi, holds a double degree in sound and music from universities in NYC and LA.
Working with legends from across the world like AR Rahman, Santosh Sivan and Wayne Sharp for the last few years, he has been navigating effortlessly between the avenues music has opened for him — both artistically and technologically.
Ask him to name a few projects back in the US, he draws a deep breath and says with a laugh, “Lot of stuff happening there for me. Meeting the very talented musician Gingger Shankar, who runs the Little Girl and The Robot Company, has been the best thing that has happened to me. We write scores for Hollywood trailers and score music for Facebook and Instagram.” Ramprasad’s latest project is with a team at Output, for the virtual instrument called Signal. As a huge resource of rhythmic sequences and evolving sounds, the instrument offers an expansive library of sounds — organic and synthesised — for aspiring electronic music producers, film composers and sound designers.
Hands full with projects in the US, Ramprasad takes out time for his visits to Chennai, where his tryst with music began as a three-year-old.Trained by his mother, a carnatic music teacher, Ramprasad later learnt the mridangam. Part of his school band and college music bands, Ramprasad also wrote songs which were picked up by music sites, during his college days.
His music rendezvous was ordained to continue, even after Ramprasad got into the coveted New York University for a Masters in Telecommunication. “I had gone back to India in the middle of the course after my dad suffered a heart attack, to support my family and help in his business. After a few months, when my father asked me what I wanted to do, I immediately said music. Getting his approval at that time mattered the most to me,” he says.
Taking a break and heading home, after working in some of the best studios in the US, where he worked on the sound design for Enthiran and Puli along with A R Rahman, he decided to stay back after his father’s demise in 2011. Eventually, it was another degree in sound and music that took him back to the US. With influences like Rahman, Ilaiyaraja and a host of Western legends, Ramprasad holds the project with his music idol very close to his heart. “The biggest influence on my music has been Rahman sir, he is right there at the top for me. There are many others like Ilaiyaraaja sir, KS Mahadevan, MS Viswanathan and Ramin Djawadi, and classical legends like Bach and Mozart,” he says.
Juggling the day-night transition between the two countries, Ramprasad is keen on working in Kollywood. “Currently, I am working with Mali Elfman for 31 films, taking care of sound design, music post production and editing, composing and supervision. I hope to do a few more projects here soon. Thoppi was a great experience. The tunes were folkish, a new genre for me,” he signs off.