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Bombay Jayashri is one of the leading Carnatic musicians in the country. She is born into a family of musicians with a rich lineage in classical music. She represents the fourth generation of music practitioners in her family. Apart from her contribution to the world of Carnatic music, she has collaborated with artists around the world including Egyptian musician Hisham Abba, Senegalese musician Thione Seck and Finnish composer - Eero Hammeeniemi. Her collaboration with Sir Ang Lee (for the movie - Life of Pi) got her a nomination for The Academy Award.

In the conversation she spoke about how the role of an inspiring guru, her approach to growing as a musician and training for performances. She also sheds light on some of the elements behind team work that play out in a concert when artists from different contexts come on stage. She talks about her experience with Sir Ang Lee and his orientation towards excellence when she recorded the title track for The Life of Pi.

Published in September 2018.

Committing to a career in Music

Jayashri talks about her chance meeting with Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman and how that changed everything for her. She discusses the faith that he had in her when he asked her to learn music under his guidance and how that instilled a sense of responsibility for her to stay committed to the path.

Characteristics of great coaches

Jayashri discusses her observations of Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman and how he would unlock the potential of each of his students by tailoring his approach and finding a different set of tools for each individual. She also talks about how he would role-model standards of excellence in his practice of the art form

Deliberate practice

Jayashri discusses how she splits time during practice. This includes building stamina and preparing your mind to think faster when you perform with other musicians. She also talks about practicing new songs for at least a period of 3-4 months before the music begins to “flow” out of her.

Team work in a concert

Jayashri talks about what it takes to perform with other artists on stage and discusses the notion of emptying oneself and a levelling attitude with oneself for the music to take over. She talks about creating a space inside her from which the music could flow freely.

Making Directional Choices

Jayashri talks about how she made choices along the way, more specifically, the choice between going deep into Carnatic music versus collaborating with different art forms. She also speaks about how she has learnt from collaborating with other artists and how that has improved her core art form – Carnatic Music

Music and Technology

Jayashri talks about overdependence on technology and how that is coming in the way of learning where the student puts off the learning to technology. She talks about how she tries to benefit from the technology while knowing that she could do what she does even without it.

Sir Ang Lee and Excellence

Jayashri talks about her collaboration with Sir Ang Lee where when she collaborated with him to sing for the movie – Life of Pi. The song was eventually nominated for the Oscars for the Best Original Song (first Tamil song to be nominated). She talks about how Sir Ang Lee brought out the best in her during the five days that she spent recording the 5 odd lines of the song.

Balancing work and life

Jayashri talks about the challenges of being a performer who has to travel around the world and how she is often split between the two worlds. She talks about the criticality of the ecosystem around her including her family that has provided her the support.

In summary - Playing to Potential

Jayashri talks about her approach to giving back to the community through the various things she does, whether it is helping children who have autism or performing for seniors at locations where they live. She also talks about her work through SPIC MACAY in using art to improve lives.

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