Arushi Jain

Burning Ambulance Podcast

13-03-2024 • 58 mins

I first learned about Arushi Jain three years ago, when most people who are aware of her work did. Her 2021 album Under The Lilac Sky was extremely beautiful, six tracks of droning, pulsing synth music with her vocals kind of floating in the middle like she was singing from the middle of an isolation tank. It was entirely created with a modular synth rig that she constructed and programmed, but the compositions were based on ragas from the Indian classical tradition, including the fact that the album was meant to be heard at a specific time of day, while the sun was setting.

Under The Lilac Sky was described as her first full-length album, but she had also put out a four-song EP, Just A Feeling, in 2018, documenting the earliest stages of developing her sound, and another four-track release, With & Without, in 2019, where each track was inspired by a specific raga, although with that one, she says on the album’s Bandcamp page, “I didn’t always follow the rules of the ragas, I’m sure those who know this art can hear that, and maybe purists won’t approve.”

There’s also a companion release, With & Without (Golem Version), which features two remixes of tracks from the original album for some kind of virtual reality dance piece, and then a 46-minute soundtrack to the piece.

Her music is still evolving. At the end of March, she’s putting out a new album, Delight, on which she’s not working just with the modular synth. She’s also gotten people to play flute, saxophone, classical guitar, cello and marimba and sampled those parts and incorporated them into the tracks, which are also much more conventionally song-like than her previous work. And the vocals and lyrics are much more up front as well. Delight isn’t a pop album, but it’s absolutely more directly communicative than her previous work.

We had a really interesting conversation. We talked about her background singing Indian classical music with her family, how she came to electronic music when she arrived in America to go to college, how modular synths actually work, which I’m still not 100 percent sure I understand, how her live performances have evolved, and even a little bit about her visual presentation and how the music she makes relates to her Indian identity – or doesn’t. So on that note, here’s my conversation with Arushi Jain.