Over the course of just a couple of independently released tracks, Tamil-Swiss musician Priya Ragu has mobilised a dedicated and highly engaged following, earning attention from Rolling Stone India, VH1 India, Radio 1 and 1XTRA to name but a few. While she could be described, widely-speaking, as R&B, Priya’s music isn’t like any R&B you’ve heard before. It’s both vaguely familiar yet completely unrecognisable. Imagine Kehlani, Summer Walker or Snoh Aalegra suffused with traditional South Indian instrumentation and the cinematic flair of legendary Kollywood soundtrack composers such as A.R. Rahman, Ilaiyaraaja and Deva.
After signing a deal with Warner Records during lockdown, Priya Ragu is now set to make a bigger global impact as she releases her label debut single ‘Good Love 2.0’.
‘Good Love 2.0’ is a gorgeously optimistic song which also reflects Priya’s varied influences. A sublime, uplifting groove, the track is elevated by her gloriously warm and melodious vocals. As with all of her material, ‘Good Love 2.0’ was written by Priya and her brother, Japhna Gold (who also produces the music).
The vibrant, intimate video for ‘Good Love 2.0’, which was shot in Goa in early 2020 was cast by Priya herself after combing through Instagram and finding a director in Mumbai, a stylist and a lead role also in Delhi.
Priya’s music focuses on spirituality and possibility, yearning and heartbreak, and ‘Good Love 2.0’ is no exception. It projects her idea of an idealistic first love, one that she says is, “Beyond religion, beyond cast, beyond colour. It’s the feeling nothing can tear you apart because it’s so strong.”
Priya was born and raised in Switzerland after her parents escaped from the Sri Lankan civil war in the early 80s. Music was always a big part of her family life growing up, and she soon discovered that she could sing. Despite early musical ambitions, she struggled to relate to anyone she admired in music. She couldn’t sing as high as the playback singers in the Kollywood films and no-one in the Western pop charts looked like her. The Fugees proved to be the turning point as her influences quickly broadened.
Although now incredibly proud and supportive, her parents were initially strict. They didn’t want her to listen to Western pop and were keen for her to get married as she reached adulthood. Eventually something snapped, she quit her job as she wanted to put everything into music and decided to move to America for 6 months. Needing somewhere to stay, her friend, the rapper Oddisee offered Priya his Brooklyn studio. Sending song ideas back and forth to Japhna, the pair created a number of tracks whilst she was there and the work continued when she returned to Zurich, where Priya currently resides. Her connection with Oddisee continues today, most recently when Priya featured on ‘Still Strange’, a track from his album ‘Odd Cure’.