Gingger Shankar carries in her name the legacy of two great musicians who were instrumental in introducing Indian music to the world — she’s the eldest daughter of violinist Dr L. Subramaniam and her grandmum was the sister-in-law of noted sitarist Pt Ravi Shankar. But the upcoming singer, musician and composer, who has already made a mark in global music circles has much more to her than just a name and illustrious family.
Gingger, who has predominantly been composing music scores for films so far, has titles such as Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ to her name. But the singer, who is one of the very few people in the world who plays the double violin, is all set to make her foray into mainstream music with an upcoming collaborative project with pop superstar Katy Perry, and is also set to launch her own album later this year. With a lot of interesting developments in her career in recent years, Gingger opens up about her life and work.
Telling us about her childhood and growing up amidst greats in global music, Gingger says, “I was raised in a family of musicians. I grew up with music around me; it was part of my every day life. I was learning music and dance from the time I was young and was always going to concerts. Now, looking back, I realise how lucky I was. Running around the studio as a kid. Playing in the halls during sound checks, always being around music, practicing, shows and musicians — It definitely shaped who I am as an artiste. I was born in Los Angeles, but was taken to India shortly after. I feel like I grew up there in some ways because of the amount of time I spent there as a child. I also went to Kalakshetra in India at five.”
But Gingger’s first break in music came when she got the chance to score music for Passion of the Christ. Talking about the experience of working with Mel Gibson, Gingger says, “I got into films by accident through Passion of the Christ, which was my entrance into composing film music. I loved working on the film. Having the opportunity to have that much artistic freedom and being inspired by scenes and creating with them, was a brand new learning experience. I really enjoyed working with a director like Mel Gibson who was so passionate about his work. It is definitely inspiring to work with someone who is so dedicated to his or her art and vision.”
She further adds, “After Passion of the Christ, I was accepted into the Sundance Film Composer’s programme. That opened up so many doors. I have worked on mainstream and Indie films since then. I definitely found my voice in films, and enjoy it. I feel that I love the touring and recording side of being an artiste, but films definitely give me the opportunity to compose all styles of music.”
And with her collaboration with Katy Perry soon to be released, Gingger is certainly not restricting herself to just film scores. About the project with Katy, she says, “It is for the new single Legendary Lovers. I have been a fan of Katy and Dr Luke for a long time. Having a chance to work with them was really amazing. I did all the strings for the song, and I can’t wait for it to release! That is all I can say now.”
“But that is not all,” says Gingger, who later this year will also be launching her own album. The album is titled Beautiful Imperfections and releases this spring, followed by a tour. The theme is definitely about strong women. It is a very pop/electronic album. I am excited to tour with it and the new band. I hope to bring it to India,” adds Gingger. Also in the line says, Gingger, is another collaborative project for which she was recently in India. “Besides the record, I am working on a project about my mother, Viji Shankar, and my grandmother, Lakshmi Shankar.
My collaborators are Dave Liang (producer of the electronic group The Shanghai Restoration Project) and Yunfan Sun. The title of the project is Nari — it is the unsung story of the lives of Lakshmi and Viji Shankar, extraordinary artistes who helped bring Indian music to the West in the 70s through their collaborations with Pt Ravi Shankar and George Harrison.”
Although based out of LA, Gingger has her roots in India. Whether she has any plans of bringing her performances to India, Gingger says, “I have been in Mumbai quite a few times in the past year. I would love to play there. I would also love to work with the amazing directors and musicians out there. So many of my earliest fondest memories are in India. I went to school and grew up there; I’ve performed there. I would definitely love to be there more.”