Ramprasad Sundar’s name might not strike a chord with most Indians, but he’s a talent to reckon with in the independent and film music scene in Hollywood. The 28-year-old from Chennai, who currently resides in Los Angeles, is a singer, composer, sound supervisor, music technologist, Front of House (FOH) engineer, tutor, etc., all rolled into one. He provides state of the art services in composing, arranging, programming, recording, mixing, mastering, post-production sound, surround mix and masters for film and TV.
Born into a family of musicians (his grandmother was a composer; his aunts, acclaimed musicians with All India Radio; his mother, a gold medallist in Carnatic music), Ram was exposed to music at a very young age. “I grew up with music around me; it was part of my everyday life,” he says. “I started off with vocal classical training at the age of three and continued till 15 after which, owing to the phase when my voice was settling, I shifted to learn the mridangam. My lineage has been a big factor in my interest in music and, perhaps, in the choice of career too.”
During his college years, Ram became a regular fixture at festivals as part of college music bands singing and composing. These musical escapades intrigued him to explore signals and systems relating to audio and sound, which took him to the Institute of Audio Research (IAR) in New York, where he earned an honours degree in Sound Engineering and Audio Production.
Ram says, “I find sound design extremely fascinating and this learning gave me an impetus to dive deeper into the field. During this time, there were opportunities aplenty to collaborate with wonderful artistes and companies.” To gain more grounding in the art, he moved to California in 2010, to study Video Symphony.
His insatiable longing to create sound and music that stood apart landed him opportunities to work with some of the best musicians around the world including Gingger Shankar, Mali Elfman, Anisa Qureshi, Bradford Young, Shankar Mahadevan, Ilaiyaraaja, Mandolin U. Srinivas, Santosh Sivan, Kunal Rajan (for the Hollywood project Contracted), Wayne Sharpe (Raajneeti) and scores for the Hollywood shorts He Loves Me Not and Saturday Post. The proverbial feather in his cap was becoming the FOH engineer for music maestro Ilaiyaaraja’s How to Name It. This year, Ram has also signed a 31-film deal as a post sound supervisor with Mali Elfman.
However, his collaboration with Gingger Shankar remains incredibly special and Ram tells us why: “Gingger is way ahead of our times and her talent is so inspiring. It’s amazing to see someone from your homeland achieve so much, and the most admirable thing is how unbelievably humble she is about it.”