Indian Indie may not be a genre that currently dominates your listening experience, but Hyderabad raised, London based Redd Alluri is about to change all that with his debut release ‘Man of Truth’. A diarist to his core, Alluri’s songs wrote themselves during a six month travel break between completing his Master’s degree in Finland and returning home to India. Contemplating a return to the setting that shaped him, travelling allowed him to assess how he had changed, provoking the realisation that in London he had been something of an outsider in cultural terms, while simultaneously feeling fully at home in aspects of British life.
“English has overtaken my life in every way”, explains Redd. Now based full-time in London and focussed on his music career, he admits that as a child he would have never foreseen this path. Having been introduced to classical music by his father at a young age, he studied piano and violin for a brief period, but did feel a connection with either instrument. Surrounded by Tollywood, a Telugu take on Bollywood, he found enjoyment in the form, but was not musically motivated by it. Shortly afterwards he experimented with MTV, but he found he couldn’t connect with Savage Garden or the Backstreet Boys.
Then his cousin returned from university armed with a supply of music he had never encountered. Suddenly he found a connection that he hadn’t anticipated. Introduced by his cousin to the world of Guns ‘n Roses and Pink Floyd, which led to him asking his father for a guitar. Captivated by his the instrument, he spent the next decade immersing himself in learning three new songs a week. Rather than finding music on radio or television, he scoured the web one artist at a time and soon fell in love with The Smiths, Joy Division, David Bowie and Lou Reed.
Upon relocation to Staffordshire to study his Bachelor’s degree, his natural gravitation towards British Indie was heightened with the discovery of Radiohead. But it was finding Ricky Gervais’ show on XFm that prompted him to really explore the genre at greater depth. Although at the time he simply sang covers of his favourite songs, it was when looking at the lyrics of the songs more closely while in Finland that he realised he too could write songs. Although poetic in from, the lyrics related to everyday life.
His own experiences had remoulded his mindset and he found himself torn between his upbringing and his European experiences. A Brit by immersion but an Indian by tradition, he realised on his travels that he had spent much of his time in the UK looking in from the outside and never fully understanding his experiences.
While the collection of songs that form ‘Man of Truth’ are personal in nature, they also relate his cultural findings. Though title track explores how he has experienced relationships, the initial stage of compromise and the closing moments of explosive fall-out through a need to simply be himself, it simultaneously explains the cultural difference between relationships in the UK and in India. While he was brought up to understand a relationship was for life and compromise was the name of the game, he learnt in the UK that identity and individuality are equally essential. Striking a balance between the two is a struggle.
‘I See People’ may appear to have been written about India, but is in fact an observation of London life at night. ‘Business of Love’, which has a Bowie feel, returns to the personal, exploring the romanticised notion of love that is depicted in films. A cynical deconstruction of that picture perfect vision, Redd attempts to understand his feelings in the aftermath of a break-up. ‘Who Are We?’ sees The Smiths and Pink Floyd coming to the fore on the release’s most existential song. Posing questions that can’t be answered, it is clear Redd is not simply trying to understand his own world, but the bigger picture in general.
Although sonically inspired by Britain, the writing and recording of ‘Man of Truth’ reiterated to Redd something he had always known. While he may feel at home in Britain, he has been conditioned in a culture that is always going to be an overriding force in his identity. ‘Man Of Truth’ may have been born from a cultural clash, but Redd finds the harmony in the divide.