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Xylo Aria

From the tender age of five Shweta's interest in music was ignited through constant exposure to classical Indian Carnatic music. Further developed and nurtured by her grandmother, this interest slowly grew into an obsession and expanded to include a number of different musical styles.

Xylo, Where did you grow up?

I moved to Melbourne at the age of 7 from India and have lived here ever since. I don't remember much about life in India but just remember really struggling to adjust to the change from a very collectivist society to an individualistic one. But that was a long time ago. Melbourne and the suburbs I've lived in have really shaped who I am today. I'm proud to call it home.

Your grandmother obviously had a big impact on you, and as mentioned, she helped nurture your interest in the classical Indian Carnatic music. Can you tell us, did your grandmother sing?

Yes, my grandmother sang and still does in fact but it's obviously getting harder for her with age. She has a beautiful voice and a great ear. Sadly for her she grew up in a time where pursuing your musical dreams was not seen as a respectable path to take for a girl. She did have some opportunities but they weren't really encouraged by the people around her. This isn't to say she grew up in an cruel family by any means, it was just the way of thinking within society at that time. I know she's a little bitter about the fact that she couldn't pursue any opportunities that came her way and wishes there was someone then who recognised her talent. I think for this reason she always tells me to keep going with my music and wants for me what she couldn't have. I would love for her to see me make something of my music, it would make her so happy. I'll keep trying!

Can you explain a bit more about the classical Indian Carnatic music, where it stems from?

I don't know a huge deal about it's history to be honest, but it's so different to so many styles of music. For example one note is not always the same. As in, in western music, a C is always the same frequency no matter what song you're singing or what key you are singing. In Carnatic music however that same note would change depending on the "raaga" (which is a bit like a key) you are singing. That was extremely poorly explained...but there are definitely aspects to Carnatic music which make it very unique. I find that extremely intriguing! I can appreciate it's not for everyone, and from a westerner's ear it might not sound the slightest bit pleasing but once you learn to appreciate it, that beauty of it really hits you. It's actually because of the greatest singer in carnatic history (no exaggeration there), M.S. Subhalakshmi that I love it so much. She passed away a few years ago but her music still brings tears to my eyes. She was and always will be a legend of the genre, I wish I could have met her!

Xylo Aria

It has such a worldly feel, have you thought about approaching placement for films?

I haven't yet but maybe it's something I should consider!

Do you write all your music?

I write all the vocal melodies and lyrics and my producer, Elliott Treves, writes the instrumentation. It's either him that makes a short beat first which I then chop up and fit to a song I write or I send him a song and he makes something for it, it's usually the first. I feel we work really well together and we get each other from a musical stance. He's a bit more eccentric than me I guess and I'm often battling with him over the weird sounds he wants to use but at the end of the day it really does add to the music! I don't often admit it to him but he's usually right.

How does this kind of music make you feel?

Chill....and pumped at the same time, somehow.

I believe you have strong viewpoints on the degradation of the environment caused from human activity, and has sparked such a response in your beliefs you are forwarding all proceeds from the song ‘The Hurt’ to Greenpeace Australia. Can you tell us a little more on what you think will transpire if we don’t care for our environment?

We all really need to be thinking about what effect we are having on this planet that we call home. Just tiny little things like thinking about what we can recycle, what can be reused and what we are throwing away can make such a huge difference if we all chip in a little. It is our responsibility as citizens of this planet to look after it. The natural beauty around us that we take for granted everyday just won't exist otherwise which is devastating to even thing about. People that think global warming is not real are just kidding themselves. All you need to do is look around really.

What does your grandmother say about your music?

She loves it surprisingly! I didn't think she would when I first showed her what I was working on but she was really getting into it sitting there in my room with a pair of my Sennheiser HD 280s on, bopping along to the songs. It was the cutest image really. She loves the newest song, Paradigm, the most. It will be out fairly soon, so I dunno, if you have similar taste to my grandma, you might get into it too!

Xylo's Beautiful Grandmother - Getting Into The Groove

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