Drummer and music journalist based out of Washington, D.C., Sriram Gopal’s main “beat” as a writer is covering jazz for DCist.com. Gopal recently released his first album as a bandleader. The recording is called The Fourth Stream and the album features a number of the D.C. area’s top musicians.
I had a chance to speak with him and learn more about his career. Here’s what he had to say:
- Why did you choose to be in the music industry?
Well, to be clear, I’m not really “in the industry” in that I’m a self-financed, independent musician. I have a day job. That said, I picked up my first instrument nearly 35 years ago, have been playing drums for over 25 years, and played my first gig over 20 years ago. Music has always played a key role in my life and I couldn’t imagine walking through the world without some sort of creative outlet and connections with artistic people. So, I don’t really feel as though I chose music, it’s been a part of my life for almost as long as I can remember.
- Who/what inspired you to get into this industry?
I started playing the drums when I was 13, and my biggest influences were rock bands that were popular in the ’80s and ’90s, so groups like The Police, Rush, and the whole Seattle sound in the early ’90s. I also got really into jazz in my late teens and into college, where I played in big bands and small combos. My Indian heritage also played an important role. My parents often had Carnatic music playing around the house when I was growing up and in the mid-2000s I started getting into the South Asian electronica scene.
- Tell us about your new album?
The Fourth Stream is my first album as a bandleader. Originally, I conceived of it as a love letter to Washington, D.C., where I’ve lived for the past 10 years. That concept went by the wayside, although I did retain a couple of the tunes I chose at that time. It became a more personal recording in that the material on the album reflects my tastes and experiences as a musician. I chose each of the songs to show a different aspect of myself, but in such a way that it would still work as a single piece.
The Fourth Stream is available for download and streaming on all the major outlets, Apple Music/iTunes, Google Play, Bandcamp, etc. Anyone who would like a physical copy may order it on CD Baby.
- What are your goals for this year?
My main goal is to get as many people to listen to the album as possible and start using it as a means to get higher profile gigs, so festival dates and the like. This is an album of mainly instrumental, improvisational music, so I don’t have any delusions of it being a great commercial success, but I hope that it will help me get my name out beyond the D.C. area.
- Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I will still be playing. Like I said, hopefully I’ll be performing in some higher profile situations, but really I’ll just keep hustling as I always have.
- What would you say is your greatest accomplishment so far?
Musically, I would say that it’s this album. I’m really proud of it and I believe that anyone who spends an hour with this music will have a worthwhile experience.