Singer-songwriter and composer Bjorn Surrao’s inspiration lies in the things around him, as well as in languages.
It was back when Bjorn Surrao was struggling with a rather rough patch in life. The singer-songwriter sat down with his guitar in a nearly empty room one night, facing a large mirror. He wrote a song called Walls.
Look at the walls surrounding me, stuck in a box of monotony until I noticed you.
Mirror mirror on the wall, find me the answers that I came for, could you show me a sign.
Ask the Chennai-based Bjorn about the background of the seemingly simple song, and he’ll tell you that it talks about his perspective on life’s journey, and how we, as a society, need to keep trying new things and never looking back.
Understandably then, Walls is the first track on Bjorn’s new five-track album Stories from a Bottle, and it sets the tone for the rest to follow. The second track, Crystal Skies, is lyrically narrated by a little voice in his mind that experiences a sense of jou from a surreal place in the heavens.
“And Stellar (a bilingual track) talks about the beauty and passion that we, as individuals, seek and find in people, activity, and nature,” he explains, adding that each song belongs to a different genre, and even a different language some times. The album has English, Tamil and Malayalam lyrics. “My song writing and composing style just happens to be like this,” Bjorn smiles. “I enjoy making music in various genres, and mixing them up.”
In fact, Bjorn also got Shakthisree Gopalan and Suchith Suresan, two other singers, on board for a song each. Suchith sings the Malayalam parts in Stellar, while Bjorn croons the English ones. Kadhal Neeye, a Tamil duet, is rendered by both Shakthisree and Suchith. “Both the songs are musical collaborations to create something unique and everlasting,” is how Bjorn describes the teamwork, even while he has composed and arranged instruments for all his sings, as well as produced them.
While performing live, a team of musicians join in the effort with him, as the group becomes Bjorn & The Bronx.
Talking about his origins, Bjorn explains that he’s a self-taught musician, who began to learn the piano when he was 11 and the guitar at the age of 12. Song writing too came quickly to him, with Bjorn penning lyrics and performing at the age of 14. The multi-instrumentalist was part of two college bands called Franks Got the Funk and Circuit.
“Though I graduated in commerce from Loyola College, I spent all my time writing, learning and performing music. After completing my undergraduate studies, I spent a year-and-a-half in Dubai, studying music production and the art of being a DJ,” he reminisces.
Once he was done with his course, Bjorn returned to India to pursue a career in music, while simultaneously finishing an MBA. “I worked on various short films and documentary scores through the years. My first Tamil feature film as a composer was Naalu Peruku Nallandhuna Edhuvam Thappilla. Post this, I put in all my efforts and focus on bringing this album out,” he says.
Bjorn’s next is a bilingual in English and Hindi, in collaboration with Benny Dayal, who will be singing on it. A crowd funded music video is set to compliment the upbeat song.