How South Indian Music Shapes the Tamil Diaspora Experience
Two Guys Talk Music look at how music from the Indian Tamil film industry shape how the Sri Lankan Tamil disapora interpret their own experience.
Two Guys Talk Music Youtube
London, United Kingdom
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What was the soundtrack to your childhood?

If, like me, you are a child of the Tamil diaspora, it is likely to be Tamil “filmi” music that was the ever-present score to your colourful early childhood memories; ranging from lengthy family road trips to the more mundane small moments at home. Sometimes this meant belting your heart out to “Loosu Pennae” cosplaying the emotions of heartache and yearning, whilst at contrasting moments, gently bobbing along to whichever Ilayaraaja song was playing at the function as you pretend not to notice the cameraman-uncle zooming deep (so deep ) into your face. 

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These musical moments were not only shaping how we saw the world but also how we saw ourselves. It was a valuable medium of helping us understand an identity so different from our immediate environment, that was inherited from a world that most of our parents were severed from. The music does not just act as a soundtrack to our memories, but become the memories themselves .Often the basis of our first likes and obsessions, these songs were inexplicably bound to our narratives and became interwoven with our own threads of being. 

Inevitably though time passed and these early childhood threads were woven among yarns of the wider western world. With this, a realisation is found  that the world of music is much bigger than what we have come to know. As we detach from the safetynet of our family and integrate into this foreign home  we come to know some truths, such as realising that actually most of the music our peers listen to do not come from films (honestly this one took me days to wrap my head around). In the spirit of making friends we share our tales of heartbreak and joy through our filmi soundscapes, only to fall on confused ears - nobody really knows what you’re talking about,the experience is not shared -  but you like some of their other songs. You want to feel included, connected to everyone again so you form bonds through this new soundscape of western music; you’ll keep enjoying the Tamil stuff, but just at home or when your parents are in the car, keep it in a separate playlist and put it on when you're alone (and only when alone) for when you need to reminisce or feel comforted. 

By my mid 20’s I was pretty obsessed with music. I’d take part in forums that would discuss the best hip hop album of the year or trawl the internet looking for new finds.  Ranking discographies and deconstructing albums despite some of them being in languages I did not even speak! This broadening of horizons also led me to see Tamil music differently, not just as fuzzy parts of my own personal narrative, but as a rich collection of albums that deserved deeper exploration.

In this journey, I was lucky to find another kindred spirit who not only listened to my constant ramblings, but also had his own fair share of beautiful nonsense to contribute. Eventually Two Guys Talk Music was born and gave us a platform for us to channel all of this into something more structured and somewhat coherent. There is no “objective” nor “correct” opinion. Our own bias is something we welcome and explore -  everything we discuss might not be Tamil music, but by virtue of being Tamil,  everything we discuss is informed in part by our identity and background. So whether it be new releases, or our favourite albums of the year, there is always something new to look forward to!

Looking forward is fun don’t get me wrong, but it requires an understanding of the past. We are informed by the experiences that shaped who we are .To examine our nostalgia with the same analytical awareness has been revealing challenging initial perceptions, that the Tamil music of our childhood was “separate” to what Western listeners would consume. A Tamil album review has dimensions that we previously may not have explored, for example; how has the  cross pollination with Western genres shaped the legacy of Tamil music?  How does a film shape how we see the accompanying soundtrack?  How has the content of the music of the time aged with today's doctrines and knowledge? 

We take it upon ourselves to understand that music is not only part of our own personal narratives, but also a greater tapestry that stretches to the distant past, and of course the future. If this sounds like something you are interested in, please give our videos a look! We hope to see you there!

@TwoGuysTalkMusic, Asuvathan & Umesh

What is my Identity? It's a question that we all seek to answer in our own ways throughout our lives. Each episode of Identity spotlights a different creative, some from the Tamil community and some from outside it, who will be chatting about how we take ownership of our narratives, art, politics and of course who we are. We hope to inspire you through their unique stories of seeking and finding Identity. Catch Season 1 below!

Two Guys Talk Music Youtube
London,  United Kingdom
We love music and we love talking about music. Whether it be old Tamil albums from our ...
We love music and we love talking about music. Whether it be old Tamil albums from our ...
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