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Student taps into her nightmares for inspiration for her music

BY ALYSSA WHEELER -November 6, 2019 10:32 pm


Twisted dreams often inspire Subi Umakanth’s somber music.

These dreams led Umakanth to Los Angeles, where she said she has made an effort to hone her songwriting process by focusing on herself as an individual artist. The fourth-year neuroscience student and indie singer-songwriter first trained in contemporary music at the Institute of Music Technology in her hometown of Chennai, India. Since then, she has embraced her lifelong love of songwriting to tell stories from fictionalized perspectives based on her dreams, she said.

“It’s using characters to explore the universality of the human condition and human emotion,” Umakanth said. “At the end of the day, I want to evoke something totally visceral.”

Despite her happy persona, Umakanth said her emotionally charged lyrics are more somber and morbid. She credits this to the dark, demented dreams that often serve as a jumping-off point when she starts writing a new song. Using the disturbed characters of her subconscious, Umakanth said she starts writing by taking time to put herself into the mind of the dream’s character. The thoughts and feelings of these dream-basedcharacters serve as Umakanth’s lyrical basis.

One such whimsically somber song is her upcoming single, “Tim,” she said. Taking place in a natural forest environment, the track follows the death of a wise seven-year-old boy named Tim, and is told from the perspective of a young woman mourning this loss.

“Wisdom isn’t something that you usually associate with a young person, but that’s the point of ‘Tim,’” Umakanth said. “You can learn a lot from different perspectives.”

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