It’s hard to truly gauge the personality of a member of any band without meeting them. On a site like this, that interaction and vibe creates an environment susceptible to storytelling. Once in a while, though, I can’t help but ask for an emailed interview with an artist. This band is special. Sundara Karma and more specifically lead singer Oscar Lulu, don’t give a fuck about being anything but themselves. There aren’t any false pretenses or inauthentic elements to the music they’re creating or the image they’ve come to be known for. Ironically, in 2015 it can seem pretentious for a young band to say they write songs based on philosophical allegories and classic literature, but that’s not really fair is it? It’s compelling and riveting that a group of intelligent, well-spoken 20 year olds from Reading can stand up and say exactly what they’d like and be unflinching, creative and unapologetic about it. Why is that so surprising? In a time when social media and the internet can help people mold perception and shape thoughts, these boys act as an organic catalyst to both.
Enjoy the interview – but more importantly, take the time to discover more music from Sundara Karma.
You guys have relentlessly toured with tunes like ‘Indigo Puff’ and ‘Flame’ – could you describe being on stage at a mental gig in 3 words?
Monkey Saturated Wonder
I read that Sundara Karma means ‘beautiful karma’. Our site name comes from Thich Naht Hahn’s ‘no mud no lotus’ saying, alluding to the culmination of graft, craft and shitty circumstances coming together to make something beautiful, like a song. Just a nice thought, really. Is the band name more “a lovely idea” than an influence on the music?
It’s so much more than just “a lovely idea”, it bleeds through into our everyday life at all times. It’s our ethos and fundamental message.
You’re headlining the Lotus Play Beats Festival (humor me)– who are 5 other bands you’d want in the lineup with you?
If you had to listen to five songs for the rest of your days, what would they be?
This kind of thing is always hard to answer because it’s very much a day to day thing. Today I guess it would be:
Good Vibrations – Beach Boys
All Night Long – Lionel Richie
September – Earth Wind & Fire
Build Me Up Buttercup – The Foundations
You Make My Dreams – Hall & Oates
Was there a show growing up that made you think “this is unfucking real, I have to do this”?
I remember when we were 13 we went to Reading Festival and caught The Vaccines and Bombay Bicycle Club. Throughout both of those performances I thought, “Fuck me, I WANT TO DO THIS”.
I really dig ‘Flame’ and read that it’s essentially a reference to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Was that a tough one to write and weave the right meaning into?
No not at all, I don’t think I would have stuck with it if it was proving to be difficult. These kind of things should be easy and effortless, if it’s not then it’s not gunna feel forced and the end result will suffer – or perhaps make you suffer. I have wanted to write a song about this allegory ever since I first heard it. It’s such an old story, but still so relevant.
A lot of artists talk about the indie “sell out” which I think is a super subjective term (and not necessarily always true)– are you quite adamant not to ‘sell out’ to a more mainstream market?
I don’t really care about this sort of stuff, I just want to be happy and caring about trivia like “selling out” is a complete blockade.
As long as you have integrity and are following your heart as an artist, everything you do should be a passion project.
How much does image play a role in what you’re doing? Interaction on social media and how you treat fans is so pivotal today – you’re quite good at acknowledging fans, which is lovely. Do you like that approachable perception?
It is socially expected of an artist now to be as accessible and approachable as they possible can due to the technological advancements in our day and age. There is no longer mystery, instead personal connection. I think this is a beautiful thing. I am very much for breaking down the facade of fame and idealising of celebrities.
The closer a fan can feel to something the more they start to realise they are exactly the same – this is important.
Sophie F. – You’ve said that you’ve enjoyed writing about consciousness and spiritual things as well as sex and angst – would you ever write a tune about Freud?
Absolutely, I actually need to read more of Freud’s work. His psychoanalytic theory on the id, ego and superego really interest me though…could defs be a song there!
Gianni H. – What would be your major at university if you went that route?
I would’ve quite liked to have been a counsellor or English/art teacher of some sort so something related to those career options.
Anna O. – On a perfect Fall Sunday in London, what would you be doing?
Writing music. Writing and spending time with my friends is basically all I do. That and breathing, eating etc…
Ryan L. – When are you coming to BOSTON?!
As soon as our label chucks enough money at us to get us over there!