Interview: Swiss-Tamil Artist Priya Ragu Is Here to Inspire More South Asian Artists

  • Navi Ahluwalia

Interview with Swiss-Tamil artist Priya Ragu on her culture, her music, and what the future holds.

Growing up as a person of colour in the Western world, it's pretty common to reject your culture at first. It takes a while for you to accept that coming from a different background is not a bad thing, that it's actually the opposite, and that learning more about where you come from can help you to figure out your own identity later down the line. Music artist Priya Ragu has struggled with this exact issue, having been born in Switzerland after her parents escaped civil war in Sri Lanka. Growing up, she struggled to merge both her Tamil and Swiss cultures but eventually managed to channel it into her music. We spoke to Ragu about her journey into the music industry, growing up in Switzerland, and what her future holds.

"I think I resisted Tamil culture when I was young," the singer told POPSUGAR. "When I was a teenager, it was like I wanted to feel more accepted in the white community, and I just wanted to adapt and be cool. Tamil culture was just not something that I was proud of at that time, and people used to bully me, saying 'curry' and all that stuff, and talking about being Tamil, how it sounds so funny and how people dress and that it's funny. Everything was funny to them. Eventually I was like, 'Damn, OK. You guys are right.' I was just not proud of it at that time," she explained. Ragu had a pretty strict upbringing, and she said, "My parents were very strict, so everything that had to do with their culture, it felt like, 'I'm not allowed to do anything here.' It was difficult to grow up between two cultures."
Ragu noted that social media has helped her to identify with other South Asians in the past few years, explaining that "when I was a teenager, there was no Instagram and it was hard to find your community, but nowadays, you're connected with everybody, and you feel proud, and you feel like somebody". Along with social media, discovering other Tamil artists has been a huge turning point for Ragu, with Tamil rapper M.I.A. being a particularly strong inspiration for her. "When I saw M.I.A. on TV, I was like, 'Wow, who is this?' Finally, I saw somebody who looked like me and who has this Tamil influence in her music, and she just made everything cool again," the singer told us.
Full interview at: