Vivek Shraya has been preparing for his latest collaboration his entire life. The author, musician, and filmmaker (and former Xtra! cover boy) is launching Too Attached, a musical team-up with his brother, Shamik. As the name implies, the duo share a close connection, which started early on. “Because we were so close in age, our mother used to dress us similarly,” Shraya says. “I remember us being in spandex or fluorescent shorts, and we were like ‘the brothers that sang.’” We caught up with himto talk family, music and getting “the brothers that sang” back together.
Daily Xtra: What was your relationship with Shamik like growing up?
Vivek Shraya: My brother and I used to sing at our religious centre together when we were kids. It was just like Hindu prayers, essentially. But then at home, we were really drawn to Zhané. I think partly because they were a duo. This is when we were in junior high. In our late teens and early 20s, we weren’t really connecting at all. We were finding ourselves as people, and we were very, very attached — too attached — as kids. And there was this moment where we were just . . . not attached.
What made you want to reunite?
Maybe this is an egotistical comparison, but I often think about this conversation Janet had about “Scream.” She was like “Michael’s asked me for years to collaborate, and I didn’t want it to be ‘Oh, Michael’s little sister’s on this track.’ I wanted to be known as Michael and Janet.” Not that we’re Michael and Janet in any way —
But if you were . . .
I’m obviously the Janet! But I’m about 13 years into my career and my brother’s about eight to 10 years into his — it makes sense at this moment to do this project.
What was your process of collaboration like?
My brother, basically his production style is taking old vinyl records and chopping them up and layering beats on top of it. So he’d send me snippet — an instrumental, essentially — and I would try to find a melody over it, or try to find the words around it. And sometimes it was very literal, so for “Snake,” the sample’s a snake charmer sound, so I started riffing off the idea of someone being a backstabber, being a snake. I think it’s a true collaboration in that, when I listen to the record, I think it’s the very best of my brother and the best of me.
Are you “too attached” again?
I would say my brother is probably my most profound and complicated relationship. And he’s been so, so supportive of my queerness. My brother is one of the first people I came out to.
How did that go down?
I would sorta test the waters with him. I’d say, “if we found out our neighbour was gay, what would you say?” And he’d say, “I don’t care.” And then a few months later, I’d say, “What would you do if you found out our doctor was gay?” And he’s say, “I don’t care.” And I said, “What would you do if I told you I was gay?” And he said, “I think I figured it out!”
(Main image courtesy of Alejandro Santiago)