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At a dark and intimate lounge on an October night in the Lower East Side, several Indians descended upon the scene, ready to see one of their own embrace her moment in the spotlight. They were there to see R&B and jazz singer-songwriter Saleka perform songs from her upcoming debut album, Seance.
To many, Saleka may be renowned director M. Night Shyamalan’s daughter. But over the last year and a half, she has broken out to create a niche of her own, winning acclaim for her singles and captivating crowds with atmospheric and narrative-driven concerts. Born into a family of Indian-American immigrants, arts has been coursing through her veins for as long as she can remember.
In an exclusive interview with SEEMA, Saleka talks about her upbringing and the inherent pressure to succeed, working with her father on his show “Servant” and movie Old, and the intricacies of the stories she tells through her new album.
Tell me more about your childhood and what it was like growing up in a household where your father is already a worldwide name.
I had a pretty normal childhood, I would say. We’re all super close, and still are. I think that was a big part of my childhood, family was super important. And my parents kind of instilled that value system as well, keeping the family together and seeing each other often, even our grandparents and cousins.
I started music from a young age, with classical piano when I was four. And when I turned 16 or 17, I wanted to try writing my own songs and singing and exploring that. Because of my dad’s career, our household is always filled with art, we’re always talking about movies and music, just artistic things. And I don’t know who I would be if I wasn’t raised that way. I also think that I’m lucky because both my parents are interested in the arts and with my dad having made a career out of film, I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where the arts were perceived as a viable career option and to be supported in that, because I know that’s not the case in every family.
It’s that most wonderful time of the year — the festive season, the season of fancy clothes, family gatherings (safely done, of course), traditional activities, and lavish feasts. No festival is really complete without the joy of a grand eat, blitzing through varieties of snacks, savories, desserts, what have you. In the midst of all the nosy relatives and the incessant picture-taking, the food is really the shining beacon at big fat Indian festivals.
We at SEEMA wholeheartedly agree, having enjoyed a plate — or five — of our favorites at these occasions. We’ve got for you some of the team’s favorite festive eats, from the sweet to the delightfully savory, and hope you’ll enjoy these for yourselves this season!