After the American Idols Live tour ended last year, Anoop Desai moved to Los Angeles and waited.
He waited for the record companies to approach him. He waited for the managers to come calling.
After a few weeks, he realized he needed to stop waiting.
“It turns out I had to do a lot of the legwork myself,” says the North Carolina native, who placed sixth during the eighth season of American Idol. “So that’s what I’ve done, and it has turned out better than I expected.”
Anoop plans to release his first single — My Name, written with Season 6 finalist Brandon Rogers — in March and follow that with a collection of songs, tentatively titled All Is Fair, later in the spring.
“The album is more in the pop vein, more in the R&B vein,” he says. “The goal is to capture different moods, different states of mind through different styles of music. … More than anything, the album is telling a story — my story, from the beginning of my experience with women until now.”
Anoop says he has already tracked seven or eight songs for All Is Fair. “It’s just a matter of getting them into the studio and producing them, mixing them and mastering them. At the same time, I’m still writing every day. If something emerges that’s better, we’ll put that on there, too.”
In addition to his writing with Brandon, Anoop has been collaborating with Season 6 semi-finalist Jared Cotter, Nashville pop singer-songwriter Josh Hoge and David Mikush, a friend from Anoop’s college a cappella group, the Clef Hangers
“He was always supposed to be the guy who ‘made it,'” Anoop says. “Even though we’re best friends, we never really wrote together before this year.”
In the U.S., All Is Fair likely will see only a digital release. But Anoop says he’s also exploring opportunities in India and hopes also to have a physical release there.
“A lot of my contacts have great contacts for distribution in India,” he says. “I’m very excited about it. A lot of the music we’re writing — just because of how I write and what I think is cool — has an Indian element to it.”
Before Idol, Anoop was pursuing a graduate degree in folklore at the University of North Carolina. “There is something in me that naturally gravitates and links on and absorbs everything about whatever culture I’m in,” he says. “I’m able to take aspects of different cultures and use them as part of something new.”
While Anoop’s not working on a full-on Bollywood album or anything, he estimates that about half the tracks he’s cut so far incorporate tabla and/or sitar. “I think that’s a cool vibe,” he says. “That’s something I’ve been experimenting with a lot in my music — sort of bringing pop, R&B and Hindi music into one vein.
“Both of the cultures I consider myself to be a part of — the South and India — have rich musical traditions, rich food traditions, rich literary traditions. It’s something that has been really nice for me, because I can draw from those rich traditions and feel part of them at the same time.”