Click here to read the article at The Point News
This past December marked an important time in the lives of a
small group of past St. Mary’s alumni with the release of their
band’s debut album, Finding Color in the Ashes.
It isn’t that often that the student body here at St. Mary’s
receives the chance to hear much about what past alumni have been
achieving since graduating from their own collegiate days. But the
four friends that make up the band Drop Electric have been gaining
some media attention this winter due to the release of their debut
The group consists of Ramtin Arablouei, ‘05, on drums, David
Garber, ‘06, on piano and keyboard, and Neel Singh, ‘06, and Sho
Fujiwara (a Norwestern University alumnus) on guitar.
According to the group’s Myspace page, they “creates a hybrid
of rock, electronica, world, and hip-hop music with a booming, bass
heavy style…which in turn brings together Eastern and Western
cultures over beats that make any crowd move.”
Drop Electric held the official release party for their CD on
Saturday, Dec.18, 2010 at the Black Cat in Washington, D.C. where
they were joined by the bands The Sweater Set from D.C., and
Brooklyn’s Emily Wells.
Not only has this group of St. Mary’s alumni successfully
published their own album, but they also have been using Drop
Electric as a platform to support local issues and fundraising
within the local Maryland/D.C. community, such as Young Women’s
Drum Empowerment Project and Empower DC.
The band stated in an interview on D.C.’s District of Sound
website in 2009, “Obviously, it’s nice to make money and fund
studio work, but when it comes down to it we are all members of the
community and as a result have responsibilities. We just want to
make any small contribution we can. We’ll continue to do this as
long as we are a band.”
The group particularly went to great lengths in order to help
raise funds for their former lead singer Padma Soundararajan, also
an alumna of St. Mary’s, after she lost both parents and her two
sisters to a devastating car accident a few years ago, which left
her the sole provider for her two younger brothers, one with autism
and the other with severe cerebral palsy.
Due to Soundararajan’s new responsibilities, she unfortunately
had to drop out of the band, leaving the group with no vocalist.
Afterwards, Drop Electric had no choice but to become an
The band’s Facebook page states that “During the ensuing
months, the remaining members of the band found solace in music.
This album captures the music written during that time period. Each
song attempts to make sense of the tragedy and find glimpses of
hope in the often senseless nature of life.”
The album has been dedicated in loving memory to
Soundararajan’s family. However, she isn’t the only one that has
helped to craft the resulting sound of the quartet’s new album,
since the CD is also dedicated to the late former St. Mary’s
professor Lucille Clifton.
Clifton over the years has left an important legacy at St.
Mary’s College, including the plaques of her writings that circle
the St. John’s pond, her poem “Blessing the Boats” that can be seen
printed on the wall of the main hall of the campus center, and the
memories that many upperclassmen have of her speaking at their
She was a close friend and mentor to Arablouei, and recordings
of her voice reciting her poetry can be heard in a number of their
songs. “We want current students to know the legacy that Lucille
Clifton leaves behind, as well as the students who came just before
them,” said Singh. “It is one of our great regrets that she cannot
hear the album.”
A review of their album in the Washington Post appeared in
mid-December 2010 with the reporter Catherine Lewis stating that
the “sorrow is apparent in these mostly instrumental
songs…[but]…this album surges with a tranquil hopefulness.”
They have even been compared in reviews to bands such as
Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai.
Finding Color in the Ashes, which includes thirteen tracks
averaging lengths of around four minutes a piece, has also been
officially released on iTunes for $9.99.
Despite their growing audience, Drop Electric still remembers
that their beginnings happened here at St. Mary’s. “This album
could not have been possible without SMCM and the love we have for
that place,” said Singh. “I cannot stress enough how important St.
Mary’s is in our lives and how thankful we are that we decided to
attend the school.”