The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Thursday, June 20, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Former Clef Anoop Desai is back in N.C.

Wants to take ‘organic approach’ to music

“I think this is the beginning of something big,” said Anoop Desai. DTH/ Phong Dinh
“I think this is the beginning of something big,” said Anoop Desai. DTH/ Phong Dinh

Almost a year after his appearance on the eighth season of American Idol, UNC alumnus Anoop Desai is back in the Osceola Recording Studios in Raleigh where he originally performed with the UNC Clef Hangers.

After a national tour with his fellow Top 10 Idol contestants, a brief, disheartening stint in Los Angeles and a return to North Carolina, Desai is currently preparing for the March 23 release of his first original single, “My Name.”

It comes off his EP “All Is Fair,” which will be released in May. Desai plans to release a new EP every few months.

His newest musical endeavor is an effort growing from the ground up, motivated by his experience in Los Angeles and the distortion of the music industry there.

“L.A. is all about grasping for things it can promote. The consequence is new artists come out who can’t sing — they’re models,” he said. “I never wanted to get into that. I wanted to make music, but good music.”

When Desai was eliminated from the show in the spring of 2009 after reaching sixth place, he went on tour until September and moved to Los Angeles in October. He stayed for a few months before returning home to North Carolina, the state where he grew up and attended UNC.

After returning to Los Angeles Monday, Desai will begin his promotional and press tour, followed by an international tour beginning in May that will include stops around the U.S., India, the U.K. and the Philippines.

Desai hired his own public relations staff and manager, co-wrote and produced all of his songs and assembled a team that shared his goal of producing authentic, original music.

“My approach to the music business is an organic one,” Desai said.

Andrew Simpson, a member of the Clef Hangers, acknowledged Desai’s sense of individuality and dedication to his music.

“Anoop was never one to go down a pre-prescribed track. He’s always enjoyed his sense of creativity,” Simpson said.

Desai started working in November on “All Is Fair,” an EP with songs relating to the theme of love, he said. The styles of the songs represent some of the different facets of love — happy, sad, angry.

His next EP will be about themes such as home, fame and anger.

“I have so much faith, in the songs, to the people I’ve surrounded myself with. We’re making good art. I hope this is going to be the beginning of something big,” he said.

Desai described “All Is Fair” as a pop record, despite the R&B presence he grew up with. The rhythm of the single, “My Name,” is influenced by Indian music, he said.

“This gives it a different feel. It’s not generic by any means. I’m excited for people to hear this type of fusion,” Desai said. “With that Indian influence, I don’t think there’s anything like it on the radio.”

The conglomeration of Indian rhythm, R&B influence and a pop style is what makes Desai appeal to audiences, Clef Hanger Hogan Medlin said.

“His style of music is so interesting; it’s one of the things that appealed to people on American Idol,” Medlin said. “He’s an American Indian kid singing soulful R&B. He’s trying to market what makes Anoop, Anoop.”

Despite his upcoming record release, international fame and the tendency to be stopped by people in cities across the country who voted for him, Desai, who only recently took himself off Student Central, said he maintains close ties to Chapel Hill and the University.

“One thing I’m passionate about and will continue to be is supporting Chapel Hill and North Carolina, even when it comes time to do something big,” Desai said.

“You can’t ‘rep’ N.C. and be in L.A. If you’re going to ‘rep’ N.C., you’ve got to be in N.C.”

Contact the University Editor at

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel 2024 Orientation Guide