Has any art form evolved so magnificently as music? Genres, sub-genres, gigs, labels, bands, solo artistes, the digital revolution, merging with other forms of art – music is as malleable as adaptable. Given the wide range of sounds out there, it takes guts to write your own songs and put it to tune by yourself. Some Indian Singer+Songwriters have done just that. Keep your ears peeled for:
Parekh & Singh
Gentle vocals, mellow guitars and synths, and a uniquely melancholy vibe- that’s the singer+songwriter duo from Calcutta for you. They are best known for their song I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll (2016). Influences on their music are apparent- Wes Anderson’s distinctive cinematic style, Woody Allen’s wit, and fashion sensibilities of musical times gone by. Nishchay Parekh and Jivraj Singh’s first album- Ocean, is a delightful pop record. Having played at The Great Escape at Brighton, and the Dot to Dot Festival all over Britain, as well as festivals across India, their souls remain in Calcutta, as do the roots of their sound.
Palash Kothari a.k.a Sparkle and Fade
Releasing music under the moniker, Sparkle and Fade, Mumbai based singer+songwriter Kothari, calls his music ‘dreamy childish silliness’. Pull up his 2016 EP Once we were Dragonflies, and silly won’t be the word to cross your mind. Neither childish. Turn his album on, the next time you’re driving down a highway on a cloudy day to get my drift.
Apurv Agarwal a.k.a. Cowboy and Sailor Man
Mumbai boy Apurv Agarwal released his first EP Closet Dancer in 2017. The four-track happy pill is full of lush synthpop, and a welcome addition to a collector’s ‘Slow Music’ folder. Playing the keyboard for as long as he can remember, it wasn’t until 2016 in Pune, that Apurv performed as Cowboy and Sailor Man, at a REProduce Listening Room. It’s been a good ride ever since.
Sharan Punjabi & Raghu Vamshi a.k.a Tansane
With their name a homage to one of the greatest musicians this world will know, Tansane duo Sharan Punjabi & Raghu Vamshi are a whirlpool of talent, drawing inspiration from music all across the globe. Their 2017 EP, ‘A Series of Happenings’ is a tape built for repeat listening. Can’t wait to see what’s next!
When talking about singer-songwriters, few have made waves across the board as Prateek Kuhad. He comes armed with a guitar, a notebook full of songs, and an invasive knowledge of both Indipop and international indie music. Simply press ‘play’ on his 2015 album, In Tokens & Charms, or listen to his 2013 EP- Raat Raazi, a joyful 5-track journey with happy tunes. His bilingual lyrics are personal, his melodies simple and soulful.
“For me, music is a story”, says this self-termed ‘solo percussive acoustic guitarist’ who began training at the mere age of 7. One through-listen to his 2015 rock opera Orion, and his mention in Acoustic Guitar Magazine’s list of ‘30 Great Guitarists Under 30’ seems completely justified. Known in the music circles by his affable grin and dad-on-the-beach-hat, Dhruv has stirred the acoustic corner of the Indian scene good and proper.
When talking of young bloomers, young budding folk songwriter Ramya Pothuri got a taste of the stage at the tender age of five. Post a stint of performing in restaurants around Hyderabad, she moved to Mumbai, where performances at venues like Blue Frog, NCPA, and festivals like Ctrl+Alt+Del, introduced her to the vibrant city scene. 2016 saw her first EP We Never Left. Her songwriting betrays a mind older than her years lived, and her voice commands attention with its softness. She and Ronit Sarkar have been organizing gigs in homes around Mumbai called ‘The Living Room Tour’, where intimate music like theirs get the platform and audience they deserve.
Ronit Sarkar popular from his days with homegrown punk pioneers BLEK, now makes music as Awkward Bong. His first album boasts of single-material songs like Golden and the sensitive You Don’t Have To Hide to Step- a 38 second song, which hits harder than most albums. Sarkar embodies the potential of the independent music scene in India. His videos feature his friends, he writes his songs by himself, and plays them with friends who double as his back-up band.
While there are miles to go for our local talent to make the mark that they are working towards, they sure are marching, tirelessly, towards their collective goal. And that’s what matters, doesn’t it?