Peekay’s EP ‘Starlight’ Is Illuminating The Hyderabad Music Scene

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Pranati Khanna, well known by her stage name “Peekay,” is a Hyderabad native with a varied background in business and music. She began her career as the main singer of the rock band “Spell Check” (formerly “The Ragamuffins”), but in 2020 she made the switch to a solo career, exploring the worlds of Pop and R&B while continually pushing the limits of her musical style. Peekay’s first two singles as a solo singer, “Good, Old Fashioned in Love” and “Much Better,” were produced by Bangalore-based, Grammy-nominated Jonathan Anand Wesley.

These songs gained popularity quickly, receiving 50,000 Spotify streams in a relatively short amount of time. She continued her musical career by releasing several singles, including “Dunno,” “You Don’t Have To,” and “Sunshine On The Street (Ft. Andrea Tariang),” all of which were created by the famous Hyderabadi producer Jonathan Edward. She gained more notoriety as a result of this string of releases, which collectively amassed over 100,000 streams and established her as a rising star in the business. Peekay’s music is a mysterious fusion of smokey jazz ideas, heartfelt lyricism inspired by her own experiences, and varied pop music influences from different eras.

Starlight, Peekay’s most recent release, brilliantly blends the worlds of vivacious electronica and pure, edgy hard rock. This EP demonstrates her ability to move fluidly across the many rock and electronica genres while maintaining a distinctive sound that is all her own.

The best starting point for this audio voyage is the pilot track. The EP’s opening soundscape, which is thrilling, serves as the EP’s theme. The title track’s rough and punchy vocals give it an edge that keeps you listening from beginning to end. What’s striking is how Peekay successfully uses rock components as an extension of her electronica palette rather than falling victim to the clichés of cookie-cutter rock. The track’s significance as an essential component of the record is further cemented by the presence of a fascinating guitar solo.

Before the drums enter, “Wanna Be Bad” begins with a burst of fluorescent electronica colors, giving the song a strong kick. The guitars give the EP’s overall sound a punch and edge that gives it a dynamic twist. Peekay chooses to combine these polar differences and create a sound that is unmistakably her own rather than staying within the confines of either genre.

The journey continues with “No Ordinary,” a song whose vocals evoke recollections of vintage blues and rock ‘n’ roll classics and where Peekay’s rock inclinations emerge through the album. Her voice is a seductive fusion of classic rock ‘n’ rollers and more contemporary singers like Taylor Momsen, Hailey Williams, and others.

In a new direction, “Fever Dream” offers a more gritty, heavy, and guitar-driven feel. Here, processed electronic elements are subordinated to the raw sound of the guitars, displaying Peekay’s artistic diversity.  Following the album’s beginning, “What A Shame” immerses the listener in a rich soundscape made up of ambient components. The record’s juxtaposition of crisp, gritty guitars and a calm, colorful soundscape adds a welcome layer of depth. As the drums and guitar begin, the song easily switches to a stronger palette, resulting in a snappy, effervescent, and vivid experience. Not to mention the incredible guitar solo that completes this song and takes it to a whole new level of auditory delight.

Starlight, led by Peekay’s undeniable ability and vision, is a musical voyage through the electronic and rock worlds. Every song on the EP contributes to a captivating story that captivates the listener from beginning to end.

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Sonic Storyteller B-Leaf Unveils The Secret To Using Music As A Form Of Self Expression

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Music is one of the best forms of expression, be it emotions, certain feelings, conveying personal stories, sharing ideologies, or just curating something that everyone finds relatable. Lyrics are often necessary to convey what’s intended to convey, something that one might term as the most important and structural form of a track, something that makes a piece meaningful. On the other hand, the music/instrumentals are used to support by creating an atmosphere, complimenting the lyrics, and often just to make stuff ‘vibey’. But what if I told you the same music can be used to voice the intended thoughts and channel the feelings?

From the city of Indore, a six-year-old kid started gaining a keen interest in classical music and later began practicing it. Classical Music lies in the heart of India. The sound, although old in terms of the genres we have today, is the mother of all types and styles of music, and B-Leaf understood this at a very tender age. After being exposed to newer forms of music, having been to shows, and experienced other genres, B-Leaf has had the intuition of fusing sounds inculcated into him.

When asked about his idea behind the rather quirky name, the artist had a very beautiful explanation, “B-leaf is short for a banana leaf. The reason behind me going by this name for my artistic persona is because it holds an emotional connection to my childhood. I remember visiting my grandfather’s farms and it is very nostalgic for me. I hope to express the same feeling through my music. Banana leaf became B-Leaf cause everyone should believe in something and hustle for it. For me that is music.”

At present, the artist is based in Virginia, US. He has released three albums and four EPs, with several other singles and features. The artist has a way of expressing himself through music. He is no less than a storyteller, the only condition is that sounds and instruments speak for him. He refers to his guitar as his second vocalist and emphasizes how important sounds are in his pieces. A classic example of this is his electric guitar piece on ‘Dry Spell’, a track from Karun’s album ‘Qabool Hai’. Arguably one of the artist’s best solos, The effect the instrumental piece had was prominent throughout the track. Another noteworthy track is Avarnaniya, In collaboration with a few like-minded artists, B-Leaf aims at narrating a story through sounds. The track has no lyrics, only a pretext of what makes an optimist lose hope in altruism. Conveyed through vocal samples and instruments, the track expects you to find the intended meaning.

We had a conversation with B-Leaf regarding two of his remarkable projects, Saalgirah and Chandra Kalaayein. The projects are paramount to the artist, both in terms of personal significance and his artistry. “I’m turning 28 this year and everything I’ve experienced in my life, be it ecstasy, love, or depression among other things is defined by 15 songs. These 15 songs are grouped into two albums and a concluding single.”

Diving deeper into Saalgirah, released in the early summer of 2022, B-Leaf said, “After recovering from depression and finding a new way to move forward in life, I decided to make an album talking about what I learned from this dark phase. I called it Saalgirah because I wanted to celebrate this album like an anniversary, reminding myself that it’s the moments that make and break me, that ultimately define the person I am.”

Although Saalgirah was seemingly a complete body of expression, it lacked the essence of love. B-Leaf believes that love is a vast topic, and this aspect needs and deserves much more attention than he could afford in the previous projects. “Thus Chandra Kalaayein was born. A sequel to Saalgirah that just speaks about love and my adventures with it, Chandra Kalaayein compares love to the phases of the moon.” The conclusion to these albums was a single named ‘Samay ko Bhi’, B-Leaf further explained saying, “It’s a humble reminder that everything changes with time and we keep moving forward no matter what.”

Earlier this year, B-Leaf also released a very light-hearted and different than his usual EP, “Bhabhi Hunter”, in collaboration with Darzi. The EP was thematically quite comical and displayed a diversity in his discography. He also released ‘Pachaas Baatien’ a couple of months ago. The track is his 50th song and features beautiful solos, with references to his past projects and tracks.

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Offline Music Marketing Tools For Every Independent Musician

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Given the unpredictable patterns and ever-evolving nature of social media algorithms, many independent artists are struggling with their reach and visibility, while putting in efforts to consistently market their music on online platforms. This very struggle is not unfamiliar even to more established independent acts with verified Instagram accounts. We don’t mean to neglect the numerous ways in which social media has revolutionised how independent musicians grow in fame and following, but it’s evident that offline marketing campaigns rarely cross the minds of musicians today. We think it’s time for that to change.

There’s a wholesome and personal touch associated with offline methods of sharing your music and interacting with your listeners. The feedback is usually authentic and immediate. Here are  _ offline music marketing methods you should consider trying.

  1. Approaching local cafes/bars to add your song to their playlists

When listening to the music played on the speakers of a cafe, you may have thought that your song would definitely be a match for the ambience of the place. Don’t hesitate to approach the cafe manager, and ask if they’d be willing to add your song to their playlist. It’s possible that their other customers may discover your music after listening to your playlisted song. A genial relationship with the cafe manager can be a gateway to other opportunities for your music. 

  1. Perform live

There’s a setting for artists of every level to perform live, ranging from open mics to booked gigs. Performing live is an intimate medium for the upcoming indie act to share their music with a local crowd and build up a fan-base. Those who enjoy the live renditions of your music are likely to catch you at subsequent performances. The relationships you form with different organisers and venue managers allow for promising opportunities in the future.

  1. Posters

Know of a place where those who listen to indie music hang out often? Get creative and put up some DIY posters of your music (with respective permission) with the QR Code links to stream your music and follow you on your socials. Make sure the graphics and visuals you use reflect who you are as an artist and resemble the style of your music.

  1. Word of Mouth

Lately, your friends and family members’ Instagram stories sharing your music may not be cutting it in when it comes to increasing your listeners. Asking your treasured family members, friends and colleagues to share their favourite songs of yours in their social circles may just be the boost that helps you grow a local fanbase. If you’re open to the idea, you can ask them to play your music during suitable events and gatherings, hopefully striking up conversations about your artistry.

  1. Networking at Music Events

No matter how small and tight the indie scene may be in your location, there’ll almost always be a new face to meet at a music event. You can introduce yourself as a musician and exchange contact information to people you meet at gigs; event organisers may be scouting for talents to book. Befriending other musicians can lead to collaborations on projects, as well as mutual learning.

  1. Meet and Greet Events (for artists with a larger fanbase)

Most listeners adore the idea of seeing their favourite musicians as the humans that they are, when exposed to only a fabricated snippet of their lives on social media. If you’re playing a live show and are comfortable with meeting your listeners, you can arrange for a post-gig meet and greet session in which you can interact with those who appreciate your music, where your personal boundaries are respected. A photobooth, merchandise, and autograph signings can be incorporated if preferred. 

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TWINQ’S ‘Legends Don’t Sleep’ Is A Simple And Honest Endevour To Express Oneself And Relate To The Masses

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Legends Don’t Sleep is the second project of Imphal born, Mumbai bred rapper, singer, composer and music producer, Tanishq Asem. Tanishq who goes by the stage name TWINQ has been closely associated with hip-hop since his childhood when he used to stunt skate and b-boy, back in his hometown. But it wasn’t until he had moved to Mumbai in 2010 that he developed a keen interest in making Hip-Hop music. What started as a means to distract himself from the cultural shock he experienced after moving to the metropolis slowly became a lot more than that as he started attending cyphers and block parties with the likes of D’evil, Mumbai’s Finest, Bombay Lokal, Enkore and other OGs of Mumbai Hip-Hop scene.

TWINQ released his first single in 2018 after honing his craft for a few years, performing in various college competitions, cyphers and underground rap parties. His latest EP ‘Legends Don’t Sleep’ comes three years after his debut project ‘Love Songs are Drugs’ and verbalizes his struggle with mental health issues and his determination to keep working towards his goals and dreams, as elucidated by the title. A bunch of amazing music producers, Vedang, Shinji, Kaala, Bowdum and Neerad have helped TWINQ co producer and build the mellow pop rap/ neo-soul soundscape of the project.

“I started making the project during a very dark phase of my life back in 2018-2019 & it was supposed to be my debut album with the title ‘Thisconnected’. Originally it had around 16 tracks & I had plans to release it in 2020. But eventually I grew out of many of the tracks & ‘Legends don’t sleep’ was born after filtering the album.”, the rapper recalls.

The first single off the project ‘Headphones with Lights Off’ featuring Madkap, released in 2021, along with a powerful and relatable short film by Himangini Puri, acts as the opener. The song’s relatability stems from TWINQ’s accessible hook and Madkap’s brilliant use of imagery in his verse.

‘Merry Go Round’ delves into the emo rap sphere with Lil Uzi Vert inspired adlibs and melodies. Kaala’s performance stands out as he breaks TWINQ’s monotone by delivering a verse with fresh flows and melodies. Like the previous two tracks ‘These Days’ also rests on the singalong-ability of the hook when nothing interesting is happening in other sections of the track. A Mac Miller interview acts as the interlude and is a perfect segue to a darker second part of the tracklist. ‘Growing Up’ is a claustrophobic and dark insight into the rapper’s mind full of internal conflicts. A song like this would require him to dig a lot more deeper into his vocabulary for maximum effect but sadly it doesn’t happen here. A painfully long title track comes next which has the featuring Madkap as the saving grace. His beautiful rhymes and well thought out bars elevate, again a very monotonous performance by TWINQ. In ‘Anxiety’, the rapper opens up about his struggle with anxiety disorder. To make things interesting, featuring artist ‘Bowdum’ raps as the voice inside Tanishq’s head, the voice tone and delivery add a great character to the performance.

‘Legends Don’t Sleep’ is a simple and honest endeavor to express oneself and relate to the masses through simple lyrics and music that is easy to the ears. While this formula did work well in the first half of the project, the more intimate cuts deserved a better lyrical performance from the rapper.
The EP marks an important point in TWINQ’s career as he reminds himself to embrace and leave all the obstacles he’s faced in the journey behind and work dedicatedly to achieve a better future.

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TWINQ’S ‘Legends Don’t Sleep’ Is A Simple And Honest Endeavour To Express Oneself And Relate To The Masses

[ad_1]

Legends Don’t Sleep is the second project of Imphal born, Mumbai bred rapper, singer, composer and music producer, Tanishq Asem. Tanishq who goes by the stage name TWINQ has been closely associated with hip-hop since his childhood when he used to stunt skate and b-boy, back in his hometown. But it wasn’t until he had moved to Mumbai in 2010 that he developed a keen interest in making Hip-Hop music. What started as a means to distract himself from the cultural shock he experienced after moving to the metropolis slowly became a lot more than that as he started attending cyphers and block parties with the likes of D’evil, Mumbai’s Finest, Bombay Lokal, Enkore and other OGs of Mumbai Hip-Hop scene.

TWINQ released his first single in 2018 after honing his craft for a few years, performing in various college competitions, cyphers and underground rap parties. His latest EP ‘Legends Don’t Sleep’ comes three years after his debut project ‘Love Songs are Drugs’ and verbalizes his struggle with mental health issues and his determination to keep working towards his goals and dreams, as elucidated by the title. A bunch of amazing music producers, Vedang, Shinji, Kaala, Bowdum and Neerad have helped TWINQ co producer and build the mellow pop rap/ neo-soul soundscape of the project.

“I started making the project during a very dark phase of my life back in 2018-2019 & it was supposed to be my debut album with the title ‘Thisconnected’. Originally it had around 16 tracks & I had plans to release it in 2020. But eventually I grew out of many of the tracks & ‘Legends don’t sleep’ was born after filtering the album.”, the rapper recalls.

The first single off the project ‘Headphones with Lights Off’ featuring Madkap, released in 2021, along with a powerful and relatable short film by Himangini Puri, acts as the opener. The song’s relatability stems from TWINQ’s accessible hook and Madkap’s brilliant use of imagery in his verse.

‘Merry Go Round’ delves into the emo rap sphere with Lil Uzi Vert inspired adlibs and melodies. Kaala’s performance stands out as he breaks TWINQ’s monotone by delivering a verse with fresh flows and melodies. Like the previous two tracks ‘These Days’ also rests on the singalong-ability of the hook when nothing interesting is happening in other sections of the track. A Mac Miller interview acts as the interlude and is a perfect segue to a darker second part of the tracklist. ‘Growing Up’ is a claustrophobic and dark insight into the rapper’s mind full of internal conflicts. A song like this would require him to dig a lot more deeper into his vocabulary for maximum effect but sadly it doesn’t happen here. A painfully long title track comes next which has the featuring Madkap as the saving grace. His beautiful rhymes and well thought out bars elevate, again a very monotonous performance by TWINQ. In ‘Anxiety’, the rapper opens up about his struggle with anxiety disorder. To make things interesting, featuring artist ‘Bowdum’ raps as the voice inside Tanishq’s head, the voice tone and delivery add a great character to the performance.

‘Legends Don’t Sleep’ is a simple and honest endeavor to express oneself and relate to the masses through simple lyrics and music that is easy to the ears. While this formula did work well in the first half of the project, the more intimate cuts deserved a better lyrical performance from the rapper.
The EP marks an important point in TWINQ’s career as he reminds himself to embrace and leave all the obstacles he’s faced in the journey behind and work dedicatedly to achieve a better future.

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Bhojpuri Soundwaves From Bihar and Jamshedpur Is Charting Up Recognition In The Indian Music Scene

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At the heart of India lies a city bustling with clanks of iron and steel, Jamshedpur. A city so busy and diverse that it has opened its arms to not only people from around the nation but also humbly accepted their values, cultures, and art. Historically, housing the first steel plant in India, Jamshedpur has also accepted and exalted the budding music scene. Exactly 378km north of Jamshedpur lies Bihar, a state blessed with a beautiful amalgamation of cultures and languages with the most prominent being Bhojpuri. Both Jamshedpur and Bihar boast a large Bhojpuri-speaking population. To be human is to have a culture that is transmitted through language that transcends time and space. Originating from Bihar and parts of UP, Bhojpuri with its melodic and eclectic modulation and rhythmic tones and vocabulary creates an enchanting harmony of words.

Hip-Hop blends into different cultures and languages, providing its listeners with a sense of belongingness and relatability while also enjoying a distinct genre of music in their mother tongue. Many Hip-Hop artists from Jamshedpur and Bihar have taken their talent to the next level by rapping in Bhojpuri and English and presenting their malleability.

In an intimate conversation with artists of Jamshedpur and Bihar- Raajmusic, Abhishek Roy, Dzire, Lit Trust, Harass, and Sanskaar, I was introduced to the exuberance of their art and their pride in repping their hometown and culture. Raajmusic, an artist who mainly raps in Bhojpuri is also the co-founder of Jamshedpur’s first HipHop collective, Jamshedpur HipHop TV. “For me, Bhojpuri is my comfort language and if linguistic music industries like the Punjabi music industry can make a mark why can’t the Bhojpuri music industry?”. He aims to break the stereotype that only Rap songs sung in Hindi and English can be popular among the masses.

The regional borders are not simply political but also cultural and linguistic and the Bhojpuri language, in the Indian subcontinent, has been termed “vulgar” and “cheap” and so is the character of someone whose native tongue is Bhojpuri. He has also expressed the insecurity that independent linguistic artists face in cities like Jamshedpur and Bihar state. The youth of such places are being hollowed out by the metropolitan ‘mahanagris’. Even then, Raajmusic and other HipHop artists of Jamshedpur like Abhishek Roy and Dzire have not given up on their dream.

Their first big-scale event was ‘Johar Jam’ in 2021 which boasted artists like Gravity, Rapture, and Shinigxmi. With no funds and sponsors, their event was a success, all thanks to the crowd-funding pan-India. For Abhishek Roy, being able to pull off such an event was a moment of pride for him. “I remember the event as if it happened yesterday- My city, My people, the fans who hyped the artists from other places as if they were family. That is what Jamshedpur is all about,” said Abhishek.

Battle raps have always been at the core of Hip-hop. The lyrical genre and the witty yet humorous exchanges between the two rappers are always an epic showdown. Unfortunately, the arena of Battle Rap has always been male-dominated, especially in the Indian hip-hop scene. Yet, in the heart of Jamshedpur resides Dzire, one of the most promising female battle rappers in India. When talking about the gender disparity in the Indian HipHop Scene she laughs and says, “I have been asked many times- How does it feel to be a ‘female’ battle rapper’ to which I never have the answer.

The city I grew up in and the people who surrounded me never made me feel that I needed to work harder to prove myself because I am a girl. Talent for me has no gender. My battle justifies who I am, my bars justify who I am and my artistry has always been welcomed and exalted by the people of Jamshedpur.” Her battles with Rapture, an artist from Mumbai in 2021, and her most recent battle with MC Kode is one for the books. Music has no language, it eclipses social stratifications yet, is bounded by its own sets of judgments and critiques.

Who defines what a ‘true’ language sounds like and what is ‘true’ music or ‘true’ rap music? Why is it that certain languages and music in certain languages seem to be accepted while some are looked down upon? “Music, I believe is one aspect that should not be bounded by pre-conceived notions but should be enjoyed by all. When making and listening to music, it should not matter where you come from. At the end of the day, music is music.” says Harass, a Bihari rapper who raps in Bhojpuri and Hindi, whose EP AAPAH has been lauded by the critics for a beautiful lyrical lifecycle and also paying respect to his idols- Tupac, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and Rudaaki. Language not only is a medium of communication but also a medium of passing on stories and ballads. What better way of enjoying and enacting stories in your local language and immersing yourself in pockets of reliability.

For Sanskaar, an artist from Jamshedpur, language, theatre, and cinema have shaped his musical career to a huge extent. “Local cinema has inspired my rap, the theatrical experience and the story-telling lyrics have influenced my music to a huge extent.” On the other hand, Lit Trust an artist from Bihar who also raps in Bhojpuri and Hindi and also produces music under the name Sampliyaha. From opening for Ritviz’s show in Patna to releasing his first ep ‘Jhal Muri’in 2021, releasing his first album ‘RERERE’ in 2022 and recently dropping a banger verse on Dhanji’s most awaited album ‘RUAB’. Independent HipHop artists like Lit Trust who hail from smaller pockets of the nation possess an extreme hunger; an inviolable flame to prove themselves and gratify their home and culture.

‘Music is one, only languages and cultures are different.’ With this ideology, my beloved artists from Jamshedpur and Bihar strive to keep making music and re-construct the imagery of Bhojpuri music and their culture. “We don’t tend to victimize ourselves because of where we come from, we own our language and experience our culture and make use of all the resources we have to leave a mark in the music industry.” with this their feelings aligned.

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Bhojpuri Rap: A Tale of Reconstructing Imagery Of Bhojpuri Culture Through Rap

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At the heart of India lies a city bustling with clanks of iron and steel, Jamshedpur. A city so busy and diverse that it has opened its arms to not only people from around the nation but also humbly accepted their values, cultures, and art. Historically, housing the first steel plant in India, Jamshedpur has also accepted and exalted the budding music scene. Exactly 378km north of Jamshedpur lies Bihar, a state blessed with a beautiful amalgamation of cultures and languages with the most prominent being Bhojpuri. Both Jamshedpur and Bihar boast a large Bhojpuri-speaking population. To be human is to have a culture that is transmitted through language that transcends time and space. Originating from Bihar and parts of UP, Bhojpuri with its melodic and eclectic modulation and rhythmic tones and vocabulary creates an enchanting harmony of words.

Hip-Hop blends into different cultures and languages, providing its listeners with a sense of belongingness and relatability while also enjoying a distinct genre of music in their mother tongue. Many Hip-Hop artists from Jamshedpur and Bihar have taken their talent to the next level by rapping in Bhojpuri and English and presenting their malleability.

In an intimate conversation with artists of Jamshedpur and Bihar- Raajmusic, Abhishek Roy, Dzire, Lit Trust, Harass, and Sanskaar, I was introduced to the exuberance of their art and their pride in repping their hometown and culture. Raajmusic, an artist who mainly raps in Bhojpuri is also the co-founder of Jamshedpur’s first HipHop community for artists, Jamshedpur HipHop TV. “For me, Bhojpuri is my comfort language and if linguistic music industries like the Punjabi music industry can make a mark why can’t the Bhojpuri music industry?”. He aims to break the stereotype that only Rap songs sung in Hindi and English can be popular among the masses.

Raajmusic

The regional borders are not simply political but also cultural and linguistic and the Bhojpuri language, in the Indian subcontinent, has been termed “vulgar” and “cheap” and so is the character of someone whose native tongue is Bhojpuri. He has also expressed the insecurity that independent linguistic artists face in cities like Jamshedpur and Bihar state. The youth of such places are being hollowed out by the metropolitan ‘mahanagris’. Even then, Raajmusic and other HipHop artists of Jamshedpur like Abhishek Roy and Dzire have not given up on their dream.

Their first big-scale event was ‘Johar Jam’ in 2021 which boasted artists like Gravity, Rapture, and Shinigxmi. With no funds and sponsors, their event was a success, all thanks to the crowd-funding pan-India. For Abhishek Roy, being able to pull off such an event was a moment of pride for him. “I remember the event as if it happened yesterday- My city, My people, the fans who hyped the artists from other places as if they were family. That is what Jamshedpur is all about,” said Abhishek.

Abhishek Roy

Battle raps have always been at the core of Hip-hop. The lyrical genre and the witty yet humorous exchanges between the two rappers are always an epic showdown. Unfortunately, the arena of Battle Rap has always been male-dominated, especially in the Indian hip-hop scene. Yet, in the heart of Jamshedpur resides Dzire, one of the most promising female battle rappers in India. When talking about the gender disparity in the Indian HipHop Scene she laughs and says, “I have been asked many times- How does it feel to be a ‘female’ battle rapper’ to which I never have the answer.

The city I grew up in and the people who surrounded me never made me feel that I needed to work harder to prove myself because I am a girl. Talent for me has no gender. My battle justifies who I am, my bars justify who I am and my artistry has always been welcomed and exalted by the people of Jamshedpur.” Her battles with Rapture, an artist from Mumbai in 2021, and her most recent battle with MC Kode is one for the books. Music has no language, it eclipses social stratifications yet, is bounded by its own sets of judgments and critiques.

Dzire vs. Rapture Battle Rap 2022

Who defines what a ‘true’ language sounds like and what is ‘true’ music or ‘true’ rap music? Why is it that certain languages and music in certain languages seem to be accepted while some are looked down upon? “Music, I believe is one aspect that should not be bounded by pre-conceived notions but should be enjoyed by all. When making and listening to music, it should not matter where you come from. At the end of the day, music is music.” says Harass, a Bihari rapper who raps in Bhojpuri and Hindi, whose EP AAPAH has been lauded by the critics for a beautiful lyrical lifecycle and also paying respect to his idols- Tupac, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and Rudaaki. Language not only is a medium of communication but also a medium of passing on stories and ballads. What better way of enjoying and enacting stories in your local language and immersing yourself in pockets of reliability.

Harass

For Sanskaar, an artist from Jamshedpur, language, theatre, and cinema have shaped his musical career to a huge extent. “Local cinema has inspired my rap, the theatrical experience and the story-telling lyrics have influenced my music to a huge extent.” On the other hand, Lit Trust an artist from Bihar who also raps in Bhojpuri and Hindi and also produces music under the name Sampliyaha. From opening for Ritviz’s show in Patna to releasing his first ep ‘Jhal Muri’in 2021, releasing his first album ‘RERERE’ in 2022 and recently dropping a banger verse on Dhanji’s most awaited album ‘RUAB’. Independent HipHop artists like Lit Trust who hail from smaller pockets of the nation possess an extreme hunger; an inviolable flame to prove themselves and gratify their home and culture.

Lit Trust
Sanskaar

‘Music is one, only languages and cultures are different.’ With this ideology, my beloved artists from Jamshedpur and Bihar strive to keep making music and re-construct the imagery of Bhojpuri music and their culture. “We don’t tend to victimize ourselves because of where we come from, we own our language and experience our culture and make use of all the resources we have to leave a mark in the music industry.” with this their feelings aligned.

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Singer-Songwriter Ankur Tewari Bares His Soul In Pandemic-Born Album, ‘Akela’

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After completing his quests as a singer-songwriter and music director for mainstream Bollywood movies like Gehraiyaan, Gully Boy and as a curator of latest season of Coke Studio Bharat, Ankur Tewari has returned to his home turf with his first studio album since 2017, Akela. The album marks an important career milestone, not just for the artist but also his new label, Tiger Baby Records, co-founded with Bollywood directors, Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti.

‘Akela’ brings forward a previously unseen and unexplored side of the singer as he drifts away from his usual youthful guitar based acoustic sound and ventures into a more mature, melancholic dream pop soundscape produced by Rohan Ramanna of Salvage Audio Collective. Like a lot of people including myself, Ankur was also forced to face his insecurities and loneliness during the dreadful lockdown which inspired this very personal, dark, dreamy and existential project that explores relationships and loneliness.

“It’s important for me to document what I am going through in a poetic form, so that I can look back and remember more than what I can see, and see more than I can remember.”

Ankur Tewari

The album starts with ‘Parwaana’. A roomy post-apocalyptic track that is composed to perfection. Ankur’s dreamy falsetto vocals, the spotless melodies and the switch from hopeless low pitch chords to a more optimistic sound in the pre-chorus as he sings about heartbreak, climacteric drums, all of it came together perfectly to build what could arguably be termed as the best song to come out of the indian indie space this year yet.

With the title track, Tewari writes an ode to his loneliness. A melancholic dream pop which completely justifies it’s five minute long runtime with brilliant songwriting and fervent singing.

Ankur Tewari’s 8-track album ‘Akela’ is a brave and bold effort for the singer as he confronts his long repressed emotions and bares his soul in front of the audience. He manages to build an emotional connection with the listener through his vulnerable self with a crisp runtime and ambient production enhancing the listening experience of the album manifolds. It is definitely one of the better release this year that would be hard to top.

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A Case for Musical Improv Jamming Sessions, How They Benefit Musicians and How to Host One

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What’s special in the art of musical improvisation is the spontaneity of the musical ideas created and put together in the moment, never to be recreated in exactly the same way. While many instrumentalists do make a point of practicing their improv skills to songs or backing tracks, I’d like to make a case for musical improv events; in which musicians jam together while playing different instruments with nothing pre-decided. This is live music in a very literal sense where never before heard arrangements can come alive. Participating in such jams has multiple benefits for musicians which are distinct from what one would get out of soloing to a backing track when practicing at home. Here are five benefits to playing at musical improv events.

  1. Ear Training

Improvising helps an instrumentalist develop sensitive and aware ears for playing along. The music may not be in a clearly established key in the way we understand it, and figuring out the notes which complement the music of the group can be a tricky but rewarding process to the less experienced. With a more developed ear, one is likely to be more confident when improvising.

2. Networking

Attending local improv events is a great way to meet like-minded musicians who may be open to jamming or collaborating in the future. There’s no better way to meet a fellow musician than by sharing the (figurative) stage and backing up their guitar solo with a funky bass groove. 

3. Exposure to new musical concepts

As none of the output at an improv event is predetermined, one is bound to come across a plethora of new sounds and progressions in which the music moves. Chords will clash. Notes will sound “wrong”. Are notes ever wrong? Someone may be playing outside the rhythm set by the percussionist. My point is, there’s space for the music not to sound pleasing to the ear the entire time the musicians are on the floor. What matters is how one adapts to resolve the dissonance. The encouragement of the random and the impromptu from the environment of an improv jam has musicians thinking in different ways than they’re accustomed. Improv is where the concepts of modes, polyrhythms, polytonality, modulations etc. come into application. The music birthed from a profound improv session may serve as inspiration for songwriters too. 

4. Trying hands on different instruments

So you can play the guitar, but have you tried your hands on a bass? Maybe a go on the keys will have you learn to play rhythm and melody at the same time; a seat on the drum kit to understand being the rhythmic backbone of the group. An improv event is a ripe opportunity to pick up an instrument that you’re not used to playing. You may naturally excel at playing one instrument over another, and possibly consider expanding your instrumental skillset.

5. Learning to play with others, in a band

When playing at an improv event, you can’t play like you’re soloing in your bedroom anymore. You’re sharing a sonic space with other musicians who all deserve to be heard. It’s important to understand when to take up the spotlight and when to allow others to take up the space. Most of the time, it wouldn’t be complementing to play a melody against someone else’s, unless you aim to harmonise. Allowing improv to be a give and take, a question and answer, makes for more fruitful communication between musicians.

If there are no music improv events happening around you, you can start one of your own. While it’s possible to hold sessions only for friends and bandmates, keeping a public event can lead to new networks and contribute to the improv culture. To host a music improv event you will need:

  1. A reasonably quiet venue, where your music won’t disturb others and others won’t disturb you. This could range from a living room to a music studio.
  2. Musical instruments and gear. You can ask attendees to bring their own instruments. The gear you may need will depend on the instruments and venue. One can even host an acoustic improv session, as long as the space allows for players to hear one another. The lack of quality gear should not hold you back from giving music improv a try.
  3. A recording device (optional) to record the music played in case one would like to replay and recreate those spontaneous ideas. 

The mindset of the organisers and musicians holds significance too. There’s a difference between an improv session and an improv show, and it’s important that this difference is observed. Musicians unfamiliar to playing improv should feel encouraged to go out of their comfort zones and embrace unprepared spontaneity. It would be best if there’s a constant rotation among the musicians on the floor to ensure that everyone who attends gets to participate, irrespective of whether they make the “best” music. 

After attending and playing at a few improv events myself, I hope to promote this culture which has helped me grow as a musician, not only in practice but in mindset and approach. Happy improvising! 

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Singles Roundup #69 – Hip-hop Heist, Indie Folk, Afrobeats And More!

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A fresh month calls for a brand new roundup with the freshest of tracks here at The Indian Music Diaries. In this edition, we bring in songs from varied genres by artists old and new. We have got a lot of artists blurring the lines between genres and blending them beautifully together. Put your earphones on and tune into these hot releases!

1)Bhussi – KSHMR, Seedhe Maut, Karan Kanchan 

Indian American DJ Producer KSHMR and Delhi-based favourite rap duo Seedhe Maut released their latest single ‘Bhussi,’ a track that talks about a protagonist embodying a hustler-like ambition. With its bouncy yet unforgettable, menacing hook and clever Wordplay, ‘Bhussi’ is the second single from KSHMR’s upcoming album ‘KARAM.’ The action-packed music video that shows the protagonist assembling a crew of trusted aides for his first heist elevates the song to another level. It is inspired by the bank robbery scene from the Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Aankhen.’ What will definitely catch your attention is, however, the use of the flute in this unforgettable track. 

2) Mamma Africa – Kreon 

Released with Backdoor Parade, Kreon’s 6-year journey as an indie artist is marked by ‘Mamma Africa’ – a lush new single that is the artist’s sonic love letter to the rich African culture. Right from the start, listeners get into the African groove with its ambient bird sounds, captivating rhythms, rich vocals and soulful melodies. The track is fun but also soothing to anyone who listens to it. The Amapiano record is something you definitely would not want to miss.

3) Tu Kahaan Hai? – Akanksha Sethi

Featured on Spotify’s Artist Radar for July is Mumbai-based Akanksha Sethi and her latest single ‘Tu Kahaan Hai?’ She captures the sense of clarity you have when you know you’ve fallen in love with the right person through her fresh and uplifting voice. The familiar dilemma of choosing between two lovers is beautifully showcased in the track as a journey from confusion to clarity. Using live instruments and guitar melodies serving the purpose of rhythms, the song teases you into liberation. It will keep you hooked with its soaring melodies and Sethi’s golden voice.

4) Antidote – Inspectah Gracious, Mc Kode 

Mumbai-based rapper Inspectah G and Delhi-based rapper Mc Kode released their killer track ‘Antidote.’ With its powerful and energetic flow and smooth delivery, the track talks about the struggles of breaking through the noise of the music industry. While Inspectah G proves to be a promising new talent with her hard-hitting rap game, Mc Kode slays equally hard with his Hindi rap all complemented well with some good old beats. 

5) Rosemary – Sunflower Tape Machine

This cutesy indie folk track was recently released by Sunflower Tape Machine and portrays a character who collectively represents the people you desire but cannot be with. With the usage of traditional folk elements, and light and fluffy vocals, the track proves to be relatable and has that cottage core aesthetic all along. With an intro that feels like a stroll in a garden, the song is soft yet radiant like young love.

6) Wajah – Shubham Kundu 

Shubham Kundu, a Nagpur-based artist recently released his single ‘Wajah,’ as a tribute to a person whom he holds dear. With soulful lyrics and powerful melodies, the song has a sort of delicate tenderness, reflecting the vulnerability and the depth of emotions, all of which are expressed through the electric guitar. The layers are added further to represent his growth and transformation due to this said person. The rise and fall of the melody, an idea to the ebbs and flows of the heart makes this song quite intense until there’s clarity.

7) Infinity Loop – Harish Budhwani

Pune-based artist Harish Budhwani expresses his passion for positivity and spiritual happiness through his latest track ‘Infinity Loop’. It is an instrumental track with percussive fingerstyle, harmonies and meditative notes. The journey-like song takes you on a rollercoaster-like emotion and makes you feel the highs, the lows and everything in between. With beats that have an out worldly effect on its listeners, it will surely make you put the song on the loop. 

8) Paisa – Notreal, Hashparker

This track with its punchy drums, pumping melodies and a groovy hook is the second track in Notreal and Hashparker’s upcoming album ‘Ye Duniya Tumhari Hai.’ It showcases the middle class to the affluent life cycle and the artist’s struggles to find a route out of this money-ruled world. The hallucinatory melodies fit perfectly well with the theme that talks about being caught in a timeless loop.

9) Maze/Haze – Murtuza Gadiwala, Shai

Mumbai-based Murtuza Gadiwala and the UK-based Shai released their killer dance-pop track ‘Maze/Haze’ recently. It steadily captures a conversation between a girl who has kept her guy confused and almost made him feel as though he’s lost in the maze that’s her love. The song has a certain calmness in all the chaos with an unforgettable chorus. The pop/Afrobeats track is dreamy with both the artists’ vocals blending perfectly well together.

10) Tu Hi Meri Jaan (Need You Here) – Maddbayy 

If you need a taste of the essence of true love, Maddbayy’s latest release ‘Tu Hi Meri Japan is for you. The track that blends EDM and R&B with touches of electro – kissed pop effectively captures the quest to find the ideal means to convey the commonly used phrase ‘Tu Hi Meri Jaan’ that has almost become a cultural expression. The Hindi/English track has an amazing hook with bright guitar melodies that keep you on your toes.

11) High for a While – Basho, Shilpa Natarajan 

This vocal/piano house track released by Bangalore-based Basho and Chennai-based Shilpa Natarajan will keep you grooving even after it ends. While the heart of the song lies in the piano chords, Shilpa’s vocals become, it’s safe to say, the pull factor. It is well balanced with some mellow tunes in the background and has tons of musical layers embedded in it. 

12) Hawaayi Yaadein – Khevna 

Encapsulating his journey of confusion and self-discovery is Mumbai-based Khevna’s debut track ‘Hawaayi Yaadein.’ A song that portrays the disorienting emotions and sense of displacement he faced after moving back from Los Angeles, the track is a beautiful blend of dreamy vocals, atmosphere instrumentals and introspective lyrics. With such a killer debut, Khevna proves to be a one-of-a-kind, promising young talent that we should all watch out for.

13) It’s not over, I love you – Reyaan Luthra, Kaxi

Motivated by personal experiences, Hyderabad-based Reyaan Luthra released his latest single ‘Its not over, I love you’ recently. The 20-year-old pours his heart out in this melodic hip-hop track with light hums and dreamy synths. The slow yet catchy beats coupled with a rap that gets you hooked is one you wouldn’t want to miss. 

14) Door Creep – Chugtea 

Delhi-based Melodic house/ techno producer released his latest killer track ‘Door Creep,’ an instrumental techno track that will surely get you moving. The track makes use of ambient sounds of a door creeping and an unforgettable beat drop. 

Go listen to this melody that you can blissfully drown in!

15) Your Love – Issamood, Meba Ofilia, Dappest

If you’re looking for the perfect summer song, Issamood and Meba Ofilia’s latest track ‘Your Love’ is for you. A song that beautifully blends R&B Soul and Afrobeats, this track is capable of making you feel young again. Produced and mixed by Issamood and mastered by Grammy-nominated Chris Genringer, the melody sensually moves along the song with the Shillong-based Meba Ofilia’s vocals.

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