Over the past few years, the indie music scene in India has garnered an audience like never before. Within the music industry, male voices continue to dominate the mainstream but female indie voices are reclaiming the narrative with their bold, experimental, novel and introspective music. Many artists have also released their debut singles/ EP/albums during the lockdown. They have rigorously been innovating new ways to connect with their audience as well as using music as a way of self-expression during these trying times. Music truly has the power to connect diverse voices, and to that end, here is a list celebrating emerging as well as innovative female voices of the indie music scene.
New-Delhi based musician Abhilasha Sinha’s whimsical and dreamy sounds came to the forefront with her debut single — Mothers. Having been an active part of bands RIVER with Kamakshi Khanna and Tarana Marwah, she is currently with No Honey with Keshav Dhar and Suyash Gabriel. Her latest single, Honey Bee explores the theme of love in the lockdown. Set to an ‘80s aesthetic video, Sinha’s enchanting voice adds to the mood of the video. With beautiful videos, introspective lyrics, and an enthralling voice, we can’t wait to see what she does next.
You can see the official music video for Honey Bee here.
Lawyer turned musician Aditi Ramesh’s powerful vocals are a phenomenon in themselves add to that her in-depth knowledge of Carnatic music and you have genre-defying music. While her music draws inspiration from various places, it is her jazz and blues tunes that have captured our collective attention. In 2019, Aditi released her first four-track EP – Leftovers. In an interview with The Hindu, she mentioned, “The first song, ‘Origin’, is a tribute to my Carnatic roots, telling people not to forget their roots.” Her diverse music sensibilities set her apart from the rest and her latest release Sambar Soul is further proof of her ability to blend quirky themes and lyrics to her jazz and blues tunes.
You can hear Sambar Soul, here.
Mumbai-based queer singer-songwriter Alisha Batth’s powerful, dynamic and evocative vocals are almost reminiscent of Amy Winehouse (if I dare say that) especially in the latest single All I Want. It is Batth’s vocals that capture your attention more than the instruments. A voice so strong, it is impossible to ignore it. The music relies on the dynamism and distinct voice that Batth brings to the table. With a wide range of influences from the ‘90s folk and punk, the music is a soulful delight.
Sikkim-origin singer-songwriter Anoushka Maskey, like many, made her debut EP during the Coronavirus lockdown. Her debut EP Things I Saw In A Dream has seven tracks and explores themes of appreciating the little things life has to offer as well as the human experience. The artist’s folk and acoustic sound are harmonious with her touching lyrics. Things I Saw In A Dream was released in August 2020 and was followed by the release of her four-track EP C.E.A.S.E in August. In her Instagram post, the artist revealed her intention behind C.E.A.S.E, “The EP draws focus on humankind’s sorry dispositions, in that no matter what we do, nothing can save us from the doom we built for ourselves.” The idea is inspired by Last Of Us – an action-adventure game.
You can hear her music, here.
Mumbai-based singer Banat’s sound has evolved from her debut EP Moon which had a laidback sound with an easy melody and simple lyrics to it to her latest EP released in July 2020. Her latest EP Flish has a ballroomy ring to it with a larger emphasis on the storytelling aspect and the deliverance of that. Most songs on the EP are played on keys rather than her guitar which adds an interesting element along with her fragment and hushed singing at certain parts that adds to the drama of the song and gives it an interesting sound. Banat’s experimental streak is what keeps people coming back for more.
You can listen to her music, here.
Mahima Dayal Mathur who plays under the moniker of Bawari Basanti is a New Delhi-based Hindustani classical music and folk music singer. The artist is best known for her powerful and evocative vocals that have the ability to bring out one’s emotions. Couple that with her immense knowledge of classical music and you have an artist you want to keep coming back to. In an interview with Eshe, the artist said that music “is more therapeutic than we give it credit for. As a recording artist, you are constantly fixing your emotions with every delivery. So, you have to blindly feel your way between the obvious emotions and then produce a feeling sonically.”
You can explore her music, here.
When I heard Dot’s Everybody Dances To Techno for the first time, I played it for days on loop. Even if you haven’t had the chance to pay much attention to what Dot. is up to, you must have heard her song on Netflix Valentine’s Day Special Trailer in 2019. Dot.’s sound is unique and has a niche of its own. To box her into a genre is a disservice to her esoteric compositions. Her youtube channel is filled with her own compositions with topics ranging from anecdotes like the song Asymmetrical which is about Mrs Pearson’s Psychology class where she learnt that the biology criterion to attractiveness is the symmetrical face (she said that love and attraction are just chemical reactions in the brain/ we like our lovers to be with symmetry just perfectly written on the face) to her song Wes Anderson which sounds like much like the title suggests like a scene out of Wes Anderson’s film (I’m at an old-timey carnival, I won the buffalo prize).
You can checkout more of Dot. here.
For Mangalore and Bengaluru-based singer-songwriter Frizzell D’Souza, her journey into the Indian indie music scene started by posting covers of various songs on her Instagram and YouTube channel. It was only during the lockdown in March that a conversation with a friend sparked the idea of making a song around the idea of ‘Something New.’ Hence her debut single New was born, the song revolves around the theme of a relationship that has lost spark and become monotonous over time. The song delves into the genre of blues that is a seamless fit for D’Souza’s melodious voice.
You can hear New, here.
What sets Bhambri apart from her contemporaries is her ability to be completely vulnerable. Her poignant lyricism goes well with her sweet and melodious voice. For those unfamiliar with Bhambri’s music, the best way to describe it is its ability to tap into the recesses of your mind and heart and make you feel the intensity of the emotions she feels. Her songs, though touching upon melancholy, have the ability to leave one hopeful.
You can explore more of her music, here.
Delhi-based singer-songwriter Kamakshi Khanna is well known within the indie circuit and has performed at popular music festivals like NH7 Weekender, VH1 Supersonic and Kausauli’s Rhythm N Blues Festival amongst others. Her songs are vulnerable and raw, drawing inspiration from her lived experiences. Her sound cannot be categorised into a single genre as it reflects the various jazz, blues, pop and Hindustani classical influences that inspire Kamakshi.
You can hear her versatile musical repertoire here.
Ambika Nayak who plays by the name of Kayan.a is a Mumbai-based singer, recording artist and DJ. She is a part of two acts, both that have garnered attention and played at various popular events. So far, she has performed her first act, ‘Kimochi Youkai’ at NH7 Weekender, The Royal Opera House and The Little Door to name a few. Her RnB soul textured voice lends a textured and layered touch to the 5 member band set. Her second act with Nimrit Shah is called ‘Nothing Anonymous’. They have performed at NH7 Weekender, opened for Probono at VH1 Supersonic and played at Sula Fest to name a few. ‘Nothing Anonymous’ delves into genres of electronic music with dreamy synth, a chill vibe, and laidback vocals quite different to her other act. Her diverse music repertoire is proof that she is here to stay.
You can checkout Nothing Anonymous’ latest single, here.
Mumbai-bred singer-songwriter Aashna Gulabani goes by the stage moniker ‘Kovsky’ which is inspired by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky whom she admires deeply. Her songs deal with tough conversations like mental health and substance abuse. In an interview with Homegrown, she mentioned the motivation behind her creative process, “Growing up, all I wanted was to be able to make music to express myself better. While my taste and approach towards music have progressed from when I was younger, my creative direction is still the same.” Her latest lo-fi single, Lovesick is an ode to anime and coming-of-age indie films.
You can hear Kovsky’s latest Lovesick, here.
After performing covers of songs on her Instagram and YouTube, New-Delhi based singer-songwriter Maaya Mattoo has started releasing her own original compositions. She has released two songs so far. The first has a ballad-type sound to it and is called ‘Some Days’ and the other, ‘Blue Over You’ is more RnB, pop with groovy and catchy music. Mattoo experiments with different genres and her infectious music is sure to make you come back for more.
You can hear Blue Over You, here.
For Chennai-based singer-songwriter, Nitika Kurain, her Instagram covers of various songs, as well as her own songs, has helped gain a loyal following. Her RnB soul sound is both soothing and evocative and has the ability to stay with you long after you’ve left the song. Her debut single, Phoenix was both emotional and rebellious. In an interview with The Hindu, Kurian talked about her musical sensibility saying “R&B, jazz, and blues are in my blood [ but] I would like to experiment as much as possible, maybe collaborate with a few of the rappers in the city.” We can’t wait to see what more she has to offer.
You can find her music, here.
Mumbai-based singer-songwriter Ramya Pothuri is a seasoned fingerstyle guitarist. Her music has a chamber-pop ballad sensibility to it with Pothuri’s vocals adding a sense of dramatic, smoky, and atmospheric aesthetic to it. Her songs are at once sorrowful and beautiful and are fragile offerings that touch the heart.
You can listen to her songs, here.
Pune based singer-songwriter Rayna writes songs that revolve around the theme of adulthood, of what it means to find your footing in the world, the complexities of it and the struggles it brings with it. She regularly performs the songs she writes on her Instagram account. Her songs performed in her room, have a sense of intimacy to them that complement the lyrics of her songs thus adding to the lo-fi aesthetic. We can’t wait for her debut EP Of Fantaseas and Realiteas set to release this year.
You can hear her original songs, here.
Bengaluru-based artist Rudy Mukta is proof that music can be produced within the walls of your bedroom and without any fancy equipment. Mukta’s debut single Funny and debut album Entropy were both produced during the lockdown on a friend’s borrowed iPad. The artist’s bedroom pop music is a testament to her vox and production skills; the scratchy sound coupled with her sassy sound is unlike any other in the industry.
You can hear her music here.
New Delhi-based singer-songwriter Tanya Nambiar has one too many talents. In a world where we are constantly encouraged to have side hustles, the artist has managed to be a musician, a voiceover artist, and an entrepreneur for El Diablo Sauces. What sets her apart is the fact that her sound cannot be boxed down. Her EP Good Girls Gone was a blend between rock n roll, blues, pop and jazz. Latest in her list are singles Stranger in Our Bed and Midnight Sun that delve into the terrains of electro-pop. Her music is a balance between clever melodies and her ability to tell stories that comprise of striking characters.
You can listen to her latest track–Midnight Sun here.
Delhi-based singer-songwriter Tanmaya Bhatnagar is best known for the simplicity in her lyrics that are able to connect with her audience. The artist’s honest lyricism coupled with their gentle strumming of the guitar makes for a soulful rendition that is able to enrapture her audience. She has been quite candid in the past about her musical journey which she traces back to her mother. Tanmaya’s debut single Kya Tum Naraz Ho? is about separation from a loved one and the inner monologue one has when one isn’t offered any apologies.
You can hear her debut single here.
Zoe Siddharth came into the limelight with her stint at The Stage (season 03) – India’s only English singing competition. Since then she has managed to amass a strong following on her Instagram and YouTube channels. As a multigenre artist, she dabbles across sounds from indie to pop to RnB. She recently released her debut single, a soulful ballad named Human which is an ode to the people in one’s lives that help them get through tough phases and serve as reminders of what makes each of us human.
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