Duos and creative partnerships have been a mainstay across global popular music for the better part of the last century. No two duos are ever the same and it's always a delicate balance of chemistry, personal quirks, artistic ability, and individual drive and tenacity that determines the success of musical partnerships.
RANJ X CLIFR are a homegrown duo who appear to be on a mission to show the world just how well their individual talents compliment one another. From making music together in a college band to opening stages at global festivals across the world, they're blazing a trail for their contemporaries that's marked by genuine understanding and an appreciation for what each of them contributes to their sound. They've also been able to leverage the opportunities given to them by initiatives such as BudX Uncovered. BudX Uncovered represents Budweiser's commitment to giving local talent a platform to share the stage with global icons. It aims to give an equal platform to the tenacity, talent, and artistry of erstwhile 'undiscovered' acts across stages otherwise occupied by global music titans.
Ahead of their debut on the BudX Stage at the 2024 edition of Lollapalooza India, we caught up with them to learn a little more about their art, their influences, and how they see their music evolving over the next few years.
Both of you come from very diverse musical backgrounds. Could you talk a little about how you first started working together? Was it ever a struggle to amalgamate your tastes and influences or has it always been relatively easy and seamless?
Ranj: Clifr and I both met in college when we were studying music in Christ. We started a band together called Kelvikkuri - it’s a Carnatic jazz fusion band – which was a display of where we came from and what we were into at that time; that’s how we started working together. During the lockdown, we started making other music together and Clifr got into beat-making more seriously. I think that it is so nice that we had such different influences because it made us unique. Also, as we’ve been working together, I share a lot of music that has influenced me with Clifr and the music that I currently like, and he does the same with me; that’s how we start developing a taste for what the other person likes. So, it has always been a seamless thing for me.
What are some of the elements that you believe define the RANJ X CLIFR ‘sound’? What are some compositional or thematic elements that you believe you’ve made your signature as a duo? Who are some artists, duos or bands that you believe have shaped this sound?
Clifr: For our sound we mainly like to explore a lot of the R&B space, and a lot of the hip-hop and rapping space. Our sound particularly has a lot of drum fills; I try to experiment with a lot of different drum sounds. And when it comes to RANJ she always has different forms of vocal processing going on and different flows. She keeps switching between rapping and singing. Mainly we both have a wide range of influences coming from R&B- like Pharrell & Beyonce, funk bands like Vulfpeck, a lot of hip hop, J Dilla etc.
Ranj: Also, church music, Carnatic, film music from when we were growing up - works its way into the music. Slowly, as we find our own sound, it just keeps showing up.
Clifr: And every song is different; its constantly evolving.
What are some idiosyncrasies that you’ve noticed in each other as you’ve evolved as creatives? Ranj, what about Clifr impresses you the most while collaborating? Clifr, what do you think Ranj’s greatest strength is as a musician?
Ranj: I think that Clifr always has just something unique; the second I hear it I feel a strong emotion. I feel like he is very emotional when creating music which I really enjoy! It gives me an idea that somehow helps me to express something that I haven’t addressed to myself, that I really need to talk about.
Clifr: I think RANJ is very good with words, versatility, and melodic things. So, these three things put together – she can convey whatever she wants in the most creative way with different versatile flows. Good words and melodies are a strong weapon to have, so I think that makes up for RANJ’s strength. I think that brings everything together at the end and finishes something as a great song.
What’s your favourite part about working with each other?
Ranj: I think for me it is always a challenge. It is never like, “okay we’ve done this, and we are going to do the same thing but in a different way” – it is never that. It is always like I hear a beat that’s like miles ahead or just in a completely different world – so I have to up my game, I have to do justice to that. That’s what I really like.
Clifr: When it comes to both of us working, whatever task we set out to do, we get it done. I feel like anything is possible when we are trying it together. That’s the most motivating part about trying out new things; you know it is going to end up somewhere nice.
Could you talk about the best show you’ve played so far and why it meant so much to you?
Clifr: NH7 Weekender was our first festival debut with a full-blown band and dancers. It was one of the best shows we had ever played.
Ranj: Our dream would be to do that again and again. Like we had the best of everything. We had the best band, the best dancers, the best team, it was just amazing! I love that we invested so much, and we showed the world what we can do. And in that sense, our performance at Lollapalooza India 2024 would be an equal favourite for me. Playing at the BudX stage, which is headlined by iconic artists like Sting, Keane, and the Jonas brothers is such a phenomenal opportunity. I feel glad to be a part of an initiative so novel as BudX Uncovered, that is spotlighting talent on a global platform.
You can follow Cliffr x RANJ here.
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