10 Budding Women Artists You Need To Hear (Part Two)
They’re playing festivals, releasing records and generally breaking stereotypes. Here are some promising artists we’re digging right now
Pavithra Chari (New Delhi):
If you think Pavithra Chari makes an impressive Hindustani classical vocalist, just wait to watch her scat like a pro. Whether it is folk, funk, pop or jazz, genre-hopping has become second nature to this young singer from New Delhi who refuses to be labeled basis her choice of music or gender. As part of one of the city’s most inventive fusion acts, Shadow and Light, Chari is one of the handful of women artists in India that are pushing traditional music into some really exciting spaces. “Access to opportunities was an issue a while ago but I don’t think that exists anymore,” says Chari about being a rising independent artist. “And it’s so refreshing to see some kick-ass women breaking out of these categories.” Chari’s recent solo achievements include a collaboration with Indian-American multi-instrumentalist Karsh Kale on his upcoming album and a scholarship by Sahitya Kala Parishad for Hindustani classical music. Chari is currently working on Shadow and Light’s third album with her music partner Anindo Bose. Listen here.
Ramya Pothuri (Mumbai):
Twenty-year-old Ramya Pothuri might have moved from her hometown St. Louis in the U.S. to Mumbai only three years ago but she’s got loads going for her already. The balmy-voiced singer-songwriter released her debut EP We Never Left last year and organized a string of house gigs titled The Living Room Tour to promote the record. The past few months also saw her playing sets at a host of festivals around the country. Come April the young musician will set out on her first international tour to Sri Lanka. Says Pothuri, “This will be really exciting. I feel like travelling to perform is the best way to travel, and it’s so rewarding.” Listen here.
When Kalyaani Sakkarwal quit her corporate job and moved to Mumbai two years ago, the singer-songwriter knew exactly what lay ahead of her—a bouquet of songs and a pile of struggle. Armed with only an acoustic guitar, the indie musician dove right into the deep end of the indie music pool and began writing material and gigging alongside. A sort of protest musician in her own right—in her bluesy, gritty tunes, she is constantly fighting her dilemmas and desires—Kalyaani is a rising voice to watch out for.
It would be an understatement to say that all her professional risks seem to have paid off—she has to her name a genre-spanning range of collabs (with everybody from Hindi rockers Daira and hip-hop collective Swadesi to singer-songwriter Vasuda Sharma and even tribal musicians), a single and a fresh-off-the oven debut album that is almost ready for release. Does she miss her corporate job now? “Not at all, but yeah, money wasn’t really an issue when I had that job” jokes Kalyaani, who goes by her first name on stage. She adds, “My efforts have paid off in so many other ways–on both human and creative levels.” Listen here.
L’nee Golay (Bengaluru):
If there’s one new voice on the circuit that can make the regular chatterbox crowd prick up their ears, it’s Bengaluru-based teenager L’nee Golay. Even if she’s earned her name performing covers of her inspirations at gigs and festivals so far, Golay’s remarkable vocal range stands out like few others and is reminiscent of the likes of Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse and Aretha Franklin. Her live set features her father, guitarist Raj Golay, and she has also collaborated with the city-based alt rock band Mad Orange Fireworks in the past. Currently, she is writing her own material. Listen here.
Although she always kind of knew it, it was only after Saachi Rajadhyaksha enrolled at Boston’s Berklee College of Music for a five-week summer course last year that she fully realized music was indeed her true calling. The 18-year-old emerging singer-songwriter (who goes by her first name on stage) from Mumbai might not have a ton of original material to boast of but her covers of popular songs have fetched her a decent social media following. Rajadhyaksha, who counts young pop icons like Ed Sheeran and Alessia Cara as her influences, also got a chance to open for reggae veteran Shaggy in Mumbai last year. She plans on releasing her debut EP Clarity later this year. The record fittingly chronicles all the experiences that finally led her to pursue music. Listen here.
Andrea Tariang (Shillong):
Don’t make the mistake of writing Andrea Tariang off as the girl who appeared in Pink. Though she had a supporting role in the 2016 film and is open to the possibility of future acting gigs, the 24-year-old is first and foremost a musician. “[Pink] happened out of the blue and I never thought I would be acting,” says Tariang. “But I stuck to my music even then.” When she recently hit the stage with keyboardist Karan Joseph, a.k.a. Madfingers, for a mesmerizing cover of “Nakamarra” by Hiatus Kaiyote, all eyes turned to the poised singer. Tariang was raised in Shillong by a family of musicians (her father Rudy Wallang is the vocalist/guitarist in Soulmate), but moved to Mumbai in 2015 to pursue a career in makeup. When that didn’t work out, she began singing with Joseph, who she’d met while she was in Shillong. “We hit it off instantly and started jamming,” says Tariang, who has been working on writing songs with Joseph, which she intends to release later this year. Listen here.
Aarifah Rebello (Mumbai):
Aarifah Rebello is incredibly introverted, a fact that completely belies the 23-year-old singer-songwriter’s easy confidence as soon as she gets on stage. Aside from her solo project where she sings and plays guitar, Rebello plays the drums for three different bands: folk outfit Lawntuba, blues/funk trio Nookie Jar, and alt-rock band The Bassic. Right now, she’s working on her debut EP, Hey, Good Evening!, which is set to release later this year. Don’t let her gentle coos and dulcet strumming fool you: Rebello knows what she wants, and she won’t stop until she gets it. “I am driven and hard-working, I know what I want,” says Rebello. “I’m that kind of person who wants to do everything she can.” Listen here.
Banat Kaur Bagga is only 22 but she is certain she’s past her “rebellious self.” Apparently, some time ago, the Mumbai-based singer-songwriter grew tired of regular acoustic music and took up a sort of back-to-roots study of sufi and Punjabi folk songs—the music that she had been avoiding for a long time. “I had developed an aversion of sorts to anything culture-related because I was busy being my rebellious self. But at this confused juncture when I decided to revisit my roots, I realized that sometimes it only takes to understand what makes you, to understand yourself. I’ve always been doing Punjabi folk and sufi music and would love to continue to do the same for some uninterrupted inspiration from all peripheries of my interests,” says Bagga, who uses her first name on stage. As much as she loves her folk, she also digs the dark despair of prog musicians such as Steven Wilson and Karnivool. While she’s done plenty of covers, she’s finally recording and releasing her own material – this time, channeling everything from Jeff Buckley to Yann Tiersen on “Moon.” There’s no running short of influences for Banat. Listen here.
Riya Duggal and Simran Duggal (Mumbai):
With their perfect vocal harmonies and cheerful stage presence, Riya and Simran Duggal make a fine singer-songwriter sister duo. The siblings are part of two bands—the alt rocker outfit Twisted Paradox and their own pop-rock project Simetri. Last year, the Duggal duo also lent their voice to background scores for films like Kapoor & Sons and Baar Baar Dekho. Their ad jingle repertoire isn’t bad either; they’ve sung ditties for Kindle and Cadbury Silk Oreo (remember the luscious “Kiss me” song) and other brands. Simetri will be releasing their debut single “I’m Not Giving Up On You” later this year. Listen here.
The Bassic (Mumbai):
Formed in 2015, Mumbai-based band The Bassic are determined to make a mark on the rock scene in India and erase the gimmicky ‘all-girl band’ label. “It’s so important to get the stereotypical ‘girl’ out of our heads and put ourselves out there,” says frontwoman Alezzandra Rodi, lamenting the abysmally low number of women instrumentalists in the country. “There aren’t that many female drummers, bassists or lead guitarists around.” The band love to cover Radiohead and the Arctic Monkeys and if their two original songs are anything to go by, The Bassic display some mean alt rock chops. But finding their sound hasn’t made the struggle any easier. “We’ve been demotivated by so many people who said, ‘You’re in India, this music won’t work’,” says Rodi, adding that the best way to deal with naysayers is to ignore them. “Once we shut these people out and focused on what we love and what we want, we just kept going strong.” The band comprises Sianna Gomes (lead guitar), Brunelle Jade(bass), Rodi (guitar and vocals) and Aarifah Rebello (drums) and plan to release a single this year, followed an EP in early 2018. Listen here.
Check out 10 Budding Women Artists You Need To Hear (Part One) here.