8 Fusion Artists You Need to Add to Your Playlist
These musicians are slowly shattering the misconceptions around Indian fusion
Mumbai-based musician Dhruv Ghanekar is an acclaimed guitarist and composer. In addition to his solo work, Ghanekar has recorded for the likes of tabla maestro Zakir Hussain and composer A.R. Rahman. Ghanekar is known for exploring world music sounds and combining Hindustani classical with Indian folk, jazz, soul and pop.
While the Mumbai-based singer-songwriter is best known for her Bollywood songs, her more recent ventures into hip-hop fusion make her stand apart from her peers. Her collaborations with fusion poster boy Karsh Kale and rappers Hard Kaur and Shah Rule (“Jogi”) break the boundaries of where desi hip-hop and R&B can go.
A graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, this New York-based Indian guitarist and composer released his debut album Hmayra last year and fuses classical Indian music with jazz, neo-soul, pop and rock. Saran credits his love for artists like Rahman and fusion rock bands Advaita and Indian Ocean melding with his exposure to Western music for his unique instrumentation.
Vocalist Isheeta Chakrvarty and her band the Isheeta Chakrvarty Collective blend Hindustani classical and qawwali with jazz and neo-soul. Their recent track “Sawan Ki Ritu” is a jazz-heavy and soulful take on the traditional thumri of the same name made famous by Hindustani classical singer Shobha Gurtu.
Mumbai based classical fusion band Bombay Bandook specialize in blending alt and indie rock with Hindustani classical ragas. “Tilak” is based off of the raag “Bhimpalasi,” while their other singles like “Ritu Rani” have built their foundations through raag “Malhar” and more.
While Mumbai-based singer Vibha Saraf is best-known for her acoustic folk/Sufi leanings and a few Bollywood songs, her more recent ventures have seen her tie-up with desi bass king Nucleya to push Indian EDM into new pop territories. Saraf has written and features on two singles with the DJ, “Dhoop” and “Behka” from the upcoming Bollywood film High Jack.
Sukanti & Anushree
Electro-acoustic duo Sukanti & Anushree make a powerful case for the preservation and interpretation of folk music. Their 2015 sophomore album Centurion Relay saw them revisit some of the most popular folk songs from North and East India and give them a jazz or rock reinvention. “Damadam Mast Kalandar” is an improvisational jazz-leaning track while “Shundori Komola” is a feisty rock anthem with ample distortion guitars.
Mumbai-based prog-fusion outfit Paradigm Shift are known for blending prog metal-esque riffwork with Hindustani classical vocals and Carnatic violin. Their 2016 single “Banjaara” was especially powerful, highlighting not only the band’s ability to blend several genres, but also each member’s individual talents through several detailed solos.