Jwala Shine On
How a young collective of bedroom music producers are providing a platform for India’s growing electronic music scene
Beyond memes and pornography, turns out young kids would like to get on the Internet to find a way to make music. With digital audio workstations ripped and cracked, hundreds of hours of YouTube tutorials and sometimes, access to free samples and beats, bedroom producers have infused a much-needed quality in alternative/electronic music that was dangerously close to becoming generic.
Part of the pack and among the most prolific are Jwala, comprising seven artists from Pune, Mumbai and New Delhi. What brings them all together? Mumbai-based Brij Dalvi aka zzz and part of Three Oscillators, says, “Memes? Rants? The fact that we all get little to no sleep? Somewhere in between all this lies the answer.” Nikunj Patel aka Moebius also adds, “A healthy dose of not giving a fuck for the most part.” Jwala did seem to take root due to what they saw around them. New Delhi-based Ayush Jajoria says, “The first thing that bounded us together to make a collective together that and our cohesive distress of the way the scene works.”
While they’ve all made the transition from raking in SoundCloud plays to taking to the stage for a live set, Jwala’s main focus is their monthly compilation/mixtape featuring tracks by new, often unheard talent from India as well as members from the collective. Apurv Agarwal aka Cowboy and Sailor Man says, “Recently we’ve started planning our compilations a bit differently—coming up with a theme, getting in touch with artists well in advance, trying to get people to collaborate.”
Palash Kothari, who produces music under the moniker Sparkle & Fade, adds, “We’re also really lucky to have people send us amazing music all the time so we don’t really have to go hunting so much.” With a constantly active inbox full of music, they released six compilations to date, covering ambient, chillwave, hip-hop, J-trap (thanks to Pune-based co-founder and producer Karan Kanchan) and even singer-songwriter tunes.
Most members of the group—including 16-year-old Veer Kowli aka Chrms—have had the chance to perform at the same gig. Kothari recalls last August when everyone made it to an edition of artist management agency REProduce’s Listening Room gig series. “We played a gig together in Bandra, it rained heavily and nobody showed up, but hey, we had fun!” While Jajoria was down in Mumbai for the show, the only person missing out was Patel, who couldn’t make it to the gig.
With all members of the collective taking up shows every now and then, Jwala are not in this to see the compilation or their venture give them monetary gains. Reach, on the other hand, in this internet age of boosting posts and paid promotions, is definitely a concern for the collective. Patel says, “Right now first concern is discovery. Money will follow soon enough. Consistent representation and discovery is first.”
Jwala are already on their way to becoming among the most reliable sources of new music, even if they end up having an affinity for chill, electronic tunes. They do plan on expanding out of that, though. Dalvi outlines that in the coming months, they have ideas for “genre-specific compilations to switch things up.” He adds, “There are loose talks of having producer meet ups. We did one in Goa and it was amazing, and we’d love to do them in more places in the future.”
Agarwal also adds that there might be a full-length album, featuring all the members of the collective pitching in tracks. “It might actually come to fruition next year,” he adds.
This article appeared in the December 2017 issue of Rolling Stone India. Listen to Jwala below.