Beyond the Border: Evocative Rock from Nepal, Left-Field Electronic from Pakistan and More
This month, we shine a light on America’s rising diaspora star Curtis Waters, British-Indian composer Deepa Nair Rasiya and Indo-Canadian hip-hop artist Morethanray, amongst others
Deepa Nair Rasiya
Part of the recording and performing circuit in India and Europe for nearly three decades, London-born vocalist Deepa Nair Rasiya employs classical and contemporary hues on her latest song “Thakur Tum Saranai Aaya,” which also serves as a tribute to the Sikh tradition she imbued from family. The sublime song takes lyrics by Guru Arjan Dev and is produced by Mumbai’s veteran man behind the console, K.J. Singh. Released via Asli Music, Rasiya is at her soulful best, much like her 2015 album Destination, whose lyrics drew from India’s mystic poets and saints.
Kathmandu, Nepal-based singer-songwriter and rock artist Abhishek S. Mishra started his project ASM sometime in 2016 as a solo outing and it soon branched into a band by 2018. While their debut album ASM – I was scheduled for release in March, the pandemic has clearly pushed plans back a bit. Earlier this month, ASM released “Anubhav,” a nine-minute song that leads with a powerful flute movement courtesy of flautist Kiran Baral. Positioned as a love song, ASM has previously released “Samay Ko Bato” and compiled a collection of tunes into Blue Dawn EP earlier this year. ASM – I is now expected to release later this year.
Wooly and the Uke
Comprising Pakistani-origin and Berlin-based artist Janat Sohail Aziz and what she describes as “a grizzly monster,” Wooly and the Uke started out in 2016 and saw the release of her debut single “Circus” in 2017. Mining experiences of disconnection and satire, the project’s latest song “Circle In a Circle” heaps in industrial and electronic music on the production front (courtesy of New York’s Sofia Dominguez), while a video directed by Larissa Franz sees Aziz in the throes of some existential angst. Previously part of Pakistan video performance series Nescafe Basement’s first all-female ensemble (simply called The All Girl Band), Aziz is currently repping Pakistan in Germany after clinching the Goethe Talents Pop-Kultur Scholarship this year.
Montreal-bred hip-hop artist Morethanray aka Rahul Singh released his first mixtape in 2011 and following a stint at the Chicago Recording Company, he introduced his first single “Gone” under the moniker Reyn in July last year, which was produced by Los Angeles/New Delhi beatsmith Iconyk aka Nikhil Malik. Now performing under the name Morethanray, his second collab with Iconyk is a glimmering song called “Vibes,” which draws from old-school hip-hop but also offers a distinct flow that includes references to Kanye West as well as Childish Gambino. In the song, the rapper shows off a balance between his own growth story and how he’s brushing off haters.
You’d have to be living under a rock or over 30 (or both) if you haven’t heard of Kathmandu-born, North Carolina-based artist Curtis Waters yet. His debut single “Stunnin’” is fabulous in all its explicitness and became a TikTok-aided viral hit in April and May, featuring fellow pop artist Harm Franklin. There might be references to comedy hit Superbad character McLovin’ and videogame character Sonic the Hedgehog, but Waters (real name Abhinav Bastakoti) also sings, “Young Bollywood get gassed up/Get rich quick, big bags yeah, I’m cashed up.” The 20-year-old has was brought up not just in Kathmandu, but also India (although he hasn’t mentioned which city), Germany and Canada. Waters has quickly followed up with a couple more singles like “System” and “The feelings tend to stay the same,” which signify a budding songwriter whose verses breathe conviction.