Beyond the Border: Indians Abroad and Desi Artists Making EDM, Emo-Pop, R&B and More
This month, we check out music from Washington D.C.-based Anjali Taneja, London-based Sid, singer Akshara, trans desi artist Flora, New Zealand-based producer Majin and Atlanta-based hip-hop artist Doperman
Based in Queenstown, New Zealand, Indian producer Majin aka Mohit Wadhwa has been releasing music since 2017. His latest track, “Batein” crosses geographies on an even bigger scale, laying out bumping EDM for Montreal, Canada-based vocalist Soul aka Solange Davalos’ sublime pop croon. While “Batein” also features an opening hook in Hindi from Majin, his previous releases have traversed hip-hop (“Gidda”) as well as can’t-fail dancefloor bangers such as “Make It There” and “Ocean of Cries.”
Studying music, sound and technology in London, Mumbai-bred singer-producer Sid gets meta on “Bridges,” the affable electronic pop tune that’s also the title track of his newest three-track EP. The 18-year-old’s music is informed by frontrunners such as Lauv and Ed Sheeran, and he adeptly follows in their style of bright music which often confronts negative feelings. He sings about wanting to figure things out on “Connections,” and turns to reverb-drenched, morose piano melodies as the starting point for “Fire.” The five and a half minute song is perhaps a reflection of how far the artist can go, letting go of certain pop conventions like length but retaining formidable songwriting skills.
Dallas-based singer-songwriter Akshara Parashar is one amongst several Indian-origin artists who balance their multicultural identity with subtlety in their music. Releasing singles since 2018, including one of the most popular songs “Edges,” Akshara recently put out a tropical bass-inflected pop song called “Find Me” last month. By the final minute of the track, however, there’s seemingly Indian classical-informed wordless vocal harmonies worked in to the mix. Also contributing Hindi-English vocals to composer Sagar Dhote’s 2019 song “Kya Kahoon,” Akshara was also part of the A.R. Rahman-composed soundtrack for sports flick Bigil in 2019, singing on “Maathare.”
Washington D.C. born and raised, Anjali Taneja has been steadily releasing and showcasing her modern R&B sound with songs off her untitled EP. Following powerful singles such as “Golden Linings” and “My Side” in 2020, Taneja’s final drop is “Paradise,” produced with help from the likes of Mars Today and Blake Straus. The breezy R&B/pop song has all the makings of a hit, as she sings unflinchingly about grappling with a complicated relationship with someone who’s also a musician.
Atlanta-based, Gurugram-bred hip-hop artist Doperman aka Ritik Chandna ticks most of the boxes when it comes to versatile, contemporary rappers. Working with the likes of Ranchi rapper-producer Tre Ess (Doperman featured on Sipping Off Troubled Waters last year), his first mixtape Isodope came out in 2018. With a steady run of singles, Doperman most recently returned to collab with Tre Ess for the shapeshifting new song “Shade,” which released in January. In addition to morose guitar lines and a roomy beat, the song delves intentionally into abstract lyrics about a possible partner and a past relationship, making Doperman an intriguing wordsmith to watch out for.
Trans desi artist Flora, based out of Los Angeles – and part of indie rock band The Blank Minds – goes solo with their debut single “Something,” unraveling a tender yet hopeful plea for a sign even at their lowest. With the accompanying DIY music video, Flora clearly makes the most of beaches and water bodies in and around the Los Angeles area, even as they channel vulnerable emo-rock of the early 2000s with a spirited hook over cheery guitars.