Beyond the Border: Hip-Hop from Australia, R&B from Sri Lanka, Electronic and More
We check out artists such as L-Fresh The Lion in Australia, Sri Lankan singer-songwriter Q and British-Asian Arzutra Garielle, amongst others
L-Fresh the Lion
Based out of South West Sydney, hip-hop artist and producer L-Fresh The Lion aka Sukhdeep Singh is in a celebratory mood on his latest video “Village Boy.” Shot in the village of Bhagwanpur before the pandemic, the song is another solid delivery from the Australian-Punjabi artist who’s been in the game for more than a decade, with three albums to his name, a collab with hip-hop heavyweight KRS-ONE and supporting Nas on his Australia tour in 2009. Now, L-Fresh is making more fans in India as well, digging into roots on the song off his 2020 album South West. “I wanted to draw some parallels between the village life that shaped my parents and the values I learnt growing up in Western Sydney. With the video, I wanted to create something that would make people feel the same joy and love I have for Punjab,” he says.
In a commanding voice that also offers solace and calm, Sri Lankan artist Q aka Francesca Mudannayake’s debut EP Hysteria is everything you want to hear in music of empowerment. Her song “Took It To The River,” produced by Dinuka Jaysooriya and accompanied with a slick music video, ponders a friends-with-benefits situation, being both bold and vulnerable at once. A jazz, soul and R&B singer in London at one point, Q explores quickfire rap on “100K” over a beat by Murandu, and sexy funk on the aptly titled “After Midnight.” The artist describers her EP as one that “offers a space for women to both exert strength and be as messy as they wish, contradicting the two-dimensional stereotypes peddled to women throughout history.”
Mirroring a perspective of frustration, resignation and stagnation that the pandemic has brought about, New Delhi-origin, Valencia-based producer OQLRR aka Sparsh Narang is menacing and fluid with his electronic music project. Singles such as “Pipe Dreams,” “Pause,” “Goya” and “Isolation” have been released throughout 2020, with one last piece of the EP Born In Quarantine – “A Night In Oven” – due later this year. With an eye on audio/visual production, OQLRR has also released videos for each track.
Mumbai/New York producer Nakul Sharma aka Davesar has previously established himself as part of alternative/electronic duo Burudu, but his solo project has been making slow and steady progress. His second single, “Lost To No One” features Dutch-South African artist Bella Human, also based in New York City. The result is a dancey, club-friendly track that also carries emotional weight, even if it’s with Bella Human’s pop hooks. Sharma adds in a statement, “Affairs of the heart are no simple matter. ‘Lost to No One’ chronicles a relationship with a partner who engaged in romance the same way a soldier sprints across a battlefield – always a fight to win or to lose. This song disintegrates the illusion of battle, and subsequently all terminology of losing / winning – instead there has been nothing gained other than sober growth and determined compassion to the self.”
Releasing two albums within the span of a year, London-bred singer Arzutra Garielle might come across as someone a bit removed from Hindi music on paper, but she had her debut album Woh Pal produced by Atif Ali. Now, the second album Tumhaari builds on romantic Hindi pop, with Ali returning as producer, alongside DJ Shadow Dubai, who chips in with two roomy electronic remixes of Garielle’s most popular tracks, “Tumhaari” and “Woh Pal.”