Beyond the Border: Queer Punk from Los Angeles, Hip-Hop, Rock and Indie Pop from Indians Abroad
We round up the latest from Mirrored Fatality, Sri Lankan artist Dylan Perera, rock artist Zubin, hip-hop group Shilla 050
Based out of Los Angeles, the duo of Bangladeshi/Pakistani origin Samar and Pipilpinx (Filipino diaspora who identify as trans/non-binary) Mango Gwen are repping QTPOC punk in a raw and intensely engaging format. Their debut EP Cocoon Webs has been described by them as an “experimental-healing punk.” While the opening track “Bloom” is meandering and liberating in its lyrical intent, Samar and Mango quickly take the route of noisy, unpredictable yet cathartic sounds with “Invalidation” and expound on injustices inflicted upon the people of Kashmir on “Utopia.” In their eerie chorused delivery of lyrics and bursts of charged up noise-punk, Mirrored Fatality also address pollution on multiple levels, invoking a spiritual atmosphere.
Once part of metal bands such as Spleen Saint as far back as 2004, Colombo-based guitarist and vocalist Dylan Perera has slowly expanded his musical identity into that of a singer-songwriter. His latest releases from 2020, “Pass” and “Athmarthakami Adare” are moody, bluesy rock offerings that also flitter between Sinhala and English. In a 2019 interview, the artist hinted towards putting out an EP called Scenic Route to Melancholy, but it’s likely still a work in progress, although we’ve heard a sparkling, formidable start to Perera’s solo releases so far.
Bengaluru-origin producer Rishon Bondal found likeminded friends in Nigerian artist Ahdeesa aka Samson Balogun and California-based Nico Holloman to form Mutations as a trio in London in 2018. With their debut album Mutations 01 that released in June last year, there’s seriously dexterous, genre-fluid experiments that are loud and heavy, proclaimed to be a result of “DIY punk ethos fueled sonic and artistic exploration.” With tracks such as “Road To Riches,” “Sub Party” and “Always,” the trio go from bangers to dreamy R&B/hip-hop.
New Delhi/Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Zubin Mitra (who goes by his first name) offers up unadulterated pop-rock on his debut EP It Wasn’t Built To Last, Pt. 1. Although partly cheesy (as is the case often with pop-rock), Zubin sings about bittersweet goodbyes (“Promise Me”) and other ballad-style tunes across four tracks, with the exception of the adrenaline-charged hard rock song “Play With Yourself.” It’s a total throwback to late Nineties and early 2000s alt rock as well, enhanced by producer Aashish Mandhwani (from rock groups like Fire Exit and MindFlew) and the drum and bass rhythm combo of Suyash Gabriel and Amar Pandey.
Dubai-based, Indian-origin hip-hop crew Shilla 050 make a hefty statement with their new track “FTB,” which stands for “Fuck the Borders.” Featuring U.A.E.-based rappers Vikyath Poojary and Rudolph Poojary aka R3p, plus young producer Inzen, the group calls on Mumbai-based rapper Shaikhspeare from the Bombay Lokal crew for a thorough shakedown of current events and geo-politics. Shilla 050 have so far released two other singles since 2019, their cypher featuring Dubai artists such as Josh Couto, Badri, Solo and Vardhaman, plus “Devil Had Faith.”
20-year-old indie pop artist Aditeya Shukla – trained in classical guitar, piano and also a drummer who’s currently studying at Stanford University, California – employs wittiness and humor in his music. Writing since 2017, the New Delhi-bred artist released his debut EP Out of the Blue in 2020 and followed it up with Just Wait, Sunshine this month. It’s a wavy, lo-fi guitar-led sound that allows space for emotional brooding (“Half Moon Outro”) as well as cheeky takes, like on “Uncertain Tea” and “Zodiacs are stupid.” Tune in for your dose of sunny yet slacker pop.