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Cover to Cover: From String Quartet Billie Eilish to Jazz-Fusion and More

Independent artists don’t shy away from paying tribute to their favorite songs and artists, including Michael Jackson, The Killers and Olivia Rodrigo

Listen to covers by artists (clockwise from top left) Karan Viegas and Achanté, Charlotte Campbell, Tony Das, Perfect Strangers, Tiyasha Biswas, Saachi, Dallas String Quartet, Sahil Vasudeva, Mohini Dey and Gino Banks, Tejas and Lala. Photos: Courtesy of the artists

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Karan Viegas and Achanté – “Summertime”

Mumbai-bred artists; Karan Viegas (based in Brooklyn) and Toronto-based Chantelle Menezes aka Achanté recently delivered a warm neo-soul cover of the timeless George Gershwin classic “Summertime.” The duo showcases Indian and African influences across their version as they share vocal duties brilliantly while slick piano work, percussive chants, lush pads and several modulations, as well as soundscapes of birds, meadows and swaying trees, give the track a seismic lift.

Charlotte Campbell – “Mr. Brightside”

London-based singer-songwriter Charlotte Campbell’s poignant cover of American rockers The Killers’ 2003 track “Mr. Brightside” is a superb take on the band’s hit song. Opening with just Campbell’s elegant vocals and piano, this version slowly builds with acoustic guitar and a string arrangement. The musician also variates the melody slightly at some instances to give the song her own flair while maintaining the track’s roots.  

Tony Das & Willy Demoz – “Revelations”

It takes some guts to cover a Chris Cornell song. Guts and exceptional musical talent are definitely what Bengaluru guitarist and vocalist Tony Das and drummer Willy Demoz have as they’ve shown with their version of American supergroup Audioslave’s 2006 offering “Revelations.” Das and Demoz have left no stone unturned on this in-your-face ode to Cornell. Das delivers on all fronts, be it emulating Cornell’s passionate vocals, Tom Morello’s distinct guitar parts and Tim Commerford’s booming basslines while Demoz’s hard-hitting drums definitely live up to Brad Wilk’s energetic performance. The revelation here is most certainly that this is a cover the late Cornell would be proud of.

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Tejas – “Here, There And Everywhere”

Mumbai singer-songwriter Tejas recently took a pop at the Beatles song “Here, There And Everywhere” from their 1966 album Revolver. Armed with just his acoustic guitar, the musician serves up an honest and captivating performance with his feel-good strumming and mellifluous vocals as he sings, “I will be there, and everywhere/Here, there and everywhere.”

Lala – “Happier ”

A connoisseur of covers, American artist Lala runs a rooftop series performing her favorite songs by other artists. One of the tracks that stood out for us was pop artist Olivia Rodrigo’s “Happier.” With help from a backing track, Lala captivates us with her sublime vocal performance and range while all at the same time maintaining a sense of control and emotion.  

Saachi – “As The World Caves In”

Mumbai-based singer-songwriter Saachi takes on fellow musician Matt Maltese’s enchanting song “As the World Caves In.” Saachi’s effortless performance and mesmerizing singing ability is second to none. The young vocalist shines throughout this version and is in her element as a backing piano and her delicate harmonies add to the magic.

Tiyasha Biswas – “Ocean Eyes”

Chhattisgarh-based singer-songwriter Tiyasha Biswas comes to us with a spellbinding cover of Billie Eilish’s “Ocean Eyes.” Biswas’ smoky vocals along with her treatment of acoustic guitar parts and finger snaps give the song her own touch, as she keeps it simple and refreshing.

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Perfect Strangers — “Billie Jean”

To coincide with Michael Jackson’s birth anniversary, Bengaluru band Perfect Strangers bring a funky, jazzy and overall shimmering pop-rock spin to the King of Pop’s hit “Billie Jean.” Coupled with a crowdsourced music video featuring MJ fans from around the world, the band are also raising funds for an animal aid initiative called Bowl for a Soul, which aims to equip the streets of Bengaluru with water bowls for strays.

Sahil Vasudeva, Mohini Dey, Gino Banks — “Dragonfly”

In the words of pianist Sahil Vasudeva — who has dipped his toes in experiments ranging from electronic to baroque, classical and more — his cover of American artist Derek Sherinian’s “Dragonfly” is like “if acoustic piano played metal.” To aid him in creating a dizzying jazz-fusion version of the track are drummer Gino Banks and bassist Mohini Dey, with the latter even adding konnakol to elevate the song.

Dallas String Quartet — “When The Party’s Over”

Evidently, Billie Eilish seems like she’s heading right into the history books for being a widely covered pop artist. Among the more enchanting and wholesome subversions of her song “When The Party’s Over” comes via the Dallas String Quartet. Arranged by Ben Bram (producer for American vocal pop group Pentatonix), there is brevity and poise aplenty, plus a breathtaking music video to boot for the somber cover.

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