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Exclusive Premiere: Chicago Indie-Pop Duo Lil Idli’s Spirited Debut ‘Little Girl’

The ode to one’s younger self is taken from singer-guitarist Ranjani Prabhakar and producer-percussionist Deepak Gopinath’s upcoming record ‘Mitochondria’

Anurag Tagat May 14, 2021

Chicago-based Indian indie pop duo Lil Idli's Ranjani Prabhakar and Deepak Gopinath.

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Among the first things that Chicago-based Indian pop duo Lil Idli will admit is that their name is a bit silly. Producer and percussionist Deepak Gopinath recounts that his partner – vocalist-guitarist Ranjani Prabhakar’s mother made “cute, tiny little idlies” for lunch on one visit. “We kept saying the phrase ‘little idli,’ thinking what a great name that would be for a rapper or for a food blog. Next thing we knew, we were staking down the domain name for our band. It was just too adorable and random not to pass up,” he adds.

Prabhakar, for her part, notes that although they may not be making hip-hop, they do adhere to the knowledge that “lil” is a prefix used by proteges. She adds, “A lot of our music […] pays homage to those who came before us, and those who helped us grow as artists.” With Gopinath’s experiments in production and Prabhakar’s Carnatic music training, the two musicians have been in their own individual capacities, launching Lil Idli in early 2020. They’re now out with their debut single “Little Girl.”

The R&B/pop vocals from Prabhakar about youth and one’s inner child navigate jumpy beats by Gopinath, putting Lil Idli into jazz, electronic and neo-soul territory. The music video, directed remotely via FaceTime by Sanjana Sekhar, shows Prabhakar by a local beach in Chicago, caught in metaphors of celebration and self-reflection. The singer terms “Little Girl” the duo’s equivalent of a “pandemic baby.”

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The song is part of their upcoming six-track album Mitochondria (due later this year), with one more single release coming up. Gopinath adds about the sonic direction, “The album ranges from lush pop synths and soulful ballads to minimalist composition, steady drones, and consonant harmonies.” He adds that there is a conceptual component running throughout, one that “explores the inherited lore that travels through our mitochondrial DNA passed down through mothers.”

Watch the video for “Little Girl” below. Stream the song here.

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