Hear Swiss-Indian Artist Ta’Shan’s Empowering, Multicultural Hip-Hop
Born in Bern, based in London and currently in Mumbai for a show, the singer tells us about how her identity and music brings in Indian, Latin and British influences
What is #BombayMami? It’s a calling card that Swiss-Indian artist Ta’Shan has been projecting strongly online and in her work, including her debut record Bombay Mami Vol. 1 which released earlier this year. On the intro to the album and even in our conversation, Ta’Shan – born Shanta Azalea Venkatesh – tells us it was a word that just stuck with her once she heard it. “My friend who styled me, we were looking for hashtags and thinking about what we could do with my look – it just popped up and was very strong,” she says.
It’s been a notable year for Ta’Shan, who has been putting out music since 2014 but only recently shaped her identity as a musician who incorporates Latin rhythms, Indian visual (and occasionally sonic) motifs and hip-hop, R&B and pop. Ta’Shan performed at Glastonbury and The Great Escape Festival earlier this year and is currently in Mumbai. It’s on her way from a wedding in Rajasthan, but she’s decided to spend some time networking with artists. She says, “I’m linking up with rappers, shooting videos and performing at Opa (bar and café, Mumbai).”
Watch the video for “Mami” below.
Born to a father from Varanasi and a mother from Bern, Ta’Shan grew up in Switzerland but visited India to escape European winters. She says, “I was always connected to my culture through my father, the food, through fashion. Obviously, it was further away than the Swiss culture. When I moved to London, it changed because there were so many South Asians in London and it really helped me reconnect.”
She also made the most of London’s music circuit, finding more collaborators to produce, sing and work on her songs. Bombay Mami Vol. 1 has its finger on the pulse of tropical, Latin-inflected fast-paced hip-hop but also includes Indian instrumentation/samples on songs like “Gold & Ice.” The lyrics are playful, seductive and empowering, like on “This Time.” The song about relationships was labored over 16 to 20 hours in sessions by Ta’Shan and her team, which includes her songwriter brother Kyle.
Watch the video for “Spicy” below.
It’s not about finding a way to work in Indian influences, but Ta’Shan does mention she’s learning Hindi and is looking to put that into her music. “It’s just a natural process, though. Whatever makes sense and feels right, that’s how I want to combine it with my music,” she adds. Not entirely averse to moving to Mumbai, she says with a laugh, “Let’s hope everybody calls me here.”
There’s a 30 to 45 minute set at Opa Bar and Café in Mumbai on November 16th, which is rounding off quite a productive year for the composer. While her next single “Tik Tok” drops on November 22nd, there’s a lot more set for 2020. Ta’Shan says, “I have my first headline tour around Europe. I have shows in Germany, Switzerland, Paris, London, Denmark and hopefully I’ll come to India again. I have loads of fire singles dropping, working with people from Nigeria, Bombay and the States – the music is definitely going into a space that’s more urban than island-vibes.”
Ta’Shan performs at Opa Bar and Cafe, Mumbai on November 16th. Event details here. Hear ‘Bombay Mami Vol. 1’ below.