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Kayoben Deliver an Immersive Debut EP ‘Asrar’

The project is helmed by Mumbai-based artists Nush Lewis and Riatsu

David Britto Dec 07, 2021

Mumbai duo Kayoben. Photo: Courtesy of the artists

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Back in 2019, Mumbai-based singer-songwriter and harpist Nush Lewis was approached by music festival Magnetic Fields in Rajasthan to do a collaborative set with a producer. Lewis obliged and decided to pair up with electronic artist Shadaab Kadri aka Riatsu. She says, “We had just finished working on a track on my last EP Bridges, so there already was a synergy of sorts and I too didn’t want to go in completely blind for something like this.”

Two months ahead of Magnetic Fields, Lewis and Kadri received confirmation that their set was going to take place and soon began churning out material for it. After their performance, Lewis says, “The moment we got off stage and people showed us so much love for our set, we knew we wanted to make this something more than just a one-off set.” Now, two years later, Lewis and Kadri are back with a three-track EP entitled Asrar (which means “secrets” in Arabic and was the theme of their set at Magnetic Fields) under the moniker Kayoben.

For their Magnetic Fields set, Kayoben penned down around eight songs and revisited those tracks and picked their favorites that made it on Asrar. “We, of course, tweaked and played around with what we had written to make it a little more polished,” says Lewis. The songwriting process within the duo usually begins with Kadri who puts down ideas and soundscapes before it makes its way to Lewis. “It’s a very non-intrusive process to be very honest. Shadaab does his thing and I do mine and we just end up liking what we’ve written. So it works,” says the harpist.

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The record – which includes the songs “Between Lines,” “Hold On” and “Slow Down” – on a whole is quite immersive while also featuring a variety of sonic elements that span from ambient sections to percussive beats. Lewis’ poignant vocals blend in perfectly as Riatsu’s elegant production touches upon the mediative space as well as a more groove-oriented approach. “Both, Shadaab and I, individually in our music, deal with darker and pensive moods and tones. So we didn’t want to remove from our individual work but bring the best of both sides to create it,” says Lewis. She adds, “The dance element is what you probably won’t find in our individual sets.”

When it came to the recording sessions for the EP, Lewis recalls how the pair only met once. This was partly due to the artists involved in other projects. However, she tells us that working remotely was a breeze for them. Asrar was eventually mixed and mastered by sound engineer Hersh Desai. “Even for the mix, it was pretty seamless. We did a few online sessions with Hersh to give him direction on certain things and that was it.”

Looking ahead, Kayoben plan on releasing the rest of the tracks they wrote in 2019 and also want to put out a music video too. The pair have already played a few shows and are keen to gig more and take the music on the road. Lewis says, “Only time will tell how that will all pan out.”

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Stream ‘Asrar’ on Spotify below and on other platforms.

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