Meet Nexa Music Top 24 Artist: The Suhaas Ahuja Band
The Mumbai alt rockers recently released their first single ‘Phantom In The Fog’
Earlier this year, Mumbai-based alt-rock outfit The Suhaas Ahuja Band released their first single “Phantom In The Fog.” The track about surviving trauma includes melodic guitar parts and smooth harmonizing with unmistakable disco influences. A month later, they were announced as one of the acts in Nexa Music’s Top 24, a nationwide hunt to put the spotlight on emerging English-language artists. Formed in 2017, the band comprises frontman Suhaas Ahuja, guitarist Abhigyan Arora, bassist Anand Masrani, percussionist Amit Mhatre and vocalists Ruhika Rao and Gouri Ranjit. When asked about how it feels to be a part of the Top 24 cohort, Ahuja says, “It’s all fine to say that one doesn’t need any validation, but the truth is that validation is so powerful. It’s encouraging to be given a sign that ‘Hey, you’re doing all right. Carry on in the direction you’re going.’ Nexa did that for us.”
While English-language music thrives more in India’s independent music circuit than the mainstream, Ahuja argues that the output is largely derivative. “This is not necessarily because the creators are Indian: a lot of English-language music from the West is derivative too. But if more English music reaches audiences, there’s going to be a stronger feedback loop generated, so to speak. And that will only help the evolution of Indian English music,” he says. The frontman sees the Nexa Music Top 24 as a catalyst for the scenario, something that could take musicians from playing catch up to finally having their own stage.
The Suhaas Ahuja Band has already finished work on their upcoming single under Nexa Music mentor Clinton Cerejo. Ahuja tells us about the process, “I was looking forward to revisiting and refining the vision of the track, and feeling safe in the hands of Clinton — a real giant of the music scene — and his incredibly talented and dynamic team. And that’s exactly what happened. And then to discuss with him the possibilities of the song, to discuss the direction the song should or shouldn’t go in; that’s just a privilege, and certainly one of the high points of my creative life.”
The musician voices a need for more big players to enter the business and support Indian English-language music in order for the scene to evolve from its nascency and transcend the seasonal explosions. Once the competition is over, Ahuja plans to renew his promise of being his best musical self. “[I want] to leave behind a body of work that gives people an idea of what it was like to be alive in this epoch,” he says.