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Now Playing at a Stage Near You: New Artists Who Thrived Digitally Since the Pandemic

With gigs and festivals back, here’s a chance to hear fresh music by the new crop in the Indian indie space

Artists (clockwise from top left) Yush!, Anoushka Maskey, RANJ x Clifr, Dhanji, Tanmaya Bhatnagar, Abdon Mech. Photos: Courtesy of the artists; Dark Matter (Yush!); Export Quality Records (RANJ x Clifr); Kirtiraj Hada (Dhanji)

Through the pandemic, we witnessed a surge of new artists crop up and release some stellar music. Now, with the live music scene making a comeback after a stop and start run due to COVID-19, those same musicians have an opportunity to showcase their craft live and in person. Here are some acts hitting the stage that we think you shouldn’t miss out on.

Abdon Mech

Nagaland singer-songwriter Abdon Mech left quite a mark on listeners with his 2020 hauntingly beautiful debut single “Again.” Mech followed that up with his five-track debut EP From a Bamboo Room. Although the artist has been playing shows in and around his hometown, he is now gearing up to hit the big festival stage of Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Pune later this month. If you get the chance to, don’t miss a live set to hear Mech’s delicate songwriting coupled with his deft guitar playing at a gig near you.  

Anoushka Maskey

When you’re a new artist on the block, it is quite gutsy to go out and release two records in the same year. That’s exactly what Mumbai/Sikkim singer-songwriter Anoushka Maskey did in 2020 when she dropped two EPs, her debut seven-track offering Things I Saw in a Dream and the four-track C.E.A.S.E. Those releases catapulted Maskey to the forefront of the indie music scene and she didn’t rest on her laurels, quickly releasing the singles “September Embers” in 2020 as well as “Empire of Fear” and “eventide” in 2021. Maskey will now be taking her eclectic sound over to the Red Bull Off The Roof stage at this month’s Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Pune.

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Tanmaya Bhatnagar

One new artist that has been very consistent with her releases is New Delhi singer-songwriter Tanmaya Bhatnagar. Since 2020, the musician has released a bunch of singles as well as her emotional four-track debut EP Wherever I Go, I’d Like To Be All I Need. Although Bhatnagar’s melancholic tunes might be best heard in an intimate setting, it’s going to be quite interesting to hear how she adapts to a festival stage when she performs at Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Pune later this month. 

RANJ x Clifr 

Bengaluru singer and multi-instrumentalist RANJ aka Ranjani Ramadoss and guitarist-producer Clifr aka Chlipher Christopher have been among the freshest new acts out of the city. It’s chiefly because they blend hip-hop, pop, soul and R&B in a way that’s just very current, like on their EP 593, Vol. 1 with producer Samudra Dasgupta aka Issamood. At Bacardi NH7 Weekender, they’re likely to bring in-the-pocket grooves, the energy of a jam band combined with the intensity of a rap act, all rolled into one. 

Yush!

Mumbai singer-songwriter Yush! aka Soham Pathak released his indefatigable first single “Carbs (Papi Player)” late in 2020, ready to push forward with his project despite the changing world of live music. Since then, he’s rolled out shimmering synth-informed songs like “Indian Summer” and more recently, “Pride and Joy.” On March 13th, Yush! draws together a live band for the return of gig series United We Groove, taking place in Navi Mumbai. Expect emphatic dance-pop and a few pensive songs as well. 

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Dhanji 

Ahmedabad-bred hip-hop artist Dhanji has been partly out of the country for studies but remained prolific with standout mixtapes and gripping music videos like “Guru” across the last three years. With a razor-sharp flow and his distinctive way with words, Dhanji has performed a handful of times so far. With a nationwide tour in the works coming up this year, the rapper is likely to wreck havoc at a venue near you soon enough.

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