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Five Indie Acts Vie for $10,000 and MTV Video Deal at Project Aloft Star

The nationwide talent hunt’s third edition will conclude in Bengaluru tomorrow; competing acts include When Chai Met Toast and Rohit Vasudevan Diaries

Mohan Kumar K Sep 29, 2016
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Indie/acoustic act When Chai Met Toast. Photo: Courtesy of Project Aloft Star

Indie/acoustic act When Chai Met Toast. Photo: Courtesy of Project Aloft Star

Talent hunts can sometimes make or break an artist. And when it’s a question of a $10,000 cash award, the stakes can get pretty high. The finale of the third edition of nationwide band hunt Project Aloft Star will be held tomorrow, September 29th, in Bengaluru, with five bands battling it out for the top spot.

The competing acts include Kochi indie/acoustic act When Chai Met Toast, New Delhi rapper Muhfaad, Pune folk rock quartet After Acoustics, singer Abhishek Sharma from Kota, Rajasthan and Mumbai rock band Rohit Vasudevan Diaries.

Backed by MTV Asia, Project Aloft Star aims to support budding talent in India by equipping them with tools that provide them with seed money for recordings as well as boost their visibility among fans. The winner will receive the bumper cash award and a video deal with MTV. Last year’s winner was the Pune-based funk act Run Pussy Run, led by singer-songwriter Gowri Jayakumar.

This year’s five finalists were shortlisted based on a round of online polling and selections by a jury comprising renowned names in the industry such as Naveen Deshpande (founder, artist/event booking and management firm Mixtape), Soumini Sridhara Paul (vice president, Hungama Digital Media) and others.

Rohit Vasudevan. Photo: Courtesy of Project Aloft Star

Rohit Vasudevan. Photo: Courtesy of Project Aloft Star

Multi-lingual artist Vasudevan is warming up to the idea of clinching the winner’s spot and splurging the award money to produce videos for songs off his band’s upcoming debut album. “We’ve been performing for 12 years now and will release an album this year,” says the Kerala-born artist. With Vasudevan handling vocals and guitars and Saket Rao taking up drum duties, the duo pretty much wholly make up their pop-rock outfit with backing from sessions players to fill in for additional instruments. The band has composed five songs for an upcoming Bollywood film and their upbeat single “Zindagi Ek Khoj” helped them crack their way into the nomination.

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On the other hand, frontman of When Chai Met Toast, Ashwin Gopakumar, says that their ticket to the finale was their song “Firefly,” a folk-rock, banjo-infected song with a smattering of Hindi squeezed into it. “We don’t want to make any plans unless and until we win this. Right now we’re focusing on releasing our debut, four-track EP, Joy of Small Things, followed by a tour,” Gopakumar says.

Along with founding member Achyuth Jaigopal handling duties ranging from guitars and drums, and Richy Sebastin on keyboard, the band is constantly reinventing their neo-acoustic-folk-rock experiments by giving a shot at instruments like the banjo, ukulele and horns.

After Acoustics too experiment with the banjo on their popular track “Bin Tere,” which was their entry for the talent hunt. The band is lead by multi-instrumentalist, Anurag Singh along with keyboard player Gaurav Wavhal, vocalist/guitarist Akarsh Shetty and newcomer Mihir Sharma on Mandolin.

Muhfaad (Gaurav Pal), with his spitfire delivery, is the only rapper in the lot while vocalist Sharma makes up the other solo act.

Apart from India, the project is also scouting for talents from eight other countries in the Asia Pacific region, including China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Macau, Thailand, South Korea and Taiwan. “We have our focus on music and innovative technology, and one of the core programs has been to promote up-and-coming music talents,” said a spokesperson for Aloft.

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Watch the video for When Chai Met Toast’s single “Firefly”

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