Despite a lull in gigs and concerts, 2020 saw a rise in new artists. Some of these rising stars also won over new fans after being featured on live streams and Instagram live sessions by established artists like Ehsaan Noorani, Apoorva and Dhiman, and Raghav Meattle. Artists like Aamir Rizvi and Arjun Ranjit similarly worked towards increasing their music reach by performing for such digital concerts.
Just take Chennai-based pop artist Kevin Fernando’s case. In April, Fernando performed a few originals on Meattle’s Insta live. This led to an upsurge in his social media followers and Ehsaan Noorani and comedian Abish Matthew too became his fans. With this newfound popularity, he dropped his first 2020 single called Foxy.
Social media hence became a major tool for artists to network with their audiences and fellow musicians. Dimapur-based singer-songwriter Abdon Mech similarly tried curating virtual gigs for himself while dropping his debut acoustic single, titled Again. Through this song, Mech poetically captures the varying impacts of the pandemic on different sections of the society.
Like Mech, even Akshit Dhall wrote and recorded his recent single in a minimal post-lockdown setting. Aptly titled Home, Dhall ponders on him missing his native city while adjusting the new city he settled in for his college.
Coming to the acoustic indie subculture in Indian independent music, Krishna.K. offered audiences several simple, heart-warming ukulele-infused singles (Indigo, Pieces to Keep etc), apart from some relaxing covers on Instagram.
Singles aside, some artists have been dropping albums and EPs. Mumbai/Sikkim songstress Anoushka Maskey in fact dropped two EPs this year alone! This included her ‘folksy’ August debut Things I Saw In A Dream, and her sophomore effort in September called C.E.A.S.E.
Similarly, Sanjana Devarajan dropped a 4-track EP called Mood, and the record lives up to its title as it’s quite a ‘mood’ indeed. Breaking away from the acoustic indie tropes, she relied on a more upbeat electronic-influenced sound. A few animated music videos accompanying each song further boosted the reach of her content.
Each musical venture during a turbulent pandemic-ridden year had some sort of unexpected inspiration behind it. For Frizzell D’Souza, it was an evening interaction with a friend that inspired her debut c single New. When a friend asked her if she’s writing something ‘new’, her mind sparked up and she ended up writing a country blues-style song called New, about the oversaturation point of a relationship.
Warm, breezy vibes went on to engulf 2020’s tense times even during its wintry months. Butterflies, a single by Pune-based singer-songwriter Nida Siddiqui incorporated soothing guitaring to convey a narrative of ‘having butterflies in the stomach’ while wishing to say something to someone (but not being able to).
Nitika Kurian evoked a calming lo-fi-like soundscape with her March release Blue. The song reflects the Chennai-based singer-songwriter’s affinity towards the seas and oceans, calling herself ‘the ocean’s daughter’. With its dreamy tones, Blue was one of the most memorable productions from the earliest phase when the pandemic began to spread.
At the same time, artists resorted away from the escapism to use their art to spread awareness around significant issues. A case in point is the hauntingly real Ek Angana. In it, Shubham Kabra talked about the continuing practice of female infanticide and how it needs to stop once and for all.
Coming to foreign collaborations from the young artists, one of the most memorable songs was Zaroori by Mumbai popstar Lakshya Bhatnagar. He collaborated with Nashville-based fiddler Jenee Fleenor, contacting her via an Instagram DM! Sehem Gaye and Pari were a few other singles that Bhatnagar dropped.
To put it in a nutshell, the rising stars of India’s indie scene improved their music and their artistic persona despite the pandemic, proving that desperate times call for desperate measures.
Kevin Fernando- https://instagram.com/kevinfernandomusic
Arjun Ranjith- https://instagram.com/arjunranjit
Aamir Rizvi- https://instagram.com/_aamir_rizvi
Abdon Mech- https://instagram.com/abdonmech
Akshit Dhall- https://instagram.com/akshit_dhall
Krishna K- https://instagram.com/krish_music
Anoushka Maskey- https://instagram.com/anoushkamaskey
Frizzell D’Souza- https://instagram.com/frizzell.dsouza
Nida Siddiqui- https://instagram.com/inidaonedance
Nitika Kurian- https://instagram.com/nitikakurianmusic
Shubham Kabra- https://instagram.com/shubhamkabra06
Lakshya Bhatnagar- https://instagram.com/thevoiceoflakshya