Wild City is an alternative music and culture platform based in India. Last month, they chatted to us about some emerging Pakistani artists, so it only made sense to get the lowdown on some of the most exciting musicians in India right now. We spoke to Dhruva Balram, head content writer at Wild City, who gave us his picks of 9 artists that you should keep an eye on. Here’s part one. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means – Dhruva was keen to point out how many artists he hadn’t included – but it’s a good start for people like me who had no idea of the Indian alternative music scene. It was an absolute blast listening to all this great stuff coming from our neighbours next door – I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Aniruddh Menon – Lovesongs
Dhruva Balram: Consolidate is a Bangalore-based label run by Rahul Giri. It’s all these like-minded artists who are coming together to create, for me, the best music coming out of India right now. I should mention that I’m still pretty fresh to the scene and to hear these releases… it’s really heartening that such progressive music is being made in India. Aniruddh Menon’s Lovesongs is one of those albums. ‘2 rupee jelly’ is one of those tracks that I just love and still bump.
Mosiki: I personally love Vishu Kani, the end of that track where everything comes together, I just think it’s great.
DB: Menon was also part of the excellent band Machli. I will say that Lovesongs isn’t perfect, but it is a very complete album.
M: And it starts so well too, with Surpanakha and that old Bollywood sample.
DB: Throughout the album are nostalgic Bollywood samples and quotes that are somehow warped into this really warm and familiar feeling. What I like with Consolidate is that they’ve created a very unique sound. Lots of contemporary electronic Indian music does copy western electronic music, but Consolidate have put their own spin on Indian Contemporary music. They’re using what’s already there with Bollywood but tweak it into a very unique sound. Much like there is a UK grime sound, and a Berlin techno sound, I think India will get there very soon, and Consolidate are huge in pushing that envelope.
Disco Puppet – Spring
M: Sticking with Consolidate, the other album I listened to was Spring by ‘Disco Puppet’, which was probably also the most challenging one.
DB: I actually really enjoy them, I don’t find them challenging. I think it’s one of the most fun – I actually listen to them when I write. I still can’t put a finger on what they sound like, and I enjoy that. It’s clear that it’s not beautifully polished, but it’s very good.
M: It’s very ‘put together’.
DB: But I see what you mean by challenging. I think I’ve listened to them so much I’ve just forgotten.
M: I was reading the description of the album on Bandcamp where it says Biswas (Disco Puppet) was inspired by his childhood so I went into it expecting these very nostalgic sounds and then you get this very challenging but interesting stuff, and I think I need to listen to it a lot more.
DB: It’s odd that that’s what reminds him of his childhood! I’m excited to see what else he’s going to release.
Lacuna – Sinking Straight EP
DB: Mihir Raina is a Delhi based producer who makes really good trip-hop, and I personally don’t really like trip-hop, and I was really into it. I feel like all of the tracks on the EP can be hip hop beats.
M: Whenever I hear the word trip-hop now I always just think of Danny Brown’s latest Atrocity Exhibition, or Death Grips, and this also reminded me a little of that, those odd beats that kind of overlap.
DB: It feels like everything is mashed together but really everything’s been put very precisely and meticulously into place for a certain reason.
Profound – Fre$h
DB: So Profound blew me away. Initially I didn’t really like his work, it sounded unpolished and amateurish. And then I heard this EP, which is called Fre$h, and it’s sort of a classic beat-tape. It reminds me of MF Doom, or so many Drake producers. You know how Madlib just made beats all the time and was just like, here’s 30 beats: that’s what it reminds me of. I really like the EP, it’s some of the freshest music I’ve heard.
M: Dilla is so influential and he may not have got the recognition he deserved, but now that sound, that kind of lo-fi, cut-and-paste style of producing is very popular. Sentences is a great tribute and has that Dilla feeling, where everything is just a little bit off the beat, nothing’s quite on time, you’re always waiting a tiny bit.
DB: It’s short but it leaves you wanting more. I go back to this EP constantly. Just really good beats.
Next week we’ll be posting PART 2 with the other artists that Dhruva and Wild City recommended, so check back then! Enjoy.
This conversation has been edited for brevity and to make me sound less dumb, just btw.