Indie music is finally getting a long overdue boost.
Every now and then there is an indie revolution in a country’s music scene. In India, however, things work a little differently.
The Indian music scene has been mostly monopolized by Bollywood and there is no escaping it.
The independent music scene in India is rising like the mercury of Indian summers and it looks very promising.
The independent music scene in India has grown immensely, giving these artists the love and attention they have always deserved.
Below, we spotlight 10 independent artists whose discography is worth adding to your playlist.
Bengaluru based singer and rapper Ranjani Ramadoss aka RANJ was part of the Kelvikkuri fusion act but came into her own in 2021, after releasing her Tamil single ‘Nee Mattume’.
The versatile singer also launched a heady collection of bops with producers Clifr and Issamood on the EP, 593, vol. 1through which she tackles topics of nostalgia, relationships, friendships and sexuality.
Then came breakup song ‘Mutual’ with Clifr, which veers into deliciously groovy and soulful territory.
To close out 2021, RANJ collaborated with ace guitarist-producer Sanjeev T on “Underdog,” a powerful and uplifting anthem.
Shillong-based artist Shane has a refreshing R&B side that he explored on his debut EP, To likewhich dropped in 2021.
Channeling a lot of Chris Brown and a bit of Frank Ocean, Shane is a certified love boy straight out of the North East.
Besides doing a few commercial projects, the singer has also lent his melodious vocals to independent songs by producer adL, as well as a year-end collaboration with fellow musician Rudra on his Hindi song “Galtiyan.”
Sunflower Ribbon Machine
Aryaman Singh, aka Sunflower Tape Machine, 19-year-old multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, only dropped three singles in 2021, but that was more than enough to keep listeners hooked.
The reason was the Chennai-based musician’s refreshing and nostalgic take on psychedelic rock, indie and shoegaze, reflected in songs like ‘Sophomore Sweetheart’, ‘Within You’ and ‘Death, Colourised’.
His work so far includes stumbled jams that firmly root in your mind and are somewhat reminiscent of global hitmaker Tame Impala’s early tracks, except more peppery.
One of India’s most streamed independent female artists according to Spotify, Ambika Nayak aka Kayan has released uplifting pop tracks like ‘Be Alright’ and ‘On My Own’.
She is really sought after for her frenzied DJ sets.
She spends her time establishing herself as both a formidable pop voice and a party DJ, which is evident in her whirlwind sets that tap into her love for hip-hop, R&B, pop and soul.
Although she made great strides with her single “Kya Tum Naraaz Ho?” in 2020, singer-songwriter Tamaya Bhatnagar has many more opportunities to present as an artist.
She collaborated with Sanjeeta Bhattacharya on the vulnerable ‘Itne Pyaar Se (Thoda Darr Lagta Hai)’, but also had songs like ‘Raat Adhoori’, which amplified her calm yet powerful voice.
Teaming up with producer Ritwik De and bassist Amar Pandey, Bhatnagar ended their year with an English EP titled Wherever I go I wanna be all I need.
Through this, Bhatnagar established a strong visual and sonic aesthetic, deftly balancing Hindi and English tunes while catching the eye of Sony Music-run label Day One.
It’s no secret that Dharavi has given birth to some of Mumbai’s most determined and talented rappers.
The Dharavi Dream project weighs it in, with multilingual teams like Slumgods, Dopeadelicz and 7Bantai’Z amassing millions of streams. And then came RAK.
Mumbai-based hip-hop artist’s debut EP, Kaalaiwas entirely in Tamil, which makes him boldly individualistic in terms of emphasizing his Tamil identity even when all Mumbai rappers rely on Hindi.
Released via Azadi Records, the EP features a distinct don’t mess with me attitude that’s both refreshing and brutally honest.
Mama Marykali Tribe
Shameless, sultry and playful in her songwriting, Kerala Tribe singer-songwriter Mama Marykali has appeared on multiple radars with songs like “Bless Ya Heels” and her collaboration with Bengaluru band T.ill APES titled “Concrete Jungle “.
There’s an air of fun empowerment in everything Marykali has been associated with so far, and with admiration for her performance at the NH7 Weekender in February 2022, we’re sure her legion of admirers will continue to grow. .
Not at all unknown, thanks to his work with electronic duo Lost Stories on remixes of Ritviz songs, Mumbai rapper Yashraj Mehra found a new side to himself after appearing on Zaeden’s track ‘kho gaya’, released in 2021.
It allowed him to dispense worldly advice about his raps, a side of himself he hadn’t explored before.
He also unleashed his aggressive side on bass-heavy banger ‘Raakh’, which is a complete antithesis to his trademark chill tracks.
Guri and Aksha
With pleasant and clever pop culture references via songs like “Mona Lisa Smile”, Mumbai-based singer-songwriters Gouri and Aksha tapped into a charming chord on their debut EP, Sum of parts.
Released in 2021, it reflects on growing up and losing love alongside other harrowing experiences.
Distinct voices on their own, a bit of both personalities shine through in each Gouri and Aksha release.
They also provided backing vocals on Prateek Kuhad’s song “Khone Do”, which saw them perform on stage with him while he was on tour.
Ananya Sharma only started in 2021.
Following the wispy and atmospheric debut single of 2020 “Dear Felicity” featuring Funan and Gang, the Mumbai singer-songwriter has released two dreamy singles titled “State of the Art” and “I’ll Never Be Bad Again”.
Ananya Sharma’s sublime range is remarkable.
She sings about self-acceptance in the most overt yet metaphorical way.
Steadily growing and often pigeonholed as a genre that exists on the fringes of the wider music industry in India, indie music is finally getting a long-awaited push from the big players.
The proliferation of streaming platforms, management companies and slick visuals has given the country’s independent artists a global boost in recent years, improving their chances of going stratospheric.
The long list of accomplishments of these unorthodox independent artists grows longer each year, through individual effort or through their assimilation into a larger collective gathering around their own.