While independent artists have increased in recent years, budding artists in the genre have yet to receive the recognition they deserve. For this reason, I have compiled a short list of Indian indie artists who should be on your playlist. Whether expanding your musical tastes or appreciating the variety of instruments and vocal talents among all these artists (or both), this list is your starting package.
The F16s: The alternative band from Chennai, India, began their journey to independent fame in 2012. Drawing inspiration from a similar sound system to Julian Casablancas and The Voidz, the exsupports the feelings of everyday city life outside the busy streets. Vocalist and lead guitarist Josh Fernandez’s vocal range is one of the F16’s strengths, as his vocals add more dimension to the beautiful melodic riffs and drum beat. Fans of The Strokes, The Arctic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend would definitely like this band, because the sun overdrive surfrock genre also applies to F16s.
Their first EP “Kaleidoscope” was released in August 2013 and was more instrumental and rock. However, the following year they released their two-track album, “Nobody’s Gonna Wait”, a more transitional piece. In 2016, the album that really demonstrated the band’s artistic ability, “Triggerpunkte” was released. Finally, in 2019, the band released their most recent EP, WKND FRNDS, which offered a mix of melodic, soothing tracks with light, uplifting rock.
Best Songs: Moon Child
Summer in my lungs
Who stole the thief
Prateek Kuhad: The Indian singer-songwriter from Jaipur, India has made a name for himself on the indie scene with a soothing yet heartbreaking voice. With more simplistic and mellow instrumentals, Kuhad allows his vocals to take center stage and has proven to move audiences around the world, with his most famous track “cold/mess” even ending up on hit lists. Former President Barack Obama’s Favorite Songs of 2019.
While Prateek resides in New Delhi, he studied at New York University before returning to New Delhi to pursue a career in music and was even the first Indian to be signed by American label Elektra Records in 2020. Kuhad’s musical career was successful. so far, it has won Indian Independent Album of the Year 2019 by iTunes and Spotify.
“In Tokens & Charms”, released in 2015, and the latest pop EP, “cold/mess”, released in 2018, both feature a wide range of Kuhad’s instrumentals and lyrics. He’s steadily released singles since then, such as “The Biggest Lie” and “Kasoor,” which were released in 2020. While some songs are perfect for a walk on the beach, some are written for heartache and longing. It is no wonder that he has become one of the biggest artists in the independent music industry in India.
Best Songs: Kasoor
Kho Gaye Hum Kahan
Tum Jab Paas
Taba Shake: Growing up in a small town called Doimukh located in Arunachal Pradesh, India, and also part of the Nyishi tribal family, his music is heavily influenced by the nature he surrounded himself with, resulting in a folky sound . With a dreamy voice and the vibrant ukulele incorporated into his songs, the artist also sings in Hindi, Nyishi and English, a unique combination rarely seen in the music industry.
“Bond with Nature”, released in 2016, is truly a collection of peaceful and comforting songs, perfect for any warm sunny day. It is both motivating and a tribute to nature. After releasing singles along the way, Chake finally released his most recent album “Bombay Dreams” in 2019. In this album, he lets his unique voice carry the song from start to finish, but makes sure to stay consistent with its upbeat nature, this time with more incorporation of rock and electric guitar. Last year he released his single “Blush”, a very delicate and summery song. Whether it’s the need to lift your spirits or bask in the sun, Chake’s entire discography is perfect for all of these occasions.
Best Songs: Morning Sun
walk with me
Peter Cat Recording Co.: Based in New Delhi, the group was founded in 2009 and has been recording alternative ballroom waltz music ever since. During these years, the group experimented with their sound, ranging from jazz to electronic music, before finding a small mixture of both. Instead of limiting themselves to a single genre, the band incorporates romantic lyricism, guitar distortion and retro production to find a sound that is uniquely their own. It has been difficult for the Peter Cat Recording Co. to be recognized for their beautiful music mainly because the New Delhi music scene does not suit them, as the band described that it was difficult to find gigs and only the middle class and beyond have the ability to explore this genre of music in India.
Although founded much earlier, the group only released their first album,
“Portrait of Time: 2010-2016”, in 2018. Lead singer Suryakant Sawhney draws inspiration from legendary Bollywood playback singers in this album, but there’s also a hint of American Western influence after time has passed by Sawhney in San Francisco. In 2019, the group released their next album “Bismillah”, which displayed the progression of their sound with experimental colors and a glimpse of their personal journey as musicians. In May 2020, Peter Cat Recording Co. released a series of rejected songs from previous albums into one cohesive album titled “Happy Holidays”. Both soothing and light-hearted with their signature saxophone embedded in retro sound, the band are on their way to producing even more meaningful and transformative music.
Best Songs: Floated By
Portrait of time
When Chai meets toast: Located on the southwest coast of India, this group began their musical journey in a studio in Kochi. A more folky sound with extensive use of acoustic guitar, When Chai Met Toast encompasses
the feeling of a cloudy autumn morning and a bright summer afternoon at the same time. At the start of music release, the band struggled to gain exposure, but after their Youtube debut and Spotify launch in their country, they are now included in acoustic and indie playlists, a big step. for any independent artist. The band’s name actually represents their Indian roots (chai) with the influence of western music (toast) on their own sound. Although mostly sung in English, their lyrics also include Hindi and Tamil language to make it accessible to their wide range of listeners around the world.
Drawing inspiration from folk rock bands such as The Lumineers and Mumford and Sons, the band released their debut EP “Joy Of Little Things” in 2017. The album is a wholesome message to appreciate the little things in life through simple and joyful narration by the band itself. They then released their next EP “Believe” in 2018. The folk influence is more noticeable in this EP, but they continue their pattern of producing inspirational and motivational music time and time again. Finally, the group has released new music sporadically over the past two years, with singles such as “When We Feel Young” and “Ocean Tide” – hopefully an album in the making.
Best Songs: Khoj (by the way)
When you feel young