Independent music is scoring the charts

When Farhan Akhtar recently announced a collaboration with Kerala indie band ‘Chai Met Toast’ for his directorial ‘Jee Le Zaara’, it was a clear indication of independent musicians making their way to glory in Bollywood.

The pandemic served as a blessing in disguise for the independent musicians as they churned out music that was well accepted by the music aficionados.

Currently, there are hundreds of artists who are winning hearts with their experimental music. There are several Prateek Kuhads that have emerged in the independent space in recent times.

The popular indie artists scoring the charts are Ritviz, Raghav Meattle, Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, Nucleya, Taba Chake, Kanisk Seth, Shirley Setia, Kavya Trehan among many others ruling the indie music segment.

There has been an upward rise of independent musicians in India as compared to Hindi film music in the pandemic.

Singer Papon believes the spike in independent artistes is due to the shutting down of cinemas.

Papon told IANS: “Everything was shut down from film music to cinema in the pandemic. And this was the time when a lot of musicians created independent music. I myself have created a lot of independent music during this time putting it out slowly one by one. It has been a blessing in disguise for me.”

The Assamese singer has given hit songs like ‘Jiyein kyun’ and ‘Moh moh ke dhage’ to Bollywood. He has a band ‘Papon and The East India Company’ where he creates experimental folk music.

Agreed Benny Dayal: “Yes, there is an emergence of independent music in the pandemic, compared to films because films are not being able to release in theatres. Independent music is making its way right now pretty quickly. It had to happen. Having a music industry where musicians are the face of their own music is very important in our society.”

Benny is a prominent multilingual playback singer and also has an independent band Funktuation. He has songs like ‘Pappu Can’t Dance’, ‘Kaise mujhe’, ‘Rehna Tu’, ‘Daru Desi’, ‘Lat Lag Gayi’ to his credit.

Mourjo Chatterjee launched ‘On Stage Rekords’ in August, a label to support independent artistes like Digvijay Singh Parihar and Vinayak Bal. He said, “My motive of starting this label is to tell artists that it is your creation, keep it to yourself.”

He shares the reasons behind the boom. “Due to the lockdown as there are no shows, musicians have gone ahead and started putting content. That’s how the chain started and all of a sudden there is a boom of independent artists.”

“From the last one and half years people have understood even if you don’t have Bollywood, one can survive on independent music. Independent musicians have realised that instead of selling their songs to a label, they would rather put their heart and soul into it and keep the rights of the song.”

Singer-composer Akhil Sachdeva who garnered recognition through his song ‘Tera Ban Jaunga’ in ‘Kabir Singh’, feels, “definitely, there is an emergence in independent music as compared to Hindi film music.”

Akhil said: “I feel an artist needs independence and the way he wants to express his feelings through his music. I agree films give a wider audience but to keep waiting for the films and where you can’t do the song the way you want to, it comes with its own baggage.”

Mourjo said the increasing number of music streaming apps are also a catalyst in the spike in independent singers and composers.

Akhil said it’s important to create one’s own music.

The boom in independent music has opened doors for many opportunities for artistes. While the lines are blurring, a lot of Bollywood singers have started their own labels and a lot of independent artistes are being welcomed in Bollywood with open arms.

Mourjo said, “It’s an interesting phase as artists are getting to collaborate because of cost-saving and visibility. Taking independent artists for the films is the need of the hour, as the producer isn’t putting too much money on the music, which probably they would do in a normal scenario. An independent artiste would charge half the price that of an established Bollywood artiste.”

Akhil added, “Bollywood is ready for acceptance of new sounds. The presence of independent musicians in the film industry has become wider. Both the things are hand in hand.”