Indian Indie Music Starter Pack

Every May, Ontario celebrates Asian Heritage Month, and what better way to celebrate our South Asian Heritage than by celebrating the diverse genres of fresh indie music erupting onto the scene with their amazing creative energy and talent making a buzz around the local indie circuits.

There’s just SO much diverse music coming out of the Indian subcontinent, and if you don’t want to take our word for it, just check out this amazing playlist below.

We present to you certain choice gems of Indian Indie music compiled very conveniently in a playlist called “Indie India” (curated by Spotify, covering all sorts of genres right from trance and folk to experimental and metal) as a sort of starter pack or a jumping off point to start your own journeys of discovery into the vast and beautiful world of indie music coming out of India.

You can find the playlist here.

We’ve highlighted some of our favourite picks below, in no particular order, in case this 57 track list seems a little daunting.

Udd Gaye - Ritviz

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Ritviz is a 21-year old Singer, DJ & Dance Music Producer. His music is bass heavy, and rich in eastern sounds owing to his training as a Hindustani classical musician since the age of 6. He was recently announced as the winner of Bacardi House Party Sessions India, where his latest single “Udd Gaye” was handpicked & released, along with a music video, by AIB & Nucleya. An instant hit, the music video has garnered 2.5 Million views in just four weeks of it’s release, and the track has close to 2 Million plays on Saavn & iTunes.

His 4 track EP titled “YUV” was released as a free download in June 2016. He now looks forward to releasing his next EP titled “VED” in January 2018.

Does Bombay dream of NOLA - Sandunes

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Image via Sandunes

Sanaya Ardeshir aka Sandunes is a Mumbai-based electronica/Dance music producer whose roots in keyboard playing and piano shine through in the eclectic and expansive soundscapes of beats and rich, layered instrumental music that echo throughout her tracks. Reminiscent of Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada, Sandunes has certainly grown in popularity and it is obvious to see why.

The lead single from her latest EP, Nola Daydreams features a melodic trilling and a dreamlike quality that makes it impossible to stop the infectious rhythm from taking over.

Firefly - When Chai Met Toast

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When Chai Met Toast, is an indie-folk-alternative band based in Cochin, Kerala. The upbeat strumming of the banjo and subtle drums on their first single Firefly off their debut EP The Joy of Little Things simply fill you up with a joy and unbridled energy, making you want to get up and do a little happy-dance, even if you’re not a happy-dancing kind of person. Not limiting themselves to any one language, their songs include lyrics in a mix of languages such as English, Hindi and Tamil which, together with their choice of instruments, builds a distinct country music vibe that mixes in seamlessly with their own unique musical flavour. Without having any clear “genre”, their music can only be described as “happy”.

Candyland - Komorebi

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Image via: Komorebi

New Delhi based artist Tarana Marwah has a clear love for Japan and it reflects in the name of her alternative/experimental electronic act, Komorebi, a word often translated from Japanese as “the sunlight that shines through leaves”.

Combining the influences of Japanese culture and existential musings, her animated music video for Candyland builds a melancholic mood and paints a somber picture of unrequited love in the 21st century.

Her debut album, Soliloquy is full of dreamy atmospheric experimental electronica, haunting vocals and features collaborations with a number of indie stalwarts such as Warren Mendonsa of Blackstratblues fame, artist Sohrab Nicholson and bass wunderkind Mohini Dey.

Rush - Mali

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Picture via Mali

Maalavika Manoj AKA Mali is a Mumbai-based singer-songwriter whose tunes capture the authenticity of classic pop from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. Her debut EP Rush, (Check out the eponymous single here) recorded live with some of the most talented musicians from the Indian independent scene such as fellow singer- songwriter and guitarist Tejas, drummer Jehangir Jehangir and bassist Stuart DaCosta, embraces the kind of warm, raw, analog sounds that are rarely heard in contemporary pop today.

Put simply, it’s pure, unadulterated music that’s fresh but without the frills. Think back to the Carpenters, Fleetwood Mac and Alanis Morissette, but with lyrics that detail the experiences of a twenty- something woman in urban India. A storyteller as much as musician, Mali’s songs are inspired by people, both those closest to her and those she has encountered and have impacted her.

Her latest music video for the song Play, features her own musician-grandfather joining her with the harmonica, invoking some Bob Dylan-esque old-world charm. With soulful lyrics and a heartfelt message, this is one video you should definitely check out.

Wine - Tejas

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Image via Tejas

The singer-songwriter based in Mumbai has been making waves in the indie scene with his full-length debut album Make It Happen being featured at #3 on Rolling Stone India’s list of 10 Best Indian albums of 2017.

Tejas is an original pop-rock artist from Bombay, India whose music has brought together a community of people who appreciate that a singer-songwriter does not need to be defined by a single genre, but a variety of sounds and landscapes that Tejas now uses to define his own signature sounds. Whether it’s a 4-piece horn section, synthesizers, heavy guitars or just a single acoustic guitar, Tejas’ musical adventures have taken him to places that have allowed him to push well past his creative limits, all while keeping one foot firmly in pop-rock. Tejas’ lyrics speak about his own life and stories inspired by his own journey to find his own identity, having lived in multiple cities and having grown up outside his home country and his vocal delivery is pretty sweet too, echoing a blend of Craig David, Sting and Amos Lee. He has played at the biggest festivals in India including Bacardi NH7 Weekender, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival and Mahindra Blues Festival. Tejas’ unique approach to design and social media along with his signature musical style have grown his sizable fan base over the years to make sure his band sets are packed with manic energy and solo sets are filled with quiet listeners. After releasing his debut EP Small Victories in late 2014, and crowdfunding his new LP in a record-breaking 6-hour window, he now is ready with his follow up and biggest release yet ‘Make It Happen’.

So - Happy listening! Look out for Part 2 soon, covering tunes from across the borders!

PS: If you like what you read or heard, Tawoos is bringing two of the featured artists, Tejas and Mali to Toronto this June! You can check out their shows here!

We have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline and for more details about shows and other activities, stay tuned and follow us on Instagram and on Facebook for more updates!

Tawoos Stories is looking for contributors familiar with the South Asian music scene.Have something to share? Write to us at