The ‘Indie’ in India— something for everyone

From Ritviz and Nucleya to Anuv Jain to The Local Train, it is undeniable that indie as a genre has gained popularity explosively in India. The versatility of indie music extends beyond just beats that make you get up on your feet to dance. The beauty of the ‘Indian indie’ genre lies in the fact that there exists a genre within ‘indie’ for everyone—whether it be Sufi music, mainstream Bollywood films’ songs or Hindustani classical music. However, music was not always this diverse in India.


The spark to the indie wave, as we know of it today, was ignited by Indian bands. When they began to cover songs of famous international artists, it evolved from a simple cover to become a fusion of musical styles. By the early 2000s, bands would use this method to experiment and invent their unique image. One of the primary media used by Indian bands to promote their unadulterated individuality was YouTube. The launch of a Viacom 18 Channel, called Pepsi MTV Indies, also pushed the idea of ‘indie’ artists to the forefront. The only channel for indie music, it slowly became a popular channel that aired music videos by indie artists. However, it went off-air in 2016 and was replaced by MTV Beats— a channel that, like other music channels, aired Hindi music “24x7”. The intent was to cater to a larger audience and promote mainstream Bollywood music.



These indie artists in India have slowly gained popularity in the past few years with increasing usage of streaming apps such as Saavn, Gaana and Spotify. Though the genre has gained support and love in India, most indie artists still cannot make it “big”. However, Gen Z does have an appreciation for “lesser-known” artists like When Chai Met Toast, The Yellow Diary, Taba Chake, and Tanmaya Bhatnagar among many others.


Female artists— be it soul-soother musicians or the ones with classic house party-beats— have benefited massively from the indie wave. Sanjeeta Bhattacharya and Tanmaya Bhatnagar’s vocals for ‘Itne Pyaar Se (Thoda Darr Lagta Hai)’ with the accompanying sweet background melody would surely make you hum along while Sejal Kumar’s ‘Khali Khali’ is the perfect track for your morning commute to college. If you find yourself in need of a track to play while tackling the assignment you were dangerously procrastinating with, Kayan’s ‘Cool Kids’ is the one for you. Avanti Nagral’s ‘The Long Way' is the sort of track you can find yourself listening to while missing someone special or you can play Ditty’s ‘Deathcab’ while you are staring dramatically out of the window, immersed in your fake scenario. Akanksha Bhandari’s ‘Pehli Baarish’ would be an apt companion to have while the city embraces a drizzle. If none of the above hit a chord, you can always go with ‘Tum Ho Yahaan’ by Abhilasha Sinha. Nostalgia guaranteed (keep a whole tissue box by your side because this will be the nostalgia check you did not ask for).



Sure, the indie genre still does not dominate the music industry but the indie music scene in India is faring much better than it was in the early 2000s. The credit for this transformation lies with technology. The entity we have a love-hate relationship with has created music streaming apps, social media where these artists promote themselves, and a platform for low-budget and small-name artists.






Sources:


Kusnur, Narendra. “What’s indie music anyway?” The Hindu, 31st March 2017, https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/whats-indie-music-anyway/article17745956.ece.


Menon, Malavika. “From Bollywood To Indie Music: How India’s Music Industry Is Making A Shift.” ED Times, 30th April 2021, https://edtimes.in/researched-from-bollywood-to-indie-music-how-indias-music-industry-is-making-a-shift/.


Rolling Stone India. “Pepsi MTV Indies to Go Off Air, Be Replaced by Hindi Music Channel.” Rolling Stone India, 7th September 2016, https://rollingstoneindia.com/pepsi-mtv-indies-to-go-off-air-be-replaced-by-hindi-music-channel/.


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