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There’s a renaissance of kinds within the trade. With music manufacturing going digital and getting simpler to entry, extra artists are experimenting with genres starting from electro-pop to lo-fi, and penning songs on queerism, the misplaced land of Puadh and cultural intolerance

There’s a renaissance of kinds within the trade. With music manufacturing going digital and getting simpler to entry, extra artists are experimenting with genres starting from electro-pop to lo-fi, and penning songs on queerism, the misplaced land of Puadh and cultural intolerance

It’s almost midnight when Talwiinder takes the stage for his first gig at a glitzy evening membership, Episodes by Kala Ghoda, in Chandigarh. As the primary beat drops, the jam-packed venue swoons to a brand new sound of Punjabi music, one which is peppered with experimental electro-pop and lure music, with lyrics that break free from the mainstream rhetoric of sexism, caste supremacy and gun tradition.

The music stands out from the dhol and tumbi of bhangra tracks and so does Talwiinder’s look. The 27-year-old California-based singer-songwriter’s face resembles the Joker’s with the paint, nevertheless it has a company twist as he wears a white-collared shirt with black tie and trousers. “I wish to do one thing that nobody is doing. All people’s displaying their face, all people is trying good, clear. Bro, make the music clear. You’re promoting your self, not the music,” he says a day later, on the terraced roof of his resort.

Talwiinder, who has hits like ‘Gaah’, ‘Gallan Char’ and ‘Dil Te Dimag’ below his belt, is amongst artists who’re defining new-age Punjabi music, which expands on world music however whose lyrics are rooted within the linguistic heritage of Punjab. This style traverses by means of Siddhant Soni’s poignant rap about queer activism, Sonny Singh’s trumpet-infused renditions of Sikh kirtans, gurbanis and Gadhar poetry, and Kiran Aluwalia’s people songs, ballads and ghazals.

Siddhant Soni

Siddhant Soni

In June, one in all Siddhant’s songs known as ‘ Kalla Killah’ , was re-released by Saregama Recent throughout delight month. It was earlier launched on YouTube channel J Block, a Delhi-based music collective with which Siddhant obtained related some six months in the past. He mentioned when the label approached him, he ensured the music was made by an all-queer group. At 27, Siddhant doesn’t wish to field his music or his sexual orientation. “I need my music to be massy. I particularly wished to write down in Punjabi as a result of I used to be sick and drained of what’s occurring. After I learn Amrita Pritam, Shiv Kumar Batalvi or Paash’s poems, I really feel there’s a lot extra to Punjabi than all this misogyny and patriarchy,” he says.

Primarily based in Delhi, he traces his roots to Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh the place he grew up with Punjabi-speaking Muslims, Sindhis, Hindus and Sikhs. His influences swing between Lal Chand Yamla Jatt, Surinder Kaur, Alam Lohar, Attaullah Khan and Naseebo Lal.

By way of his music, Siddhant addresses phrases which can be focused at shaming and harassing LGBTQ+ group. “The phrases that I say in my songs, like ‘Bandeya’, are what we take heed to day-after-day. The feedback on my social media are testimony to it. Perhaps if I rapped in English or Hindi, I might not have the ability to attain the type of viewers I wish to discuss to,” he says.

Sonny Singh

Sonny Singh

For Brooklyn-based Sonny Singh, 42, the lyrical (and typically musical) content material of Punjabi pop music is a caricature of itself. “I discover it boring, but additionally type of unhappy,” he says. In late 2018 and early 2019, Sonny was feeling pulled down by the rising wave of authoritarianism all over the world. “I discovered myself revisiting some shabads [Sikh hymns] I learnt as a baby. I began making movies on Instagram, explaining the lyrics and connecting them to current instances. I finally reached out to my buddy Wil-Canine Abers, bassist of the Grammy-winning band Ozomatli from LA, to see if he may wish to produce an album for/with me. He beloved the thought, and the album was a inventive collaboration. We introduced collectively over 20 of our musician associates, so it was a group effort.” The album Chardi Kala was launched in Might this 12 months.

The primary wave of change in Punjabi music got here within the late Nineties, when artists from the Punjabi disapora within the UK, Canada, and the US started to create music. It will definitely gave strategy to tracks like ‘ Mundeyan Toh Again Ke’ by Punjabi MC and ‘ Energy of Bhangra’ by SNAP.

New York-based music producer DJ Rekha Malhotra, who launched Basement Bhangra in New York in 1997, says, “Within the UK, through the peak of UK Bhangra, there have been many labels like Oriental Star Company, Moviebox, Nachural Data, and Multitone. Now the quantity has dwindled, however lots of artists are placing out their very own releases, like Panjabi MC and AP Dhillon.”

DJ Rekha

DJ Rekha

Rekha is producing Basement Bhangra’s twenty fifth Birthday Bash at Central Park Summer time Stage on August 6 with singer Jasmine Sandlas and shall be launching a brand new podcast in 2023. She is the chief producer of an album by Ganavya Doriaswamy, based mostly on the poetry from Fariha Roisin’s e book Easy methods to Remedy a Ghost, which can function tracks with visitor vocals from Priya Darshani, Ali Sethi, Raveena and extra.

Within the early Nineties, she noticed the emergence of DJs within the Indian group. On June 26, 1992, her report label Sangam Sounds labored its first set because the DJ crew for a party at Bombay Harbor restaurant in New Hyde Park, New York. “Our DJ setup comprised two client CD gamers, together with one which I pulled out of my mum or dad’s hi-fi rack system, a Radio Shack Public Tackle System mixer, a tape deck, a receiver (additionally from my dad and mom’ hi-fi rack system), and a set of low-quality carpeted DJ audio system. We had solely 15 CDs, which prompted us to repeat a number of key tracks—a DJ no-no. In our inexperience with the expertise, we didn’t account for the receiver, which was powering the audio system, overheating. This necessitated borrowing a fan from a university classmate who lived shut by. We made $51 that evening,” she remembers.

Digital revolution

Rahul Balyan, head of music at Spotify India, says Punjabi language has seen an enormous progress on Spotify when it comes to every day listeners, complete songs streamed, in addition to progress in artist followers on the platform.

Prime 5 on Spotify

Most-listened-to Punjabi singers 

Sidhu Moose Wala

AP Dhillon

Karan Aujla

Harrdy Sandhu

Arjan Dhillon 

Most-listened-to Punjabi songs

No love, by Shubh

295, by Sidhu Moosewala

Excuses, by AP Dhillon

The Final Experience, by Sidhu Moosewala

We Rollin, by Shubh

Most-streamed musicians in India 

Arijit Singh

Sidhu Moosewala

Anirudh Ravichander


Shreya Ghoshal

“Punjabi is now amongst the highest 5 languages streamed in India. Our flagship Punjabi playlist, ‘Punjabi 101’, has turn into fairly fashionable with customers too. We have now been capable of take lots of artists to world customers in Canada, UK, US and Australia, and have even executed world campaigns in a number of abroad markets,” he says.

The digitisation of music, opines Talwiinder, has democratised its dissemination. “When American rapper Ras, in his interviews, says ‘you don’t want no one; there aren’t any gatekeepers’, he’s proper. Now you can add your music on DistroKid, CD Child and inside per week, your music shall be on Spotify, Apple Music, anyplace. You don’t want music labels,” he says.

To Talwiinder, the reckoning got here after ready for a response from huge labels for four-six months. He was then working at JP Morgan and had invested his financial savings in advertising and marketing on Instagram and Fb adverts to take his music to the individuals. “Distribution firms do every thing for you for a yearly charge. You ship them the file, add an image as cowl artwork. Each artist has an opportunity to place every thing in all places. I used to be doing Instagram adverts, so individuals might take heed to me for 15 seconds, and swipe as much as go to my YouTube in the event that they wished to take heed to the remaining. These had been actual individuals going to the YouTube, so YouTube algorithm is useful as properly.”

Kiran Ahluwalia

Kiran Ahluwalia

In 2000, Canada-based Kiran Ahluwalia, whose influences vary from Western and Indian music to the African blues, recorded her first industrial album and has now began recording her eighth.

She has belted out over 14 Punjabi songs, a few of that are people ( Dil, Koka, Jhanjra), ballads ( Rab Da Roop), qawwali ( Mustt Mustt, Jaag na Jaag) and ghazals ( Kina Nere, Raqba). “As of late, nobody needs to pay for music anymore, so musicians (at the least right here within the US) don’t make any cash promoting their music. They solely earn cash from performances and sync (placing music in movies). Huge platforms like Coke Studio assist popularise an artist and a music, so that they’re necessary that method,” she says.

This 12 months, Ahluwalia featured on Tiny Desk (House) Live performance. She has largely been on smaller world music labels. Punjabi music movies specializing in women and vehicles put her off. “I discover that odd and uninteresting,” she says.

Her upcoming songs are about cultural intolerance. “I am troubled by the lack of brotherhood/sisterhood amongst us and the lack of humanity,” she says.

The way in which ahead



Quickly after Independence, 28 villages on the foothills of the Shivalik vary had been razed to make method for Chandigarh, the present-day twin capital of Punjab and Haryana. This episode and later the trifurcation of Punjab into Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, dealt a physique blow to a area of Punjab and a dialect of Punjabi — Puadh and Puadhi. Kru 172, comprising brothers Navdeep Singh and Harsimran Jit Singh, is a rapping duo from Chandigarh. It takes the numbers of their title from the town’s STD code and is attempting to revive the fast-fading Puadhi dialect by means of their songs.

They’ve been fortunate so far as labels go. Other than releasing songs on Zee Music and far just lately on FoundOut Data (a sub-label of Common Music India), Kru 172 claims to have produced songs for artists who’ve been signed by T-Sequence, Velocity Data, and White Hill Music.

“With labels, you get a wider attain as a result of they’ve a bigger community and far more assets as in comparison with an indie artist, however one additionally loses the inventive freedom. Our purpose is to determine ourselves as impartial artists,” says Navdeep (34).

Their second album, Chandigarh’s Hottest Duo, impressed by old-fashioned growth bap and the ’90s west coast sound, options an intro monitor in Puadhi dialect. “We had been born in a household of small-scale farmers, proper right here in Chandigarh. For the longest time, we didn’t know that we’re natives to this land. Along with Majha, Malwa and Doaba, Punjab’s fourth area Puadh, spans throughout Punjab, Haryana and Himachal. Chandigarh was constructed on the land of Puadhi individuals. Our village was one of many 28 which had been razed to the bottom for the town. Most Puadhi individuals (together with ourselves at some extent of time) really feel ashamed to speak of their native tongue, as a result of we really feel it’s inferior to different dialects. We wished to alter that notion. The Intro is an actual story. That’s my grandfather’s brother speaking about our village that used to exist right here earlier than the federal government took the land to construct the brand new capital for Punjab,” he shares.



Rappers like Prabh Deep and Kidjaywest are additionally experimenting with new sounds. Kidjaywest aka Harry Sandhu, who has collaborated with Talwiinder on a number of tracks, says expertise and social media have made fame a extra democratic course of. “I believe a dwelling instance of that is Talwiinder. He has been capable of develop a following by means of his music throughout India, independently, with out ever displaying his face. The few reveals he has executed thus far have been bought out. Prabh Deep is one other instance of an artist who is not scared to push the boundaries in relation to experiments with sound,” says the 30-year-old.

For Sydney-based Kidjaywest, Punjabi hip-hop and rap remains to be in its infancy. “In 5 years, we are going to see much more vary coming by means of subgenres of lo-fi and growth bap rap. You will note artists speaking a couple of multitude of matters, be it romance or racism. That’s the fantastic thing about hip-hop: selection.”


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