6 Female Indie musicians you should listen to.
Updated: Oct 6, 2019
1. Dot. (Aditi)
Yes, that dot at the end of Dot is important. Little things like dots, and Aditi’s under-three-minute pieces of magic, have a way of making a statement. It’s her eponymous YouTube channel with her original music often only paired with her piano that has been making waves in the indie music circle. But if I were alive a couple of generations ago, I could easily have heard her playing the matinee show at a New York theatre or accompanying something grand on Broadway. Dot throws back to music from a different era, and yet, there is unmistakable modernity in her songwriting and her effortlessly poetic lyrics. It’s easy to get lost in the waltz of her piano’s rhythm but when you realise how effortlessly Dot goes from an Aretha Franklin drawl to an Ella Fitzgerald high register while all the while remaining unmistakably herself, you’ll wish for more music from her and soon, just as I do.
This is Dot playing “Everybody Dances to Techno” in her room, perhaps the same magical place where it was conjured.
2. Karshni Nair
It would be unfair to say things like Karshni is brilliant for someone so young, because Karshni’s brilliance does not need her age to stand for itself. I had the pleasure of watching her live recently, and what struck me in particular was how she effortlessly had the crowd sitting in a circle around her as if she were telling a story. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that she also performs as a poet, which is apparent in her surprisingly cutting lyrics about relationships and society. Karshni’s stories are wound around her deceptively thin finger picked guitar melodies, and you’d be hard-pressed to find another musician who uses the minimalism of their instrument to put their beautiful voice in focus like Karshni does.
3. Kamakshi Khanna
Kamakshi is one of my favorite live musicians in the scene because she always manages to surprise you with the arrangement for the night and how effortlessly adept she is with all kinds of them. On different occasions, I’ve seen her perform with a synth and a loopstation, a full band, a uke, an acoustic guitar, and to say nothing of the times she lets all of these go quiet and her voice fills the room, no matter how big it is. Kamakshi’s diverse range of influences shows in her album Cakewalk, which you can find on your favourite streaming service.
It’s not often that I love an artist for the way they cover another artist’s music, but you HAVE to listen to Kamakshi cover Lianna LaHavas on a loopstation. It’s the sonic equivalent of a making-of video of your favourite film.
Here’s Kamakshi performing “Wait” for Madness JAMS.
4. Ramya Pothuri
I remember straining my ears to hear Ramya’s effortless, honest, and definitely funny on-stage banter at a gig. Of course, I had no idea what this voice was going to do in some time - Ramya would cast a spell on the crowd with music that seems to transport you. There is definitely some escapism in the way Ramya lets her voice reach out to the higher notes like a kite, like forgetting something in a good way. And when she wants to pull you back, she definitely can - her music and lyrics run the entire span of emotions and Ramya is equally at home with a fuller band as her track “Summer” proves.
5. Aarifah Rebello
Ramya collaborates frequently with fellow singer-songwriter Aarifah Rebello, although I’ve only caught them live or on Instagram. But you have to listen to Aarifah whose crushingly emotional original, Don’t Rush, you can check out here. AND on top of this Aarifah is an accomplished drummer too. Aarifah has a way of snapping into the depths of her own music and dragging you along, making sure you feel all of those emotions on your way. This is how I remember her on stage, joking with the crowd one moment and then having everyone mesmerized the next, with a voice that only appears quiet - it actually has so much to say.
Ditty’s album Poetry Ceylon that released earlier this year was accompanied by an inlay that had poetry inspired by her experiences in Sri Lanka and some wonderful drawings, which made the album about more than just the music. This attention to detail and the wholesomeness of experience is what makes Ditty special, among other things. On stage, Ditty was at home with vocals that border on spoken word, and with her voice that is tinged with a folk-music sort of longing for another place. A lot of her music seems nostalgic for a beautiful day, and perhaps there’s no better way to remember that day than her music.
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