Welcome to the Electronic Movement
Yashica Dutt · August 16, 2018 · 4 Minute Read
One of the biggest stories to come out of the South Asian music industry since the turn of the century is the rise of electronic music. From one-off festivals in Mumbai and Goa, and DJ nights on weekdays in local clubs in the mid-2000s, the electronic music scene in India has practically exploded as the international, experimental alternative to Bollywood music. While major global names like David Guetta, Tiesto, and Afrojack have made India their stomping ground, homegrown talents are also getting significant international recognition. As part of Saavn’s #ElectronicMovement campaign, we’ll be shining a spotlight on some of the genre’s most celebrated, creative, and talented artists. Here are just a few.
Sure, you probably know them for their chart-busting hit “Closer,” but the American duo of Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart are originally an electronic DJ duo and production outfit. Known for their poppy, upbeat sounds and dance-style tracks, they have been the popular darlings of the electronic music scene for a few years now. But besides everything, we love and know them as the duo behind Priyanka Chopra’s 2013 single “Iconic.”
Originally from Norway, this 26-year-old DJ and producer is best known for his spacey and soft progressive buildups that have become a staple at outdoor music festivals. Both “Firestone” and “Stole The Show,” two of his biggest hits, have millions of views on YouTube (“Firestone” alone had 500 million views till last year), and in 2016 Kygo became the first electronic DJ to close an Olympic ceremony at Rio.
You might recognize them from their multiple Indian tours or a constant spot at Tomorrowland, one of the world’s biggest annual music festivals held in Belgium. The duo has produced the festival anthem since its inception in 2010 and their single “Tremor” with Martin Garrix helped them bring home the coveted No.1 spot on the annual DJ Mag list in 2015.
The first Indian-origin DJ on our list, Niles Hollowell-Dhar, who goes by his stage name KSHMR (based on the state of his origin), has been making the desi diaspora proud since 2014. Since then, he has collaborated with big names like Hardwell, R3hab, and Firebeatz, and has released tracks like “Festival Of Lights,” “Kolkata,” and “Underwater” (which also had Sonu Nigam on the vocals) that are a hit both at home and abroad.
If you are a gamer, you may be a long-time fan of Alan Walker. As a gamer himself, his tracks are inspired by electronic drops characteristic of video games and are often used by YouTubers in their videos. Known best for his multi-platinum single “Faded,” he is known to be inspired by the globally popular television show, “Mr. Robot,” and even performs on stage in a gamer mask and hoodie costume.
Another Indian name, Sandunes is not only based in the country, but is also among the rare breed of female Indian DJs who enjoy international recognition. Born as Sanaya Ardeshir, Sandunes has a unique sound and stage presence. Often described as broad and spacey, Sandunes has a sound that’s malleable and shape-shifting, just like her namesake.
If Daft Punk pioneered the trend of DJs and producers hiding their identity, Marshmello represents that trend’s millenial avatar. Appearing on stage in a marshmallow-like mask with crossed eyes and a wide blank smile, his identity was a huge question mark for several years. The big secret was finally revealed in 2017, when actress Urvashi Rautela tagged his real Instagram account, Chris Comstock, in a photo. Later, his identity was confirmed by Forbes magazine.
Doing the local scene proud, this electronic DJ duo started in 2009 and, since then, has steadily registered its presence on the global electronic scene. Prayag Mehta and Rishab Joshi met in Mumbai in the late 2000s and began producing progressive house music, including an official remix for Alan Walker’s “Faded,” which took them to Tomorrowland, not once, but three times in the last few years.
Sahil Sharma, who is better known to electronic music fans around the world by his stage name, Zaeden, was just 14 years old when his remix for Coldplay’s “Magic” appeared on Hardwell’s radio show, Hardwell on Air. Since then, he has been consistently performing both at home in India and abroad, most recently with Lost Stories at Tomorrowland in 2018.
If there is a name on our list that truly represents the evolution of Indian electronic music in this century, it’s Arjun Vagale. The former half of the massively popular erstwhile electronic outfit, Jalebee Cartel, Vagale was one of the few producers who, along with MIDIval Punditz and DJ Pearl, created a space of electronic music to flourish in India. Known as the techno pioneer of India, he is often quoted as the most successful commercial DJ to emerge from the country.
Record producer and household names Diplo, Jillionaire, and Walshy Fire were touring India when they first experienced the energy and positive vibes from their fans and decided to shoot their next video in the country. “Lean On,” which was shot in Vasai, Maharashtra’s ND Studios, went to become one of the most streamed songs of all time, with over two billion YouTube views as the twelfth most viewed video on the site.
Often called the ‘Godfather of EDM’ and repeatedly voted as the Greatest DJ of all time/past 20 years, Tiësto introduced the idea of DJs playing solo sets to a concert audience. Before he started playing 6-hour ‘Tiësto Solos’ without opening or supporting acts in the early 2000s, DJs rarely performed to a crowd alone. His 2003 concert in Arnhem, Netherlands, was the first time a DJ played to an audience of 25,000 in a stadium.
While Tiësto is the Godfather of EDM; Buuren is the Patron Saint of Trance. A State of Trance, a weekly radio show he has hosted since 2001, is often credited to creating an interest in Trance music worldwide. A perpetual headliner at Tomorrowland, Buuren has many accolades under his belt, most notably a record for 21 entries on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart in the United States.