For over seven years now, indie music duo Tech Panda x Kenzani, comprising Rupinder Nanda and Kedar Santwani, has been painting the sonic canvas of India’s electronic music with experimental sounds.
Hot on the heels of chart-breaking ‘Dilbar’, they released the Hindi rendition of Post Malone and Swae Lee’s super-hit song ‘Sunflower’ for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and dropped their new single ‘Kulli’ this month. Navigating the indie electronic landscape, without a single album under their belt, the duo has released nearly 100 singles and is marching upwards and onwards to redefine the genre of “folktronica”. “It combines the sound of folk and electronic music,” Kedar explains.
Having spent 20 years in Saint Martin, an island in the northeast Caribbean Sea, Kedar came to India nearly a decade ago armed with several musical influences. Rupinder borrowed his taste in music from his grandparents, who listened to artistes like Asa Singh Mastana, Mehdi Hassan, Surinder Kaur and Attaullah Khan.
He met Rupinder at a party in New Delhi sometime in 2015. and the two released their first two songs in 2016: ‘Saawariya’ and ‘Naani’. “I work with different sounds and Rupinder has a more classical touch to his music so we both combined it. Growing up in the Caribbean, I used to listen to house music, reggae, French music, everything; so, I embedded all these genres into our music,” says Kedar.
He admits that when the duo started out, they did not get much response to the tracks. “It was a very new sound. Indian electronic was not big then. It took a while even for us to grow as artists and make music that people could understand,” he adds.
Now, however, things have changed. Commercially, electronic music is finding its feet in Bollywood and OTT shows, says Rupinder. He adds, “In the last two or three years, Bollywood music is accepting a lot more electronic beats. Because of OTT, the trend has changed. Most songs have been very experimental,”
In fact, the duo was approached two months ago to create a more Indianised version of ‘Sunflower’. “An artist agency, Tarsame Mittal (TM Talent Management), gave us this work. They wanted to remake the song entirely and went with Indian vocals. Singer-rapper Badal recorded the vocals after hearing the instrumental,” says Kedar. With no strict guidelines, the duo toyed with the creative liberty to execute the song. It garnished the riffs given to them by Sony Music with Hindi vocals and five Indian instruments. “We used manjira, sitar, tabla, bamboo flute and santoor to make the sound more Indian,” adds Rupinder.
Between the two of them, Kedar and Rupinder work in consonance when it comes to composing music. “We don’t have roles and participate equally, affirms Kedar, adding “We are both adept at production. Rupi specialises in vocal processing and finalising of tracks. He’s good with polishing the sound and with vocal recording and I do more of the software, but we both know everything.”
The two also share a penchant for folk music, which reflects in their new single ‘Kulli’. Rupinder signs off saying, “This song has been in the pipeline for over a year and a half. We do a lot of folk music because the sound is so original and we want to keep it alive. Reinventing it is the best way to revive it.”