Seven LGBTQIA+ Artists Steadily Making it in the Indian Music Industry
by Anurag Tagat | Independent Music Journalist
This year, beyond recognizing and celebrating Pride Month with the LGBTQIA+ community, many can look upon it as a month of discovery of creative individuals (and communities) who are confident and growing with their identity. We spotlight seven artists who are unflinching, vulnerable and comfortable in different turns with their expression, representing the rainbow by being their best selves.
In 2018, when Indian-origin singer Raveena dropped the song “Temptation,” it came supplied with a story of attraction that we hadn’t seen before from the artist. In her sensual daydream that’s heightened with a music video (in which you can just feel the heat), Raveena explores queerness in her signature saccharine way. It not only showcased a new side to Raveena but also conveyed a new artistic statement which she dove into with her 2019 album Lucid.
Sushant Divgikar aka Rani Ko-HE-Nur (queer)
Performing for a few years under the drag queen moniker Rani Ko-HE-Nur and now also leading a pop-rock band called Top Storey, Divgikar launched his debut solo single (independently) in December last year. “Diamond” is just the kind of assertive song led by a powerful voice like Divgikar’s, who aims for soulful highs throughout.
GrapeGuitarBox (non-binary, gay)
Bangalore-bred queer artist Teenasai Balamu, who identifies as non-binary and gay with they/them pronouns, released their debut EP Out in a piecemeal fashion. Songs like “Wait For You”, “Run” and “Meant To Be Yours” spotlight unconditional feelings of affection and love and set a lyrically inclusive tone. Their latest single “28” blazes its own path with arena-ready guitars and rhythm, plus a playful violin melody running throughout. Currently based in London, there’s a spiritedness that GrapeGuitarBox brings to all their songs and we’re excited to see them grow.
Chennai singer-songwriter Krishna.K is among the rising voices in not just India’s independent music space but also in the Tamil film music industry over the last year. Although often hyped by fellow singer-songwriters like Raghav Meattle, Kevin Fernando and more for evocatively covering songs on a ukulele, Krishna’s own material – “Dragon”, “Indigo” and “Butterflies”, among others – led the artist to be picked as the lead vocalist on the song “Maayangal” from Kutty Story, a Tamil anthology film. If you enjoy simple yet stirring music that can elevate your day, Krishna.K likely has just the song for you.
Jay Anand (transgender)
New Delhi bred, Bangalore-based Jay Anand has had quite a journey with his music over the span of over five years. Studying in Los Angeles and finding the network to build up material (his album Faces of Love)that showcased alternative/indie music, once the artist returned to India, songs like “Fool To Want You” and “Come Home” showcased a deeper connection that Jay developed with his own identity. Currently helming a music and education technology firm called allround club, it might be a while before we hear new music from Jay but the audience is pretty much ready and waiting.
Cartel Madras (queer, pansexual)
Indo-Canadian sibling hip-hop duo Cartel Madras’ Eboshi and Contra mince no words when it comes breaking down gender misconceptions. On early compositions like “Kuthu Pattu”, a line like “Who’s that girl you thought I was?” opens itself up to multiple interpretations with regards to one’s identity. One of their latest songs “Dream Girl Concept” sees Eboshi lead with a fantastical (and definitely raunchy) ode to a girl, building up one of the coolest brags in queer music.
Yatin Srivastava (Bisexual)
New Delhi-bred composer, producer, filmmaker/photographer and guitarist-vocalist Yatin Srivastava knows how to do more than just djent. Going beyond his project’s sonorous album Chaos//Despair in 2018, Srivastava found a strong bunch of collaborators for his EP Quarantine, Vol. 1 that showcased an emotive modern metal sound that also contained flourishes of electronic music and rock. Active since 2011, Srivastava keeps things experimental yet within the vast expanse of prog with his music so far.