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20 Best Indian Indie songs that deserve to be on your playlist

man with electric bass guitar performing on stage
Photo by Abhimanyu Jhingan on Unsplash

Indie, or to be descriptive independent. When we talk about indie in music, it means music that is made by people independently from the major record and any conventional trends or norms (yes, I know it’s better than old songs remix factory).

Indie music is highly experimental, artists try out things like new or different sounds. The styles can range from rock music to house music to pop music.

Every now and then, there comes a revolution in the music scene of the decade. In India, however, things operate a little differently. Our country’s music scene has majorly been monopolized by Bollywood but at the same time, we can’t deny that it once housed a lot of pop and rock culture in the 60s to 90s, with their single album which we all have grown up dancing to.

A country like India has not only been open toward the drastically changing music scene globally but also has accepted it with an open heart. This has pushed its indie scene forward in turn.

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“We also have Indian musicians living abroad that are influencing the genre very heavily like  Norah Jones,  Tjinder Singh, Sameer Battacharya of Flyleaf, Siddharta Khosla of Goldspot, Ramesh Srivastava of Voxtrot, Mallika Sundharamurty of Abnormality and Parasitic Extirpation are few others that you could look into if you’d like to get a better sense of the picture.

Artists like Nucleya, Emiway Bantai, Gajendra Verma, Darshan Raval, Divine, Shirley Setia, Arjun Kanungo, Nikhil D’Souza, Vivek Verma, Badshah, Amit Trivedi, Shravan J Nair, Shubham Sarita, Papon, Benny Dayal, Jonita Gandhi, and Sanam Puri have drastically revolutionized the music taste with their finest soundtracks.

Youtube has given them a platform to make them heard without the assistance of any high profile record label. Producers like Aditya Dev, Aditya Pushkarna, and Aakash Ravikrishnan should also be given the credit to have changed the indie music industry.

Turns out, the independent music scene in India is rising like the mercury in Indian summers and it actually looks very promising. So if you thought the independent music scene of India was just limited to the Indian Ocean, wait till you go through this list.

So if you are one of those avid fans of music who love discovering new artists, here we bring to you the 20 best Indian Indie songs you should definitely listen to. Whether you are in the mood for some soothing, romantic numbers or heart-thumping sounds, these musical numbers will surely make their space in your Spotify playlist.

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1. Tum Jab Paas – Prateek Kuhad

Prateek Kuhad doesn’t need an introduction and neither his songs. A track about unconditional love, defining a relationship between two love birds who are miles apart. They both are hesitant and passionate at the same time but they don’t leave the hope and that curiosity, but when they finally fall for each other but that too not for so long.

So many promises, so many conversations are yet to happen So many days, so many nights yet to spend, All those confused eyes are in unknown cities, all those  promises flowing in waves of memories.

The sweet nectar of finding love at a young age, life feeling like sunshine and rainbows. Come to the storms of separation. The angst of not being together, of falling out of love, of never being able to see the other again pervades. Slowly what seemed like an everlasting bond becomes a fading memory.

“Kho jaane ki zidd na karo Khwaaish hai ye dil ki Raaho ko nazar mei rakho”clearly shows how much their inner child yearns for the other but their ‘wiser’ egos forbid the first move.

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The cinematography proved clearly to never underestimate the power of a single frame. All those small detailing like red ribbons, kiss me toffee, letter p on the eraser, old rose in a notebook, scribbling on a desk, love me not with flower and so many things which helps to give you old school lovers kind of vibes, This song will surely remind everyone  90′ decade’s love stories.

Prateek is an absolute gem, delivering the most surreal minimalism. This is a must-listen for all lovers out there.

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2. Aaoge Tum Kabhi – The Local Train

Often called Coldplay of India or the first ‘Local Train’, this band from Delhi is ranked No. 1 Band of India.

In this song This “Tum” is a lot of different things for different people Fits in so many places, They are the Coldplay of INDIA! Or Should I say the first LOCAL TRAIN!

This song talks of the inner poor child who has suffered a lot and now waiting for “Tum”  to come and explore the exuberance in the air and make everything so surreal with change and most importantly a new beginning. Guitarist  Ramit and paras is always a pleasure to hear, with Sahil juggling his drum sticks, and Raman is always there to amaze all with his acoustic voice that takes us to the pinnacle of vibrations of the soul.

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The band Local Train has performed in ace music festivals like NH7 Weekenders and VH1 Supersonic and OnePlus Music Festival featuring Dua Lipa and Katy Perry,they also perform in lot of college fests , so all college mates out there cross your fingers to witness them at least once.

Other tracks like Aftaab, Dil Mere, Choo lo are also worth swooning over.

3. Bandeh – Indian Ocean

The haunting yet soulful music featured in the end of the movie ”Black Friday” by the Indian Ocean is a chilling reminder of the hollowness of sectarian and communal dissonance.

The lyrics : “Arre ruk ja re bande, arre tham ja re bande . . . arre mandir ye chup hai, arre masjid ye gumsum. . . kise kaafir kahega, kise kaayar kahega, teri kab tak chalegi ho”,tells us to stop the havoc he has created over centuries making religion and caste their shield and slaughtering humanity.

The meaning of the song is quite open and speaks about the attacks on humanity, mainly terrorist attacks… Since 1993, India has seen a lot of such Bomb Blasts, The song is not just for the attacks on India, but for all the attacks that happen worldwide, on Pakistan, on Afghanistan, on Iraq, Srilanka, Beirut, or anywhere…

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I bet you probably have not listened to more powerful lyrics on the topic of communal violence than this. It is moving, it is powerful, with the surreal feeling of being in the midst of the horrible slaughter and chaos of riots. Yet it pleads, with all it’s heart to the perpetrator to stop the deadly ways to attain godliness. Voiced by Rahul Ram, who has easily given his best with all those nerve chilling beats and chords.

4. Mhaari Re Mangetar – Maati Baani Ft. Alaa Wardi

Maati Baani best known for giving a funky twist to this traditional folk song from India,! We all have at least once heard this folk song in childhood or at the wedding and went gala all over its beats and lyrics. This is like any other groovy dance number which is a helplessly addictive song and to add on that video from Maati Baani is so creative radiating the funky vibes.

Maati Baani has already created a space for itself in the music genre with its spectacular pieces and with their songs they come planned to reign our hearts through a folk song with international fusion.

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This catchy tune is surely going to be a part of any Wedding playlist.  ‘Mhaari Re Magnetar’  a Rajasthani folk song with a funky twist brought together with musical influences from different countries. The foot-tapping number features vocals from popular a capella artiste, singer and producer Alaa Wardi from the Middle East alongside percussionist Zaia and music maverick Linsey.

5. You Could Use Me As A Weapon- The F16s 

‘You Could Use Me As A Weapon’ from the album Triggerpunkte (2015) is a surely a treat for everyone’s auditory cortex, Many people tend to call them Arctic Monkey-esqe but it would not be wrong to call them a mish-mashbox of The Strokes, The Gorillaz and Modest Mouse. Drum interludes when you least expect it, amped-up bass and beautiful production.

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Both lyrically and musically, the album meanders between reverb-heavy sentimentality and fast-paced assault. This song encapsulates within itself something which is populist, experimental, healing, agitating, straightforward, highly polished, multi-layered ranging from the spectrum of emotions one to another.

6. Ghost – Parekh and Singh 

There is something strikingly unique about these boys from Kolkata, dressed in well-cut pastel -coloured suits, with a practised deadpan. Their lyrics evoke a dreamy parallel city where the world is often turned upside down, animals roam wild and teenage love and hate collide.

This song from their album ‘Ocean’,( a nine-song album full of sleepy but bright pop melodies, along with a host of music videos). From the colour of socks to type of guitar to lyrics. One will always be curiously interested in the design aspect. To guess, it may be a chute for its listeners to quench their thirst for something unique because music is consumed visually too.

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Whenever one hears their music, it compels them to be happier, bells-and-whistles space. There’s almost an adolescent quality to it, and you feel younger and happier. That’s what they are known for, they convey. 

7. Udd Gaye – Ritviz

Ritviz Srivastava, the man who created a buzz in the electronic music scene in the country and on the internet with his funky electronic dance music (EDM) tracks. The 22-year- old from Pune is trained in Hindustani Classical Music and has a passion for EDM and hip hop.

This song will give you highs like you are on top of clouds, and video with cute oldies dancing is surely a delight, this song reminds us that one can be happy and young at heart in any situation and any age. Surprisingly, Ritviz owes his success in music to his training in Hindustani classical music.

Like most of the youth of today’s generation, is inclined towards western music, he was so intrigued by the genre that he started blending hip hop and pop music in his songs which had a classical base. In fact, Ritviz’s bass-heavy tracks are generously peppered with Hindustani Classical music.

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His track ‘Udd Gaye’, a lyrical fusion of Indian and electronic music became the new party anthem. I think that’s why it connected so much with people as well, not just the melody but the way it is presented. I really do feel what I’m saying. ‘Barso’ is another lit song to listen to,

8. Riha – Anuv Jain

One of the best and beautiful track you can come across. In this, the singer wants him/her to free himself/herself from the burden that he/she carries and move on in life. The protagonist replies to them that he/she doesn’t want to forget his/her love and even if he/she wanted, it’s simply not possible. Anuv Jain is like that imaginary boyfriend that you desperately want in your life who’d sing to you every sunset on the rooftop wondering how did you get so lucky.

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His soulful voice, thoughtful lyrics, soft music, everything about this piece of art, Riha will surely soothe your heart. We all come across a phase in life when we feel alone,  lost, maybe rejected, tired, or something else and life is not getting us so our families, and Society. And wait for someone who can understand us to make us feel worthy, So get this track on loop and get ready for a ride in your dream world

9. Hey Becky – Stevie

The Indie singer-songwriter from Chennai, Stevie, whose songs are all about soul-searching, is a lot greater to mull over. It’s perhaps that listening curve which makes “Hey Becky” a refreshing listen to piano-based R&B melodies over lo-fi beats (from bassist-producer Michael Timothy) building up to a blazing guitar solo from Joel Prithvi. The song is Stevie’s second official release, following the track “All Night,” which was released in March, the same week as his win at the Radio City Freedom Awards (RCFA) in Mumbai.

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Stevie recollects he utilized his track and didn’t provide it a lot till he was nominated for Best Young Indie Artist. The simplicity yet so the abundance of this song is what worth wondering.

10. Rab Raakha – Yellow Diary

The song is an ode to the credence that while you are on a quest, a journey to search for yourself, someone up above, is looking after the ones you love. With a blend of meaningful lyrics, addictive melodies, and contemporary production, they are on their way to becoming a major pop act in India.

Yellow Diary’s signature poetic style and contemporary sound is contributing alt-rock landscape in India, creating a strong community of fans across major urban cities in India which also includes celebrities like R Madhavan, Vishal Dadlani, Shilpa Rao and Amaal Mallik – amongst many others.

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So, let us indulge in a musical adventure with this lyric video, as you begin your journey to self-discovery.

11. Shaayad – Taba Chake

Excellent rendition and absolutely magical, a perfect compilation of almost everything, the lyrics, composition, vocals. This blissful song is truly a treat to the ears, The most beautiful thing about this song you will consider and wish for is that all girls could, in reality, feel free to walk outside in the world without any fear from devils in person as shown in this video which is simply mesmerizing, reminding the childhood in the countryside in jungles, rivers, mountains, and sea.

You will surely get refreshed listening to it at the end of a stressful and hectic day by seeing this little girl riding her bike and paving her way and thus reminding everyone that one needs to just keep going, while also enjoying the beauty of life it carries with itself.

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Closing eyes and just listening to the beautiful lyrics “Inmein bhi main hi hoon – Inmein bhi main Nahi Mujhe yeh hai hua kya – Kuch pata hi nahi” will  take you to an imaginary journey in the woods, rivers, where everything is just so serene.

Taba Chake, a finger-style guitar player, a singer-songwriter from a small town called Doimukh in Arunachal Pradesh. Having grown up in a Nyishi tribal family, his music is inspired by tribal folklore, birds, and nature. He sings in Hindi, Nyishi, and English and has been recognized for his unique vocals, songwriting and percussive performance style.

12. Fursat – Arjun Kanungo

Arjun , the chocolate boy and crush of many fans out there always come up with absolutely prime songs for youngsters of contrasting genres.This heart-wrenching emotional love song by Arjun Kanungo featuring the stunning Sonal Chauhan. The song concept was chosen in a prominent manner trying to change the mentality of Indian society being male dominant as the story depicts beautifully showing the first phrase in the morning when Arjun collects newspapers with that seeing the letter he sulks, This brings tricky situation in our mind that this must be the termination leave for the guy because the society can only see a male in Cadet uniform, After the dishevelled fragile walls built among viewers the letter reaches to Sonal after she wakes up, and Arjun telling her lady love to take care of herself after him.

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After spending good times together in the last few hours, the suspense breaks the ice and actually that letter belongs to Sonal she plays the cadet role as per the song script and after the goodbye bid. Arjun makes sure she’s ready to go and pushes her to choose work prior to love. Choosing the concept intriguing the story revolves around ‘women empowerment ‘ The society needs to change equality among men and women.

The guitar on beats and overall composition is as good as his other songs are. This heartthrob never fails to make his fans swoon over him.

13. Kaam 25 – Divine 

DIVINE ‘the gully boy’ again rocked it with Kaam 25, layering some of his finest lyrical work over a hypnotic beat produced by Phenom. Kaam 25 is set in the backdrop of Mumbai, a polarising city and the canvas for the story of Sacred Games to unfold.

This razor-sharp track talks about politics, crime and passion met at crossroads. Vivian Fernandes, who is better recognized by his stage name DIVINE, says “Kuch khatam Karne ki koshish me lag jao, aur jab kaam khatam ho jata hai woh Kaam 25 hai.” Kaam 25′ brings forth a smutty image of the metropolis and DIVINE effortlessly expresses his thoughts on police, corruption as well as crime in his city.

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The accompanying video is as dark as you’d expect it to be. DIVINE who is considered one of the faces of the hip-hop movement in India became the first local artist to feature on the Beats 1 radio show and rap with Charlie Sloth on BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Fire.

14. Namaste – Motherjane

Namaste is the best way of saying ‘I accept you or I’ve recognised your effort.’ Namaste is a song about acceptance, a song talking about the monotonic nature of corporate life. It checks all the boxes for a straight-up Motherjane offering: hypnotic riffs, chunky guitars and a solid groove. Accompanying the song is a gripping music video directed by Arun Azhakesan. A beautiful convergence of music and dance, the black-and-white clip features Thiruvananthapuram dancer duo Ullas & Bhoomi performing a thought-provoking choreographed piece. Their sequences are intercut with shots of individuals from all walks of life lip-syncing to the song.

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The band describes “Namaste” as a “love song for humanity.” Their music is defined by the people in the band, and the creativity and style they bring in. Motherjane fans may argue that the void left by Byju and Suraj Mani’s departure is still left unfilled and it is true but why not see it as a new version of Motherjane.

Really great that these guys mix prog-rock with an Indian music sound, listen to other songs and you will agree with that fact that as years go by this band progresses to be much better than before.

15. Class – Sikh Maut Vol. II – Prabh Deep x Seedhe Maut x Sez On The Beat

It’s an earworm and an absolute weapon in a DJ’s crate. The hip-hop community in the north of India is most drawn to it, but a lot more people from all over India are getting behind it. This is a bold and assertive rap song that deviates a bit from the ‘gully rap’ that’s driven a lot of Indian hip-hop into the mainstream, so it stands apart. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s a very solid production with some flawless wordplay.”Seedhe Maut represents the next stage in the evolution of India’s burgeoning hip-hop sound.

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Having mastered the art of delivering razor-sharp, combative, and witty bars, the Delhi-based bi-lingual duo is one of the best hip-hop acts in the country. With their sharp words, viewers discretions because strong  Delhi tadka is visible in the song.

16. Where the Money Flows – Peter Cat Recording Co.

From the album, Bismillah is meant to be heard for all indie fans. From the grand gestures of trumpets and keys to the subtle electronics and sound bites knitted into their music, the true intricacy of their sound is a feast for indie lovers. The visuals are very perplexing too and a delight for all abstract lovers.

The chirping birds, distant car horns, and synthesized sounds of the track, “Where the Money Flows,” transport you to somewhere in-between a sunlit park and the smoky ambiance of an obscure underground music venue.

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The magic of album  Bismillah is that it elicits ambiguity — feelings, and sounds that should not belong together, yet somehow do. Melancholy seeps into jazzy dance and just as smoothly climbs into stretched synths. The constant shifts in speed, rhythm, and sound make this album feel like a play on time; listening is like bending into a dream. At times dreamy and sad, at times lazy and sweet, Bismillah is an album that moves you. It calls you to remember, to dance, to dream, sometimes all within one song.

The album finds a way to sing sadness and regret into upbeat dance tracks that feel like survival. “Freezing” and “Heera” are the anthems of a generation plagued by disappointment and disillusionment. “I’m This” grapples with questions of love, identity, and self-acceptance.

17. In My Senses – Black Letters

There comes a moment in the mad rush of adult life where everything seems to be moving at such breakneck speed that you can’t tell what would get thrown off-balance if you switched pace. There’s the inertia of emotion, no time to process, and a final moment where everything just stops.

Bengaluru indie outfit Black Letters have managed to tap into that very feeling. Their latest album, Still As You, released through local label Overfeed Records is the culmination of that break in momentum, manifesting itself like a much-needed pause; a validation of what a lot of people feel in their 20s. Anchored by a heavily-textured sound palette that feels right at home in The Black Letters’ shoegazing-alt-rock-meets-indie-dream-pop soundscape, and makes for an engaging listen all the way through, where you can see Anarkali meeting with Salim finally after a long restless trip.

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In all that it tries to do, Still As You sets a pretty high bar for storytelling in alternative music. It’s as raw and honest in its emotion as it is sleek in its production. But most of all, it defines a period of growing up that is densely layered with moments and memories and manages to condense them into a suite of genre-defying songs. It sets a mood for the journey but also compels you to stay still and listen before it’s time to start moving again.

18. Wild – Dhruv Vishwanath

This song speaks of how my family has risen out of the ashes, and gone on to live our own lives, rebuilding after the death of a loved one. The music video for Wild, the second single off 26-year-old singer-songwriter Dhruv Visvanath’s sophomore album The Lost Cause, follows its protagonists across the Mumbai landscape as they navigate life in the Maximum City. They ride the locals, hang out with friends, get haircuts, and spend an inordinate amount of time staring stoically at the city skyline. And, as the Bon Iver-Esque song about the lust for freedom builds to a crescendo, they escape to the woods, answering the call of the wild. It’s the standard “big city kids find themselves in the wilderness” trope, but with a twist. In Visvanath’s version, the protagonists are all sentient mops.

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The video is a perfect example of Visvanath’s uniquely off-kilter perspective. He’s a troubadour with a sense of humor, writing songs about deep, existential questions but never missing an opportunity to make the listener smile. Since emerging on the scene with his 2011 debut EP Chronicles—a collection of experiments on the acoustic guitar—he’s quickly gained a reputation as one of India’s most talented young guitar players. His percussive style of playing, as popularized by Erik Mongrain and Andy McKee, earned him a spot on the Acoustic Guitar magazine’s prestigious “30 Great Guitarists Under 30″ list in 2014, alongside such heavyweights as Ed Sheeran and Newton Faulkner.

19. ‘If You’re Not Sweating To This Then Honey You’re Not 90s’ – AVORA RECORDS

 ‘If You’re Not Sweating To This Then Honey You’re Not 90s’ (I know it’s too long) is another rocking number by this Mizoram band Avora Records. The rhythm section (with really tight performances from Lalchhuankima Hauzel on bass and Lalsangzuala on drums); these two are responsible for the driving force the song has and all the smooth transitions between section. In fact, the song wastes very little time to introduce its infectious energy. The verse is already jumpy, to begin with, and the choruses even more so. Obviously Stephen Hnamte’s vocals take center stage (as they should) and they’re fittingly clean; there’s no fluff or showing off in his delivery. He is melodically supported throughout by funky guitar licks that are more rhythmic than melodic (courtesy Ruata Renthlei and Khos Hmar); this further contributes to the sheer amount of groove that the song offers.

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But the band isn’t content with offering a pure head-bobber; there is a solo that is bound to get stuck in your ears, and there are snatches of background vocals that sound like something out of an old Abba song. All things considered, however, the switch-up in the middle of the track is what really catches you off guard; after a chorus, all the funky elements of the track disappear and are replaced by a slow, synth-heavy ballad. Suddenly the guitars are noodly, the drums are just a muted kick, the synths are delightfully 80s, and the vocals are way more emotive. It’s a pretty daring thing to remove everything that makes the song what it is and wind down in this way, but it works great. You’re left feeling calm and feels-y at the end after expending all your energy in the first half. This is what Avora Records seems to be good at; making sure their winning formula doesn’t get stale by turning it on its head. And boy, does it groove hard.

20. Dil Beparvah – ft. Ankur Tewari & Prateek Kuhad

This song talks about the rawness present in your heart and literally all about its state. It starts with how the world tells you to do this and that and even sometimes to console your self that this is the right way. But in the end, when it comes to your heart it will follow its own path guided by instincts. It glorifies how stubborn this heart is that never understand anything and always follows it’s own choice. This heart is careless and that how the world moves on without any concern of your dreams, your wishes but still your heart is the only way to get to your dreams and live your life to the fullest.

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Wonderful natural melodies it carries with the flow of this song, a special surprise for you all. What will happen when you will ask the two most soothing singers of the country to sing a song together? You will get one of the soulful songs in musical history. This song is a wave of calmness enveloped in gentle emotion of love and bound with beautiful words that touch your heart in milliseconds. This song is the purest form of a melody that is essential for your emotions. And the way the singers have pulled up this song is mesmerizing. My personal favorite with 2 most favorite artists.

So, with this we come to an end of our list, there are many other beautiful renditions other than these, so do give your suggestions if you want to advocate for your favorite track. We’ll be back with another musical post soon.