Aastha Gill, Bali unravel challenges of creating music in digital age

Mumbai, July 22┬áSinger Aastha Gill has collaborated with rapper Bali for their new offering, “Balma”. Aastha, who is known for doling out hits such as “Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai” and “DJ Waale Babu”, both with Badshah, was introduced to Bali by the popular rapper himself.

The two instantly hit it off with their creative wavelengths matching beat to beat (pun intended).

In a conversation with IANS, the two music artistes spoke about the independent music space in India, the cultural difference between the Hip-Hop music in Delhi and Mumbai, their new song and their work pressures in the age of Internet.

Back in the 1990s, indie pop music ruled the charts. However, it diminished as the dot com bubble burst open in the early 2000s, the mainstream film music replaced indie and defined the landscape of music in India for a decade and a half.

With the rise of digital, things swung in favour of independent music starting somewhere around 2015.

In Bali’s opinion, the lockdown was the real game-changer for independent music artistes.

He said: “People were sitting in the confines of their homes, they suddenly found a new avenue of entertainment and content consumption in Indie music.

“The movies were not in production at that time. So, a lot of big labels also started supporting new artistes and that’s how the landscape shaped up for independent music starting with the pandemic era.”

Aastha, in jest, having worked in the space for 5-6 years now, said”I guess thoda credit hume bhi milna chaahiye (we should also get credit for strengthening the indie music scene). But on a serious note, I feel blessed to be working in this era and juggling both mainstream and indie music space.”

In the contemporary times, when every new form of content like films, series, music singles or videos, hits the airwaves every second, it puts musicians under pressure to dole out track one after the other but it does not hold the same for Aastha, she likes “to take things at (her) own pace”.

Bali raises his hand in consensus from the other frame where he can be seen in the lap of nature, somewhere in the north.

Aastha feels sad that, “art has become a business now”.

However, she adds that artistes need to keep their artistic integrity intact. “Commercial aur the business part of the job managers ke upar cchod dena chaahiye (one should leave the business part with the managers)”, she told IANS as both Aastha and Bali burst into laughter.

The Hip-Hop scene in two of the biggest cities of India – Mumbai and Delhi, is vastly different, while Mumbai rappers speak more about the adversities that they face, Delhi rappers always highlight the lavish lifestyle, swanky cars and posh lanes.

Underlining how the cultural difference between the two cities is responsible for this contrast and their lyrical structures, Bali said: “Haan ab dekho hum Dilli waalon ko thoda show off karne ki aadat toh hai hi na (I admit that Delhi people have a habit of showing off).

“Even I have faced problems in life, everyone does, but I don’t feel like putting that out in my lyrics. What I feel like writing about is comedy and the light-heartedness of life.”

“Balma” which is available to stream across audio streaming platforms has been released under the label of Warner Music India. Aastha mentioned that the first boost of confidence was given to them by the label.

“They gave us the confidence and pushed both of us to work further on it,” she said.

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