The significance, or the lack of it, of a name has been debated for ages. Perhaps even more questionable is the role a moniker plays in the life of a performance artist, particularly a musician. When it comes to Yung.Raj though, the name has proven to be quite prophetic. Still in his early 20s, he’s been actively involved in musical experiments for almost a decade now. He’s been a part of Voctronica, played with international heavyweights, has over 100 tracks on SoundCloud and is regularly praised by his contemporaries.
Raj Verma, or Yung.Raj, has been a rising star on the commercially underground scene that is Indian electronic music. Over the years, but particularly last year, his sound has been dominated by the lower end of frequencies inspired by experimental dub and hip-hop. A standout feature of his productions is how well he matches the low end with drum patterns that rage. Like most artists in the industry, he was hit pretty badly by the Live Scene shutting down due to the pandemic. But he took that time to produce a ridiculous amount of music and his latest EP, Unalive, is a testament to that.
With the release of UnAlive, yung.raj displays how much growth has happened behind the scenes, not just as a producer but as a person. On the whole, the EP is more wholesome, straying from the beat-bass heavy sound, to one that incorporates melodic elements that make the beat-bass sing. Of the EP he says, “The Unalive is sort of a reflection on the way I was feeling last year ever since the pandemic took over, had to cope with a lot of my emotions since I’d bottled them by only working on beats all the time. When everything came to a stop I got a lot of time to deal with all my feelings and eventually figured a way that lets me still work at a good rate but also giving time for things that do not involve music and spending time with your friends and loved ones and also yourself. It’s kinda difficult to put in words but essentially the EP is about all of that and coming to terms with it!”
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There seems to be a subtle progression in the tracks, going from mellow in ‘Oofie’ to banger in ‘Can’t U C’. The music is quite well written, in places experimenting with the beat pattern, in places exhibiting exactly the known comfort one needs to get lost in the music. It is not just the composition, but also how synchronous the sounds are with each other, that makes the 16 minutes you spend listening to it, coherent and pleasurable.
Yung.raj’s growth towards an evolved musical style, sharper skills and a conscious presence on the scene, is uncharacteristic for someone so young. It comes along with a strong work ethic, where he produces and releases music consistently, collaborates often and makes it work. Of his work ethic he says, “The work ethic of my fav producers like J Dilla, DJ Rashad, Madlib, Knxwledge etc is on another level altogether and so to even come anywhere close to it I gotta put in the best I can everyday! If I don’t finish my music and put it out, it takes longer for me to work and come across newer ideas, in order to facilitate that it’s atleast important to keep making beats and keep your head active. I understand it’s totally a personal choice at the end of the day though as some people work very differently and there’s no ‘one’ way to do things, however I’d say that you’re the best one when it comes to deciding if your music is good for you or not, so if you like it there’s no reason you shouldn’t be putting it out and sharing it with the world, it might just make someone’s day better and you’ll be able to let it go and keep the ideas flowing!”
As an aspiring artist, it is very fulfilling to see hard-work being rewarded. Often, particularly with the proliferation of social media, we forget the work that goes behind climbing up the ladder, regardless of who you are. Of his journey so far, yung.raj says, “It’s been a big learning experience so far, from putting out my first release to now being able to work with labels that I’ve always looked up to. Staying consistent and keeping it honest to myself have been the key factors that allow me to work the way I do without compromising! I try not to think too much about my place in the scene locally or globally and let the music talk, both to me and for me, if that makes sense.”
As humble as ever, he is excited by the talent in the Indian electronic music industry and looks forward to the collaborations that are bound to come out of great minds coming together. Going by his latest EP and his plans for the future, which include possible international gigs, yung.raj, as his name suggests, is truly here to rule!