TIMD Awards 2021 Winners- The Best Of Indian Independent Music

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After a successful second year of TIMD awards, of celebrating, recognising and exploring talent in the Indian music industry, we finally have the winners for each category. While all these artists are from different backgrounds, what draws them together is great music! Let’s know more about these winners and what they have to say!

1. Best Music Video- Perpetuate by OAFF

Kabeer Kathpalia, who goes by the alias OAFF , is a Mumbai-based electronic artist and also the winner for the Best Music Video of TIMD Awards 2021. The video for his single ‘Perpetuate’ consists of cinematic montages which eventually blur into a series of lines, that complement the soaring soundscape in the song. Visually, this video has simple landscapes and scenes. It features ferris wheels, sunsets, cityscapes, windmills, and other simple things in life and around us, something which we can tend to overlook.

Kathpalia says that he was inspired by an orchestral section by minimalist composer Steve Reich in New York which was accompanied by a projection of a video made by visual artist Gerhard Richter. The video was just an hour of different coloured lines. “It was my favourite and probably most moving concert experience. I was captivated by its simplicity and beauty,” says Kathpalia. It was with long-time collaborator and film maker Karan Vaidya that Kathpalia came up with a similar music video accompanying the song, Perpetuate. There couldn’t be a more apt video with his instrumental track laced with soaring piano compositions and electronic music.

Check out the video here:

2. Best Album Artwork- Hacktivist by Trigger

Trigger, is a Delhi-based metal band whose artwork for their single Hacktivist, designed by illustrator Siddhartha Iyer, is the Best Album Artwork of TIMD Awards 2021.

Hacktivist attempts to express the agony of the down-trodden. It narrates the journey of a pupil who has initiated an uprising against an authoritarianist regime and its journey of exposing the horrors of such dictatorship through Hacktivism.

A hacker activist, or better known as a Hacktivist is someone who attacks computer systems for political reasons. This way a Hacktivist could and can be anybody. Hence, the band decided to keep it a faceless entity. “The hacktivist, for this very reason, in our world of unadulterated, violent, aggressive and non-deodorant using prog metal, had to be headless and very very large,” says the band. This huge headless figure is connected to a collective conscience and it depicts the power of common people. Surrounding the headless figure, are “masters” or dwarfed figures, representing the governments bowing down before the real power – the people.

The first picture which came to mind for the band was the last portrait of Bahadur Shah Zafar before the Sepoy mutiny in 1857. “Everything about how calm he looks in the painting, his ostentatious garb and how imposing his presence is in comparison to his surroundings, fit in perfectly with the ‘non-person’ entity we had in mind for the drawing,” explains the band.

“The hacktivist, in this utopian world, represents each and everyone behind a screen. Capable of creating real on-ground change. Making their leaders eventually bow to them and not the other way round”

Check out the song and the artwork here:

3. Best Debut Artist- Fakeer and The Arc

Bangalore-based hip-hop and jazz fusion band Fakeer and The Arc who released their debut three track EP ‘Ikigai’ are winner for the category – Best Debut Artist of TIMD Awards 2021.

The members met each other at Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music where they kick-started their career with jazz. However, their front man Fakeer had hip hop influences and they decided to mix both, jazz and hip-hop together. Thus, the inception of their debut EP.

The band members also have their own solo projects. Fakeer releases his solo hip-hop rap music whereas The Arc is a trio which makes jazz music and together, Fakeer and The Arc make jazz infused hip-hop and rap music.
As sugary, groovy and fun as their music appears to be, don’t be fooled! Their songs talk about darker themes such as depression, loneliness substance abuse, and life, something which all of us deal with, thus making it relatable. “The sound we are going for is a chill vibe and not very heavy. We don’t want the vibe to be too dark and so to counterpoint it, we make the melodies more sugary and happier,” says the band.

4. Best Hip-Hop Producer of the Year- Sez on the Beat

Sajeel Kapoor is known to be the man behind the sudden rapid growth of the Indian hip-hop scene. To add more to his list of achievements now, is being the winner of Best Hip-hop Producer of the Year category of TIMD Awards 2021.

Kapoor is the man behind the famous song by DIVINE ‘Mere Gully Mein’ from the movie Gully Boy which rekindled the Indian hip-hop scene for the mass. He has collaborated with renowned hip-hop artists in the music scene such as DIVINE, Prabh Deep, Badshah, Ritviz, Naezy, Ikka, Zaeden, Seedhe Maut, and more. He has not only made his name as a hip-hop producer in India, but also in International soils by collaborating with Chance The Rapper (upcoming/unreleased), Rich The Kid and others. 

Besides being a hip-hop producer Kapoor is also an entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of MVMNT which is a hip-hop collective and record label which he started with music executive Faizan Khan. It spans a record label, media enterprise, and soon a clothing line as well. The MVMNT embodies a ‘community-first’ ethos and champions the next generation of Indian artists and creators.

Check out some of his music here below.

5. Best Hip-Hop Release- Jaat Kya hai? By Madara

Delhi-based hip-hop artist and rapper Madara is known for bluntly talking against the government and about socio-political issues. This is why his latest single Jaat Kya Hai? was the winner of TIMD Awards 2021 as the Best Hip-Hop Release.

The song portrays the deep-rooted societal issues against caste and class system in India, an issue which everyone knows but very few openly talk about it. Being an upper caste Hindu with privilege, he thought it was high time he spoke about such issues and that it was his responsibility to do so.

“I believe that if I am talking about rape or any such issue, I have to go into the mentality of the victim. That’s how I will be able to describe that crime. But when you stand for something, you have to be ready for the consequences,” says Madara as he talks about the explicit threats and messages, he receives but he lives his life, being happy doing what he wants and not in fear.

Initially he used to never have his songs playlisted and nor would music journalists and publications interview him because of being scared of the government, despite them liking his music. But his song Tukde Tukde Gang? gained momentum and people such as Anurag Kashyap and Vishal Bhardwaj started talking and appreciating his work.

Jaat Kya Hai? is a song about issues that Madara has been noticing since a child and he also researched for five months before writing the song. “It is very difficult to get an audience for such type of music so when my song got selected, I was extremely happy that this song will reach more people and this prevalent issue will be more in the limelight.”

Check out this track here:

6. Best Electronic Artist of the Year- K.S Abhishek

It was because of ‘The Naani Song’ that music producer and singer-songwriter K.S Abhishek got recognised by the jury for the Best Electronic Artist category of TIMD Awards 2021. Abhishek came up with the idea for this song after listening to a traditional bhajan his naani used to festival celebrations in his village. His seamlessly infused electronic beats, into his bhajan, creating a contemporary fusion.

“I wanted the melody and the additional lyrics of The Naani Song to be straight from the villages of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The traditional folk lyrics helped me keep the whole vibe rooted to the places where Devanagari and Bhojpuri is the common language,” says Abhishek. The song features his naani’s and Sukanya Chattopadhyay’s vocals, giving it the perfect Indian classical vibes, which Abhishek was going for. He wanted the song to be quirky and dance worthy which he made sure by designing each and every sound heard in the track to make it sit right. Speaking more about the song, Abhishek says, “All the tiny details in the music production helped the overall sound of the song to elevate, stay true and guide the melody throughout.”

Check out The Naani Song here:

7. Best Singer-songwriter of the Year- Tejas

2021 makes the 10th year for singer-songwriter Tejas to be performing music and what better way to start the year if not being recognised as the Best Singer-songwriter of TIMD Awards 2021. “I have never won anything in my professional career, so it was a bit of a surprise for me,” says Tejas who gracefully acknowledged everyone who has supported him, especially his bandmates Adil Kurwa and Jehangir Jehangir who goes by the moniker JJ. His music brings together a variety of genres including rock, funk, R&B, soul and electronica.

“I’m so grateful to even be considered. Nobody told me. It was like TIMD has tagged you in a post and after checking I was like okay…wow!” exclaimed Tejas who jokingly also thinks that this award was also like a reminder to his fans of his existence since his last album was four years ago. He plans on releasing another LP later this year. Besides this, to mark his 10-year anniversary in the music scene he plans on recording a live story-telling type of documentation about things people don’t know about him and all the stories he’s gathered in these years. Tejas aims to be a mainstream artist by carrying the same values of the independent scene. His goal is to put the value systems of the indie scene on a mainstream platform that people can’t differentiate music created in someone’s bedroom versus something created in the best studios in the world.

Check out his music here below.

8. Best Album of the Year (Editor’s Choice)- Clowns by Trance Effect

Nagaland-based indie pop rock band Trance Effect’s EP Clowns garnered the attention of the Chairman of the Mahindra Group, Mr Anand Mahindra who appreciated the band in one of his tweets. Their EP Clowns bagged the Best Album of the Year (Editor’s Choice) of TIMD Awards 2021.

This female-fronted band was formed in 2017 when bassist Imnamaong Imchen got together a selected group of musicians such as Iuli Yeptho on the vocals, Sosang Lkr on the drums, Tako Chang and Temsujungba Jamir on guitars.

This five-track EP revolves around the theme of ‘time travel.’ “When we were creating the EP, the concept of ‘Time Travel’ struck our minds when we realized that the first verse of the track Clowns carries a distinct meaning – “If only I could travel, travel through time,” says the band and they thought to make this the torchbearer of the EP.

With groovy beats and Yeptho’s enigmatic vocals, the audience cannot help but  be immersed and hooked onto their music, throughout the EP.

9. Best Album of the Year (Jury’s Choice)- Lift Off by T.ill Apes

Bangalore-based neo-soul/ hip-hop band T.ill Apes ended up releasing their debut album Lift Off last year while just exploring a bunch of sounds together, which is now termed as the Best Album (Jury’s Choice) of TIMD Awards 2021 according to the jury. Besides neo-soul and hip-hop, the band does dabble into jazz and funk music too.

“Our whole point was to create a story line which ties throughout the whole album,” says the band as they explain about the co-relation between songs. Since it was their debut album and they were trying everything together, Lift Off seemed the most apt name as they were literally ‘lifting off’ with their professional career. The album starts with ‘Ignition’ which is a rendition of the Apollo 13 launch sequence.

The quirky artwork is a banana taking off is supposed to signify the band lifting off or taking off in a banana spaceship.  “All songs are trying to tell a story sonically, not necessarily lyrically but the songs are trying to tell a story of lifting off, being in the orbit. It’s like a sequence of lifting off and going up there,” says the band who will be releasing a full-length album of around 40-50 minutes worth of music this year.

The last song in the album ‘Spaceship 2020’ is about them (the band) lifting off, reaching a new planet. The story will continue in the next album about the exploration of whatever it is to come.

“It’s great that people are recognising our music and us and we didn’t expect it at all,” says the band who is extremely happy with their accolade.

10. Best Song of the Year (Public Choice)- How Many by Armaan Malik

How Many was Armaan Malik’s third English single which reached 10 million views in the span of three months. It is also the winner of the Best Song of the Year (Public Choice) of TIMD Awards 2021. This song is about not knowing when to call it quits in a relationship. The basic question he tries to put forth in this song is – how many times are you willing to try?

This 25-year-old singer-songwriter began his career from the age of 10 and can also sing in about a dozen languages! He is also the first Indian artist to have his music to hit Number One on Billboard’s Top Triller US and Top Triller Global Charts. He has also bagged MTV Europe Music Award (EMA) for ‘The Best India Act’ for his single Control in 2020. Malik has also performed more than 200 shows around the world and is the youngest Indian origin singer to have performed at London’s Wembley Arena.

Check out the song here:

11. Best Song of the Year (Public Choice)- Alag Aasmaan by Anuv Jain

Anuv Jain is a Ludhiana-based singer-songwriter who rose to fame right after his first recorded single Baarishein with 15 million views. Alag Aasmaan was his fifth single and also the winner of the Best Song of the Year (Public Choice) of TIMD Awards 2021. This track has garnered over three million views on YouTube and that is definitely commendable for a fifth single by an artist!

Goodbyes in a long-distance relationship are always difficult and never good. The amount of uncertainty of meeting that person are tremendous. This song talks about a similar situation as Jain weaves a story through his silken vocals where a girl leaves a guy’s place to go back home, to a different city where even the sky is different, or to a city with an alag aasmaan. This acoustic song, with ukulele strumming and Jain’s heartfelt lyrics sure strike a chord with people who feel the same.

Check out the song here:

Our Sponsors

CD Baby, one of the world’s largest independent music distributors, entered the Indian market in October 2019. Ritnika Nayan, who is also part of our jury was appointed to be the Indian representative of the US-based music distributing agency. Nayan also represents DashGo, which is CD Baby’s sister company. The company is said to have 19 representatives operating in 25 countries around the world. According to Tracy Maddux, CEO of AVL Digital, parent company of both CD Baby and DashGo, claims this expansion to be a great sense of commitment and belief in the future of indie music in India. Maddux also calls the company to be an “anti-label” with representing over 9 million tracks.

MULO is the brainchild of two former Flipkart managers Archisman Chatterjee and Aniket Ghosh Chaudhary who bonded over their love for music and decided to quit their job to come up with MULO. With a vision to create an audio ecosystem for the Indian audience, and to create affordable audio products – MULO has risen to be one of India’s fastest homegrown audio products brands. The brand derived its name from the words “Music Lovers” and this passion for music has really helped the brand reach where it is now.

With this, we’d like to wrap TIMD Awards 2021 and wish a hearty congratulations to all the winners and everyone involved in the process of making the music. We’d also like to thank our sponsors CD Baby and MULO without whom TIMD Awards 2021 wouldn’t have been a success. We hope to be back with a bigger and better version of TIMD Awards next year!