Zyakuni In My Backyard (ZIMB) is a Delhi-based pop/rock independent band. The band name was conceptualized by Shraddha Jennifer Singh and Anushka J Datta in the year 2016, when both were still in high school. Interestingly, the band’s name came up when one of their friends gave them the idea to put together their Instagram usernames together (@zyakuni + @zombieinmybackyard). Though the name in itself has no exact meaning, the band members hope that their listeners eventually associate a happy memory with the music of the band.
The six-member band include Shraddha and Anushka on the vocals, Noel Sakhi on the keys, Aradhya Khurana on the bass, Aman Masih as the drummer and Rahul Bhandari as their main guitarist. All of them started their musical journey from a young age, and have varied musical interests from rock and metal to jazz and pop. When asked about their sources of inspiration, they said, “Like any other artist, our songs are also influenced by our own personal experiences and stories. For our sound, we find our inspiration in artists like Phum Viphurit, Rex Orange County, and Joji.”
Their debut EP, going by the same name ‘Zyakuni In My Backyard’ is a formidable force to reckon with. The synth-pop electronic elements on almost all of the tracks are a delight to hear. Most of the songs on this EP are based on the themes of love, heartbreak and longing. Each song is crafted with wisdom and tasteful lyricism. Vocalists Anushka and Shraddha have a wide vocal range, and their voices compliment each other beautifully. Melodic guitar sounds, a blend of pop and rock, along with the depth and charm of its vocals, make this album a noteworthy listen.
The first track ‘Parking Lot’ is a pop-infused rock track, where the artist is asking their lover to let them go as they don’t feel a sense of belongingness in the relationship. Vocalists Anushka Dutta and Shraddha Jennifer Singh deliver an endearing set of vocals and harmonies on this song. There’s a certain sense of departure and melancholy in this track, even though the instrumentals are quite upbeat. A special characterization of this track are the funky trumpet sounds right after the chorus, which was a surprising turn, in a good way.
The second track ‘Missing Bridge’ is a solemn and mellow love song. Lingering on the themes of self-love and longing, the vocals are hauntingly reminiscent of a love story that is fraught with difficulties. The third track ‘Glow: Fade’ is a song which comes from two different perspectives of the same relationship. It talks about the importance of learning to let go once a relationship has run its course. Shraddha sings one perspective and Anushka, the other. The story of the two sides, meet at the acknowledgment that they made each other glow, and the two voices in the song come together to sing harmoniously. ‘Eliza’s Cure’, the fourth track, packs a punch with a heavy bass and high-powered vocals. “We are avid listeners of true crime podcasts, so when we had the idea of writing about a murder, we knew we had to jump on it. The song follows a girl named Eliza who is sick and tired of living constantly under the male gaze, and takes to her own methods of dealing with it as her cure.”, Anushka and Shraddha add. ‘Storm’, the final track, again presents the vocal prowess of Shraddha and Anushka, with their vocals perfectly complimenting each other in every verse. “Do I like you, or are you a habit I’d hate to lose”, is a relatable line in the song for all of us. The track is about yearning and the confusion that comes when a person starts to have romantic feelings towards another. The song is also interspersed with Joji-esque electronic elements.
When asked about some of the challenges that they faced in their musical journey, the band members said, “Lockdown was the biggest challenge that we faced while writing/recording the EP. Also, being new independent artists, putting out original material has its own financial challenges from recording, distribution to other creatives of the EP, like the photoshoot, album art, etc. it all adds up to a large amount. There are also not enough venues to provide bands with the opportunity to play live shows. We somewhat overcame them by bending to the needs of the commercial venues so that we could self-fund our EP and everything related to its release.
Overcoming the challenges presented due to the lockdown, the band members discussed ideas and wrote songs via video calls and online engagement. Once the covid restrictions lifted, they finally got the opportunity to work on their songs together. Each member brought their own inputs and sounds which helped them to finalise the demos. “The EP does not have a particular theme that it follows, it is rather a compilation of songs in the genres that the band thoroughly loves.”, they add.
Zyakuni In My Backyard brings a distinctive style of music to the table, as it is composed of young musicians with their own dispositions. Their debut EP serves as a reflection of modern love and life. This album also enunciates the significance of storytelling in music, as each track is an intriguing and complete story in itself. Looking ahead, the band has plans to perform more live shows, at prominent music festivals. The main motto of the band members is to ‘enjoy the music that they make’ and I would certainly say that I did enjoy myself quite a lot while listening to this album, while grooving and headbanging to some of the tracks as well.