Akshara, the New-York-based South Asian ensemble, Akahara, puts South India’s rhythms together with modern sounds to create technically stunning and musically engaging songs like the “Mohana Blues” which mashes up konnakol (spoken rhythmic patterns) and tabla hand drums with lush washes of modern strings. Founder Bala Skandan and the members of Akshara come from a wide variety of backgrounds that merge jazz, Western classical, and Indian sensibilities and instrumentation. Skandan himself studied the barrel-shaped Indian drum, the mridangam, and the violin until he got into college, when he set music aside for a while. After graduating however, he began composing pieces that highlighted his chosen instrument and incorporated others, like the cello in songs that flow and swirl in the group’s new EP, In Time.
The Rigs are TJ Stafford and Caitlin Parrott who began collaborating in 2014. Both prolific songwriters on their own, their unique synth-pop meets gritty alternative rock sound immediately began gaining attention. Their tracks have been featured on major television shows like HBO’s True Blood, AMC’s The Walking Dead, NBC’s Parenthood, FreeForms Pretty Little Liars and many more. The mix of emotive vocals, harrowing melodies and unexpected instrumentation create music that has captivated audiences and critics alike. Their new single, Fall or Fly, is also making news, continuing the unique partnership that breaks rules, upends conventions and makes people feel good.