4 South Asian Artists You Need to Know, Chosen by Naina
Happy South Asian Heritage Month!
Each year, from 18 July to 17 August, this occasion celebrates South Asian history and culture. Naina is a DJ and Apple Music radio host who's based in London, and has been shaking up the airwaves with her blend of hard and fast dance music. Across the UK, you catch her this summer (or what's left of it) holding down slots at festivals such as We Out Here. She's previously appeared on London's biggest South Asian-focused music festival Dialled In, and via her own show on Tala Radio she champions South Asian creativity, bringing fresh sounds and emerging talent to the fore.
To bookmark this occasion, Naina has highlighted four South Asian artists you should be switched on to – if you're not already.
"I first discovered Hira through Paul Institute, a collective based in London which was founded by Jai Paul and his brother A.K. Both Jai and A.K. are legendary artists in their own right and have had an enormous influence on the culture, along with artists like M.I.A and SBTRKT. So as soon as I saw Hira was part of Paul Institute I knew he was something special, and his music spoke volumes.
He’s got such a unique way of blending R&B and pop whilst nodding to artists like Prince and Lenny Kravitz; his music is both refreshing and nostalgic at the same time, which is so impressive. I had to include him on this list because he’s got it all: the vocals transport you, the production and the different sounds he weaves together is a journey. Everytime I play Hira to friends, I’m sure I’ve introduced them to one of their new favourite artists. He’s the perfect getting ready to go out, using your hairbrush as a microphone, dancing in the mirror type of vibe."
Check out his Queen cover. It’s a very cool take on a classic band and Hira even spoke to Apple Music about how Freddie Mercury's South Asian heritage is often overlooked and this cover session was the perfect time to celebrate it! Also his ColorsxStudios performance is wicked, highly recommended you check that out too.
Listen to: Hira – Y from the Pure Gas EP.
"I discovered Mera Bhai through a collective called Daytimers. I worked closely with the founder of Daytimers when we did our first ever Dialled In Festival. Through events I slowly met more of the crew and different parts of different collectives, and crossed paths with Mera Bhai. It was one of those moments where I met him, so I checked out his music and then actually realised I'd heard his sound before. He’s so talented. He’s a multi-instrumentalist, producer, DJ and founding member of Flamingods, it’s been so fun watching his journey steadily grow.
If you check out his discography, you can hear all the different sounds to his artistry across his different EPs. He’s also collaborated with a lot of different artists too, all of his work and his collaborations show more and more skill and musical breadth. From more jazzy instrument-led EPs to more disco-led production, he’s truly in a lane of his own. It’s the perfect soundtrack for a sunny BBQ."
Listen to: Mera Bhai – Manana Groove from the Futureproofing EP.
"If you know me, you know I love dance music. And SUCHI is my new favourite dance producer. Back in 2021 she dropped a single called Swift, and two other tracks Lotus and Danshaug. I was completely hooked by her heavy breakbeat production especially on Danshaug. Played all those tracks out in clubs and on radio, and it always went off. But what I also admire is her ability to move around the genre. Since that release, she’s danced between different sounds of electronic music – all done with the SUCHI sound at the core. In particular, her release in 2022 on Jamz Supernova’s Future Bounce had a key moment: when she sampled Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
She’s done it again recently with a new EP on Spectral Sound / Ghostly International. It's called Birdy Bell and she's levelled up once again. So excited to see her on a roll and she never misses. Every release is a confident and a skilled portrayal of her artistry. Suchi is the perfect soundtrack to the rave, the pre-drinks and the rave afters."
Listen to: SUCHI – 100 Rupees from the Birdy Bell EP and her Tala Radio mix.
"I first saw Shivum Sharma’s name across a lot of Prestige Pak activities. They got him involved in some shows on Reprezent FM and a few PP parties (which always go off!). Prestige Pak are great at curation and I knew I had to check out Shivum's music. As soon as I heard his stuff I immediately knew I wanted to support this artist across Tala Radio.
He’s a singer-songwriter, DJ and producer. His voice is angelic – proper goosebump stuff. The last two tracks he dropped, 7am and Steel, are easily his best – the most confident and sultry release yet.
Between the vocals and the synthy Karma Kid production, he is one of the most exciting artists coming out of the UK right now. He’s also a trailblazer for QPOC and LGBTQIA+ artists and creatives, on a mission to spotlight young marginalised voices. If you wanna get all up in your feels, or elevate those feels even further, Shivum Sharma is the one for you."
Listen to: Shivum Sharma – Steel and his Tala Radio mix.