25-year-old identical twin brothers, Krish Chandani (Luv) and Akash Chandani (Kush) make up THEMXXNLIGHT, a popular Bay Area-based Indian-American R&B/pop collective. Recently, their second independent release of 2021, Naughty or Nice, premiered globally across all major streaming platforms in association with THEMXXNLIGHT Entertainment Corporation. On this record, they team up with frequent collaborators from the revered Taylor Gang camp producer Sledgren. The track also marks the duo’s maiden feature with the American rapper, Wiz Khalifa, on their independent release, making them the first artists of Indian descent to collaborate with the rap royalty.
In this exclusive interview, they talk among other things about how being young Indians who studied engineering influences their music, the challenges they have had to face as brown artists in the music industry, and their upcoming collaborations.
As young Indians who studied engineering, how does being Indian influence your musical sensibilities?
Krish (Luv): I believe being Indian has shaped our sound and voices in a way that we would have never imagined. We have had Indian-style melodies ingrained in our minds since we grew up listening to Bollywood music. We are very thankful for our culture and it’s a blessing to be Indian!
Akash (Kush): We have been brought up in a very tech-focused part of the world — the Bay Area! So, we have always had that natural flair for math/science/business. These skills play a huge role in our daily lives as musical artists as it helps with business decisions and even melody creation. Everything we do is very calculated and methodical!
What are some of the challenges you have had to face in your journey?
Akash (Kush): There are many challenges that come with being brown artists in the music industry. Luckily, we have been blessed with the opportunity to work with major artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Meg Thee Stallion, and many more. This has definitely helped the acceptance factor in the American industry. Overcoming community pressure was also a factor a couple of years ago, but now, all the uncles and aunties are loving our craft and we are really happy about that!
Krish (Luv): There’s a lot of politics in this industry, most of it is unnecessary, to be honest. But we have always found a way to power through most of it. We manage ourselves pretty much, so it’s been a tough journey full of hard work and sleepless nights but that’s what it takes!
Who are some contemporary artists whose work inspires you?
Akash (Kush): The Weeknd has always been our biggest inspiration!
Tell us about your recent collaboration with American Grammy-nominated rapper Wiz Khalifa for your latest song Naughty or Nice.
Akash (Kush): This collaboration has been the most anticipated release of our career so far! It came about in a very cool way, and we are super proud of it. When Wiz heard the song in the studio he loved it right away, 20 minutes later we had a hit song.
Krish (Luv): This collaboration is the highlight of our career since it’s our first track featuring Wiz Khalifa on our song instead of us featuring on his. We are so honored to represent our culture in the American music industry and this track definitely set us on a great path!
What was the idea, inspiration behind the song, its lyrics, and musical treatment?
Akash (Kush): As you know, our sound is R&B. This can mean a wide range of styles, but we go after that futuristic vibe. We wanted to create a track along those lines while implementing the same themes as a classic R&B track. The track is produced by Sledgren and Jacobi, who has produced a ton of hit records.
Krish (Luv): Many people experience a feeling of “being played with” in a relationship. In this case, we were referring to experiences we may have had where girls can be naughty or they can be nice. We tried to make the lyrics as catchy as possible and I think we accomplished that based on the feedback we have been receiving. We went through many versions of the song before deciding on the final one.
Tell us a little about some of your other collaborations with Megan Thee Stallion, Travis Scott, French Montana, Swae Lee, TM88, DJ Snake, Kirko Bangz, Roy Woods, Raja Kumari, Sukh-E, and Mickey Singh.
Akash (Kush): These are all huge collaborations that are waiting to drop! Some of these we do not have control over, but hopefully, the world can hear them soon. The Megan Thee Stallion song is a major hit! We have played it around for some major labels and the reactions have been amazing.
Krish (Luv): All I can say is that all these tracks are crazy fire and I can’t wait for the world to hear them. We are blessed to have worked with each and every one of these amazing artists and we look up to all of them!
What are you working on next?
Akash (Kush): We are working on tons more collaborations and our own solo tracks. We also work in real estate most of the day, which has become our greatest asset and also a big challenge. So, we look forward to balancing the two careers and merging them in a very unique way.
Krish (Luv): We have a bunch of unreleased songs and music videos, including some more amazing features!
Neha Kirpal is a freelance writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Wanderlust for the Soul, an e-book collection of short stories based on travel in different parts of the world.