Komorebi's Niche: Making it as a Female Electronic Artist
We speak to Tarana Marwaha ahead of our event on the indie music scene
TheCitizen.in is hosting a panel discussion on the independent music scene in India, on June 20th, 6 pm, at Oxford Bookstore, New Delhi. Tarana Marwaha, known as Komorebi to the world, is on the panel. We speak to Tarana about her about her influences, challenges and more.
Find out more about the event here.
Among the host of inspired independent music acts that captivate the Delhi scene, the multi-layered ambience of Tarana Marwaha's project, Komorebi, stands out. Taking shape through rigorous, eccentric electronic beats, her music allows the listener to traverse new sounds and sonic worlds. Her journey has seen her emerge as one of the most recognizable faces in the indie electronica scene, enduring her fair share of ups and downs, especially as a woman making it big in an industry dominated by men.
Her story, however, starts much before the glittering highs of her rapid ascendancy. In conversation with The Citizen, Komorebi talked about why she started making music in the first place. “I found myself drawn to soundtracks at a very young age, from television,” she said. “Primarily original soundtracks from anime (at the start), this became a love of scores and finally, performance arts. I started with western classical piano and moved to jazz later when I became a teenager.”
Having traversed through diverse periods of musical interest, her work, too, displays variance in terms of influences, while being spectacularly individualistic at the same time. “I love Shiro Sagisu, who composed the soundtrack for Bleach, and I’m also a huge fan of old-school piano in Inuyasha and the prog in Death Note (all well-known anime series),” she said.
Interestingly, electronic music was never Komorebi’s first choice. “I realised I was good at it – this made me want to do it more and more, and I got better,” she told The Citizen. 'Better', in the view of her many dedicated listeners, would be an understatement. Her eclectic style brings together a variety of sounds - through impeccable musical textures, harmonies and synth arrangements.
However, it would be prudent to assume that making it this far has not involved obstacles, from every direction. Speaking specifically about the difficulties of remaining driven in a materially unfulfilling, and stereotypically outcasted industry, she says that the everyday is challenging and rewarding in equal part. "I wake up feeling motivated and go to sleep disappointed some days. Other days it’s the opposite," she said.
Conversely, however, moments of inspiration also burst forth, almost out of nowhere at times. "I was at a two-day rave in Goa once and was approached by a wide eyed individual, who asked me excitedly if I was Komorebi. In that moment, time and place were hilarious to me, and we proceeded to discuss my music in the midst of 50 people who were dancing, and couldn't care less! It was great," she told The Citizen.
One must further appreciate her most remarkable breakthrough, in light of the inherently high barriers for Indian women aspiring to take up music in an independent capacity. Entrance into the electronic music scene, in particular, is plagued not only by skeptical family members, but also by structural, prejudicial, and monetary roadblocks - meaning that most of the genre's Indian exponents are male. Despite this, Komorebi has managed to carve out her own niche, a reality crystallized in the fact that she has performed at leading music festivals across the country, and abroad, in the past few years. "The niche thing wasn’t by design - I’ve always had a natural inclination to styles that were left of centre, and it can be a pain at times," she told The Citizen.
Whether she envisioned it that way or not, her uniqueness receives his appreciation - made evident by the fact that the arenas of Bacardi NH7 Weekender 2018, Mag Fields 2018, and SXSW – Texas 2019, are stages that few Indian female electronic artists have notably performed on in the past.
These issues do not, however, worry her overtly, in the face of strong ties of solidarity between women who continue to make independent music. "I feel happy and proud to be doing what I’m doing," she said. "There aren’t as many girls in the scene, but there’s a lot of love and support between us lot!"
Few genres mark the distinctness of the shift away from a world where successfully making music was all about skill with an instrument in hand, like electronica does. Visual effects, backdrops, and lighting have become as important in creating an engaging environment for the live listener, especially with music as deeply resonant and ambient as Komorebi's is.
"They change the entire experience, to have a more engaging live set up, of course," she says. It's not always easy, however, as not all venues and organizers are equipped with adequate facilities. "We aren't always lucky to be provided with the same - but on such occasions we make sure we’re looking half decent," she adds.
Outside of the world of music, Tarana is a huge foodie and a gamer. Her online presence is replete with examples of her interest in the aforementioned.
Komorebi's musical oeuvre, that includes popular tracks such as ‘Kyoto Breeze' and ‘Miyazaki's Dream’, serves as an inspiration for scores of young, talented artists, looking to make their break in the indie scene. She owns the uniqueness of her influences and her sound with bubbling confidence, and is emphatic about creating what she enjoys making. Not only this, but the fact that she has made significant headway as an individual, independent female electronic artist, could spur on more women to pursue their musical ambitions seamlessly, regardless of the extremely restrictive, and biased conditions that the scene curates talent in.
Catch Komorebi discuss her journey and her music in further detail, at "Revolutions Per Minute", presented by The Citizen and Oxford Bookstore, on 20th June 2019.