Akash and Krish Chandani discuss their popularity among Indian and American audiences, challenges and future releases
Indian-origin American R&B duo THEMXXNLIGHT’s Krish aka Luv and Akash aka Kush Chandani (from left). Photo: Courtesy of the artist
In 2004, Bay Area twin brothers Krish Chandani and Akash Chandani fired up GarageBand and began making music in their dorm room. At the time, they were already multi-instrumentalists, picking up saxophone, violin, guitar and drums. Akash says, “We were just uploading our tracks every couple months on SoundCloud. To be honest, it was a hobby and we just found it fun to record music in between our homework assignments for school.”
In the last decade of properly launching (and thriving) as R&B/pop duo THEMXXNLIGHT (pronounced “The Moonlight”) and picking up collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights like Wiz Khalifa and producer Sledgren, the Chandani brothers also did the desi thing and got engineering degrees along the way.
Assuming the monikers of Luv (Krish Chandani) and Kush (Akash Chandani), THEMXXNLIGHT agree that there’s still hurdles aplenty for brown artists. Krish says, “There are many challenges that people who aren’t Indian wouldn’t even think of, such as being from an engineering/business minded family where music wasn’t even a consideration as a career and it was tough proving to our family that we could make it our career.”
He acknowledges his privilege about being born in California, where “a sense of lingo and culture” informed how they sing and make music today. Akash adds, “I really feel that brown kids should be allowed to explore their passions. Thanks to our parents, we were allowed, and sometimes forced, to participate in extracurricular activities. There are tons of dope brown artists out there that just need the opportunity to be heard.”
THEMXXNLIGHT’s global moment arrived as recently as 2018, when they were contacted by producer Sledgren (the brothers told him they couldn’t afford his beats, he said he wanted to work with them) and ended up providing honeyed hooks on luxuriant Wiz songs like “ “Homework,” “All of a Sudden” off Rollin’ Papers 2 in 2018 and “G.O.A.T. Flow” and “All For You” (off 2019’s Fly Times, Vol. 1: The Good Fly Young). They also hit big numbers with their own songs “Don’t Play” and released their debut album LUVKUSH, all in the same year as Rollin’ Papers 2.
Just as Wiz Khalifa made his way into India (first in 2017 and then again in 2019), THEMXXNLIGHT also stepped into building a fanbase here, performing alongside Wiz at his Sunburn Arena shows in Mumbai and Delhi NCR. While they were in India, they tapped everyone from Sukriti and Prakriti Kakar (“Mashallah”) to Emiway Bantai (“Night Rider”) and Ikka (“Intezaar,” which followed their 2019 collab “Body Language”). Krish agrees it’s boosted their fanbase, while Akash adds that they’ve had that advantage of leveraging their Indian identity. “Being able to work with major artists from the U.S. and India at the same time is a blessing. We will continue to do so and ensure that both fan bases increase at an equal rate because at the end of the day, we are of Indian descent, so why not do it for the culture?” he says.
The last year has understandably shifted THEMXXNLIGHT’s focus to releasing singles, including their latest called “Feel.” The song hits like a sleepless night of frustration directed at a significant other, juxtaposing anger with chill R&B production by Chicago-based RMB Justize (who also regularly works with Wiz Khalifa). Krish calls it “one of the hardest tracks we have ever released,” placing it in the mood of aggressive yet romantic. With every forthcoming release, they’re making moves in the hope that will lead up to that one big hit. Scoring that one chart-scaling, multiple millions-streamed, acclaim-gaining record is definitely on the agenda for THEMXXNLIGHT, as Krish says. “We have 100-plus unreleased songs, so the moment we get that one worldwide hit, then we surely have the material to put out consistent hits,” he adds.
It could be an R&B track, one of their forthcoming EDM/pop songs or the several collaborations in the works. Krish namechecks everyone from hip-hop star Raja Kumari to Punjabi artists like Sukh-E and Mickey Singh for India. On the global front, THEMXXNLIGHT will be sharing space with hip-hop star Megan Thee Stallion soon. Akash says, “Megan actually reached out to us over Instagram DM a little while back and asked us to hop on a track of hers, it’s such a banger! Can’t wait for it to release.”
Krish adds that there’s also songs with Wiz Khalifa (due later this year), TM88, DJ Snake, Kirko Bangz and Roy Woods, among others. “We are filming a bunch of music videos and just grinding. Really excited for the future though, we got some crazy stuff dropping,” he says.
Listen to “Feel” below. Stream on more platforms here.