4 producers celebrate their South Asian roots through music

With eight nations, over 700 languages, and over two billion people, South Asia is rich in some of the world’s most influential and diverse musical traditions.

In November, we celebrated the vast sounds of South Asia alongside four inspiring producers who are pushing music forward—hear each creator’s stories and watch them arrange tracks that pay homage to their roots below.

Nikitaa showcases the distinctive timbres of India

Nikitaa is an LA-based singer, songwriter, and producer who was born and raised in India. Melding pop and R&B influences with their heritage, Nikitaa’s multilingual tracks have garnered millions of streams and views across platforms.

“I definitely like to celebrate my legacy,” Nikitaa shares. “I like to use Indian percussion and strings wherever I can over R&B and pop instrumentation.”

Watch Nikitaa’s process and hear their resulting track here, and get the samples they used here.

Ikky celebrates his favorite sounds

Ikky is a producer and composer who has made a name for himself with his distinctive blend of hip hop, pop, and Punjabi music. His collaborators include the likes of Karan Aujla, Shubh, Gurnam Bhullar, and Tory Lanez.

Ikky kicks off his track by arranging a series of curated one-shots from Splice in the DAW. Once he has a beat going, he ties everything together with some live instrumentation.

Watch Ikky’s process and hear his resulting track here, and get the samples he used here.

Chitra brings her own creative lens to Tamil poetry

Chitra is a vocalist, songwriter, instrumentalist, and producer. Her music blends introspective timbres with emotive vocals and a tugging sense of lyricism.

“I immediately called my mom to ask what her favorite Tamil songs were,” Chitra says. “She explained to me the history of the late Tamil poet, Bharathiyar, who famously wrote about the fight for India’s independence from colonial rule. I chose ‘Parukulle Nalla Nadu’ from his extensive work because it details how beautiful, strong, wealthy, and worthy of independence India was. Bharathiyar’s poems were put to song by the incredible Carnatic vocalist Sudha Ragunathan, which is who I am sampling.”

“I decided to name this track ‘Kavya’ because the word itself translates to ‘poetry’ in Sanskrit, and the phrase ‘Chitra-kavya’ translates to ‘picture-poetry,’ which is an ancient Indian tradition of writing illustrative poetry—making it all the more relevant when dialoging what legacy means to me.”

Watch Chitra’s process and hear her resulting track here, and get the samples she used here.

Leo Kalyan leans into his inspirations

London-based artist Leo Kalyan’s sound is one-of-a-kind—his soulful vocals and poetic lyrics are infused with his training in classical Indian music, and mesh seamlessly with his self-produced R&B beats.

“I wanted to show you how I find inspiration, using a Collection of sounds I found on Splice,” Leo shares. He begins by laying down an instrumental bed, and then applies his signature vocals over it to create the foundation for a new track.

Watch Leo’s process and hear his resulting track here, and get the samples he used here.

Stay tuned for more

And there you have it! We hope these sounds and stories inspired you to create something new—share your thoughts with the creators we featured in this article on Instagram, and make sure you follow us to hear more stories, insights, and beats from leading producers.

Kickstart your own productions with high-quality sounds from South Asia:

December 6, 2023

Harrison Shimazu

Harrison Shimazu is a composer, content strategist, and writer who’s passionate about democratizing music creation and education. He leads the Splice blog and produces vocaloid music as Namaboku.