This May Sting a Lil: GMB

Our favourite thing since the renascence of fembot5 as FEMWAV is got to be the support of the community within itself. As we discover and chat with more women musicians, they continue to direct us to even more of them, slowly yet steadily dispelling the 'there just aren't that many women interested in electronic music' myth. This positive feedback loop recently led us to GMB - the alias adopted by Mehar Bedi of Chandigarh, India who is now living in Doha.

Mehar has kept a steady stream of releases coming out via her Soundcloud for nearly two years. Going back in time with her, listening to her past releases, there is undeniable evidence of evolution and growth in both her ear and skills. This is not surprising, considering she is putting in the time and effort required to cultivate this refinement. Bearing testament to this work is that fact that she has been releasing a track every ten days, and will continue to do so till the end of this year. Her drive to be better becomes more pronounced as we learn how these songs were originally meant to be on her debut album before she decided to shift gears a bit.

How have your experiences shaped your musicality? You mentioned your transition to Doha affected your decision to release ready tracks as singles instead of an album - what changed?

Absolutely. I feel like my taste in music is ever-evolving and it has everything to do with what I’m going through in life at that point in time. I moved to Doha 4 months ago because I needed a change of scenery plus I wanted to focus on my art more. I had been in Chennai for so long, and I felt like I needed to be out of my comfort zone for some time. So when my parents told me they were moving here I jumped on that bandwagon. In these months here I’ve learned so much. I’ve grown as an individual and I finally defined my sound. I feel my music becoming more intricate and I felt like I owed myself some more time to put out the album the way I envision it. In the meantime, I’ve decided to rework the tracks that were previously supposed to be on the album and put them out every 10 days till the end of this year as they are still very dear to me.

In these recently released singles, Mehar has displayed some crisp sampling chops and an apparent affinity with hip-hop. Her songs all feel largely removed from current trends, hinting at a sort of RnB nostalgia and while this could have been a recipe for sounding dated and shackled to a certain era, Mehar takes these tracks in unexpected directions just as the listener is settling in nicely - see for reference the breakdown in 'Sting Report'.

Pinning her down to a single source of inspiration, however, can be tricky as diverse influences reign supreme in each of her tracks and beatmaking - from Basement Jaxx to Kaytranda - and not always consciously, but without robbing them of her individual lure.

I’ve always appreciated music from all genres. I essentially soak it all up and try to interpret it in my own way when I make music so I don’t think I have a single major influence. 

This polite rejection of subscribing to specific music schools could be misconstrued as a blanket dismissal of the electronic music scene and its proclivity for veering off into superficiality. This perhaps is true to an extent as in her own words Mehar expresses her dismay at the way Indian electronic music scene operates.

On one hand, there are some amazing artists as well as event companies doing a great job of creating wholesome spaces for music but at the same time, there is lack of focus on creating a homegrown scene. Everyone only wants to book big artists from abroad while the homegrown artists lose out and get paid so much lesser. 

She continues, specifically in the context of women artists:

I respect and appreciate all the women in the scene. Some of them are good friends and for the most part, I feel like there is a sense of camaraderie between us since we all face the common challenge of gender ratio imbalance in the scene, as the music industry in India still remains a boys club.
Also, female artists are treated as a novelty more than talent and that’s quite sad. To make it worse there is fierce gatekeeping based on how cool you might be seen as or who you know or who you are dating than how good you are at what you do. 

Mehar reiterates the need for mutual support to prop each other up by advocating for a "better sense of community and support between artists irrespective of seniority or gender. We really need to do away with the biases and programmers need to do a much better job of selecting artists and creating opportunity."

While any inclination to making grassroots changes remains to be seen among the Indian nightlife stakeholders, we take solace in the fact that new flesh and blood continues to pour in their flesh and blood into novel work. We are unreservedly intrigued by what Mehar will serve in way of her debut album, slated for August next year.

Written by Uvika Wahi