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#HauteSounds: This New Indie Band From Mumbai is All About Soul

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Thanks to popular culture, we know how certain Japanese words and phrases are ridiculously deep and philosophical, finding a way to say so much in a single, succinct expression.

And the latest phrase we’re familiarising ourselves with is Kimochi Youkai, which loosely translates to ‘feel good demons’.

That’s the name this up-and-coming Mumbai-based neo-soul/hip-hop band goes by. They came together in November last year, and have only just played their first, original-heavy set at the gig series Generation WHY in June.

Turns out their first-ever gig, however, was at the Nariyal Paani Festival in Alibaug earlier this year. Vocalist Ambika Nayak says, “After Nariyal Paani, we played at Tuning Fork, The Stables, and The Little Door. All these gigs, except the last one at Antisocial – which was Generation WHY – were covers. We were getting to a point where we wanted to put out our own music.”

Comprising Ambika, keyboardist Nirmit Shah, drummer Dhruv Sarker, guitarist Bishan Pukhrambam, and bassist Vishal Singh, the band was originally slated to perform at a hotel, which they were prepping for with a 2-hour, all-covers set that ranged from Frank Ocean to Kendrick Lamar, and more.

Ambika adds, “All of us met at True School Of Music, which is where we jammed and stuck together because it was fun.”

In the school atmosphere — where Ambika is taking a vocal course, while the rest of the members learned production and their respective instruments — Kimochi Youkai were encouraged to write music, jam, and play gigs. But it was only when the Generation WHY gig came their way that they sat down to write 4 tracks.

Ambika says it’s not that difficult to scope out gigs as a new band. “If you have an interesting sound that people like, why would they say no? If your performance is fun, why would any venue say no?”

One of their first songs perhaps sums up why they call themselves Kimochi Youkai. Ambika says about the track Want It, “It’s a song about a woman who wants another woman but can’t have her. It’s as simple as that. But it could mean a lot of things – sometimes you really want something, and you know it’s not good for you, but you want it anyway. It can get frustrating. It starts off in a pop-ish, happy vibe, after which it gets a little darker.”

Kimochi Youkai’s live members also include guest vocals from Mallika Barot, a faculty member at True School Of Music. Ambika says the band is working out a gig this month, but also have plans to work on more tunes and record them.

She says, “We’re in talks with a few producers – that’s our priority right now.”

Check out the video above to get a feel of their performance at Nariyal Paani.


Anurag is a Bangalore-based music journalist who spends his time looking for great music and rare Pokémon.

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