THEMXXNLIGHT duo is the R&B identical twins: Akash and Krish Chandani. Recently, they released 3 new songs on Wiz Khalifa’s new album, Rolling Papers 2! The songs on the album include Mr Williams feat. THEMXXNLIGHT & Curren$y, All of a Sudden, and Homework. Not only have these talented artists created many songs, but are also Industrial Systems Engineering graduates from one of the most prestigious Engineering schools in the world. They are the first ever South-Asian American R&B artists and first Engineering majors to be featured on such a mainstream platform.
When did you two first start gaining interest in music?
Growing up in California’s Bay Area with a family that has love for all kinds of music, especially both American and South-Asian R&B and Jazz, we have always had a knack for understanding unique melodies. We grew up very cultured, traveling to all parts of the world and learning about all the artistic and historical inspirations the world has to offer. While attending the prestigious Harker School in San Jose, we discovered an artist called The Weeknd through a release called “The Zone” with Drake, which inspired us immediately due to the familiar unique melodies that are incorporated within South-Asian Bollywood music. After some research, we learned that The Weeknd was inspired from his own Ethiopian background, which is a very similar style to Indian or Middle-Eastern music. We never took a voice lesson in our lives, but attempted singing one of The Weeknd’s songs from his first ever mixtape titled “House of Balloons“. We sang some of his songs around our school campus and fellow classmates would comment that we had a unique and extraordinary voice. Thus, we started off making covers of some songs and posting them online on SoundCloud. After gaining some local traction (within our friend groups) with our song covers and while attending our second year of engineering college at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York, we created our first original song titled “No Problems“. The process took two weeks to write and master the vocals on the track. But it turned out beautiful and to this day, fans still say it is one of their favorite songs ever. The way we create music is and has always been completely raw and natural. Instead of going out to party, we would sit alone in our room in the dark to write and record our songs. Over time, the writing process became smoother for us. Now we can knock out bangers in a few hours.
What motivated you both to create THEMXXNLIGHT?
We were actually called LUVKUSH, which was based on the Indian mythological twins from The Ramayana epic. The same thing, identical twin R&B duo. However, a promotional company from San Diego called Love Kush attempted to sue us based on the similar names. We didn’t let that stop us though. We discussed with our lawyer and came up with a dope name for us, THEMXXNLIGHT. Our last name Chandani translates directly to “The Moonlight” in Hindi.
What was the inspiration behind THEMXXNLIGHT’s tracks on Rolling Papers?
During the month of July 2017, one of the main producers of Taylor Gang named Sledgren (Wiz Khalifa’s Label under Atlantic Records) reached out to us via direct message on Twitter. We were shocked that a verified Grammy Nominated producer with 120,000 followers messaged us himself saying that he heard our song “Drunk” and is a huge fan of our sound, tweeting about us and calling us “the future of R&B”. After talking with him for a few weeks, he sent us a few beat packs with co-production from some fellow Taylor Gang affiliated producers who have all produced for Wiz Khalifa and other massive artists. Over the past year, we have recorded on 18 tracks produced by Sledgren and his affiliates. Now we have a full 15 song album almost finished, ready to be released in late August or September. We have built an amazing relationship with Sledgren…we thank God every day for that first message he ever sent us…Sledgren is the man. Throughout this process of recording and sending songs back and forth with Sledgren, Wiz Khalifa and his managers heard a glimpse of our sound and were immediately in love. In March 2018, Sledgren informed us that Wiz Khalifa recorded one of our songs. And after receiving approval and rave reviews from Usher and his management team, Wiz then included our song in his Rolling Papers 2 album folder. A couple months later, when we visited Wiz Khalifa in New York for his album listening party, he personally called us “living legends”, and told us we have “the freshest and newest sound out there right now”. He said he wanted to be the first major artist to introduce us to the world and even informed us that not one but THREE of our songs would be on his newest album. We sang the hooks on all three songs and signed a contract with all credit being given to us as THEMXXNLIGHT being the featured artist on those songs. Rolling Papers 2, which released on July 13, 2018, is Wiz Khalifa’s peak moment of his career and probably his most anticipated album ever! We are very thankful to Wiz, Sledgren, and Taylor Gang for believing in us and giving THEMXXNLIGHT a chance to shine.
Who are your musical inspirations?
The Weeknd was our first inspiration. We were so enamored by his sound and how similar it was to middle eastern/Indian vibes. We are also inspired by many Bollywood musicians such as A.R. Rahman, Atif Aslam, Arijit Singh, and many others.
How has your Indian heritage influenced your music?
Our Indian heritage has played a HUGE part in our music. In every song we have created, we incorporated some sort of classical Indian style whether it’s in the main vocals or adlibs. Growing up with Indian parents and watching countless Bollywood movies, our music taste and our way of singing naturally has Indian vibes. We make music because we love it more than anything in the world, but we also want to put India on the map in the music scene as we are the first ever South-Asian American R&B duo to be on a mainstream platform like Wiz Khalifa’s Rolling Papers 2 Album. Much love to Wiz, Sledgren, and Taylor Gang.
As twins, has it been difficult for people to differentiate?
This has always been an interesting topic for us. Ever since we were very young, our teachers would always confuse us in class. This carried through all the way to our college as all the professors would mix up our grades on exams. We would always get frustrated because we didn’t think our peers spent time to get to know us individually. They would always just group us as one entity. In terms of our music, we actually aim to portray the solo image, because we feel it provides a feeling of mystery for the listener. Some people can notice that it is two different voices at certain parts, but most assume that it is just one person. This is clear based on the Twitter response to our features on Rolling Papers 2. Slowly, people are commenting on our pictures about how refreshing our sound and image is so it’s only a matter of time before the world catches on.
Congrats on your recent graduation from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute! How did you both balance music along with academics?
This was the toughest part about our college experience. We are extremely proud of ourselves for being able to graduate from one of the top engineering schools in the world while still pursuing our passion. Each day after we finished our homework, we would sit at the mic in the bedroom and record for hours. Sometimes we would be up till 6-7am finishing a song, even when we had class the next day. If you love what you do, nothing can stop you from achieving your dreams.
What do you both like to do in your spare time?
We were actually recruited to our college to play basketball! Basketball was a huge aspect of our lives before music came around, but we still play a few times a week. In our free time at home, we work with our parents’ real estate company. They have built their business for 30+ years and it’s amazing to see them work so hard at it. We also love to draw and cook!
Our UrbanAsian team wishes you both much success and happiness in your life. May this talent of yours lead to further success and we look forward to listening to more of your work this year!