We had the privilege of speaking with Nimish Sethi and Rishabh Bhola of Zeus x Crona, an electro-pop music duo from India. Their latest track, Back to You released in early September and has garnered more than 100,000 views on YouTube as well as more than 60k streams on Spotify. Numbers talk reality; listening to their music, you’ll definitely feel goosebumps and chills through their original electronic beats that combine gorgeous melodies and vocals.
With 120+ Million views/streams across platforms, Zeus x Crona has been recognised and supported by artists like Sonakshi Sinha, Tfue, Chainsmokers among others. The emotional piano breaks, thunderous bass lines, mesmerizing sound design and beautiful vocals leaves you wanting to come back to listen again, whilst finding yourself singing the lyrics in no time. With more releases coming on major labels, along with some independent launches, they are taking the term ‘meteoric rise’ to a new level within the independent music scene.
We had a great opportunity to talk to them about their music and upcoming releases via Zoom. Excerpts from the interview below:
Mirchi Play: What’s the story behind Zeus x Crona? What’s your story?
Nimish: Our journey began when we were in school. I was a drummer in my school band, and Rishabh had interest in music creation, especially electronic music. So I remember we were in 9th class and 14 years old, we met and uske baad when teachers were teaching us we just used to discuss music all the time. Then ek time tha jab we both thought ki, kuch karte hai. We really had interest ki kuch banaa sakte hai, saath mein. So I remember we started the Zeus x Crona project then, but we had no idea how we would do it. Us time pe koi hume sikhata nahi tha, and it was our beginning stage. YouTube was the only source jahaan se we learned everything.
I remember our first break was 2 years after we started the Zeus x Crona project. Humne ek idea banaya tha and we thought it had great potential. We just started, we didn’t care about the future much. So we sent the idea to Hughes, who is a crazy producer from India, and he liked the idea and wanted to work with us on that track. He worked on it, sent it back, and the next step was to get a vocalist on it because it sounded empty without one. I remember there was a vocalist from Los Angeles named Emma Sameth. I just messaged her with the track, saying we really want to work with her, that the song has great potential to do well in the market. (Laughs) And I had no idea about the market at the time. She heard it too and wanted to do the song. Within a week she sent it back, and that was how Pill sounded at the time. The two of us had goosebumps. Even my mom said “yeh hit hoga”. (Both laugh) It was really special.
We didn’t want to release it independently because a label would be a great support for us. I remember bohot labels ko bheja tha, but obviously starting mein no one wanted to work with us. Then we heard back from NoCopyrightSounds, which is a pretty big label, signing artists like Allen Walker, Suburban and all crazy artists right now. It was the best moment of our lives. We didn’t know ki track itna viral hoga, it’s sitting now at around 32 million on YouTube and over 20 million on Spotify. And this is how our journey started — with that particular song.
MP: Your journey started with “Pill” and has reached this point, with “Back to You” having just released! How was this song made? How did it all come together?
Rishabh: With Back to You what we had in mind was to make something emotional but powerful, and something that a layman could listen and chill to. We came up with the idea first, started with a basic chord progression, then finalised the drums and other sounds we could put in the track together and then sent it to Veronica Bravo who lent her vocals to it. She also was in X Factor! We loved how she did her work. Then we sent it to labels and LoudKult picked it up, which is a leading pop-songs label. It was released [a month ago] and I think it’s doing pretty well right now because it has over 100,000 views on our own YouTube channel and more than 60,000 listeners on Spotify as well.
MP: Which sounds like pretty good numbers, right.
Zeus x Crona: (Laughs) Yeah, it is.
MP: And considering you guys make music in this electro-pop genre, I was wondering if you know about how this genre is developing in India, where do you see it going and what position do you think you occupy in this space?
Nimish: I think the electronic music genre is booming in India right now. A lot of people are sending us demos for feedback. It’s like (laughs) har jagah se ek bandah hota hai joh music bana raha hai. There are great festivals organised by Sunburn, VH1, for electronic music. aur bohot zyaada diversify bhi ho raha hai. I remember I went to Avicii in 2013 and no one knew about electro music at the time. But right now our tracks are like reaching 100 million views, which shows that electro music is really booming.
Rishabh: I second what Nimish just said. The same year that he went to Avicii, even 2-3 years after that, when I used to ask around if people had heard the indie, pop, electro artists that we’d listen to, it was always a no. But today, practically everyone knows each and every artist. So yeah, electro and indie music is definitely reaching out to a lot of people, more than it was a few years ago. It is really a good stage for this music right now — not just in India, but everywhere.
Nimish: Also, if you’ve noticed in Indian movies, ab toh they’re adapting to the electronic scene. Everyone is making electronic music in Bollywood. So kaafi zyaada boom hai.
MP: So what’s next for Zeus x Crona? Anything lined up?
Nimish: Right now we’re planning to orient our music more towards the Indian audience. We’ve created more universal music, and now we really want to do something for our country. So Rishabh and I were thinking of combining classical vocals with electronic music, for instance. We love classical music and artists like Amit Trivedi, Rekha Bharadwaj, who are doing crazy things. That’s why we’re thinking of how to create music more for the Indian audience now.
Rishabh: Also, in order to incorporate Hindi and classical music and vocals in our tracks, I used to tell Nimish that jo log ko Hindi nahi aati hai, jo Hindi gaane sun nahi sakte, they are really missing out on something. So if we feel this way, we should also start making Hindi songs and incorporating Indian instruments. Even though we’re producing electro-pop today, and usually make English tracks, we really love Hindi music. So we want to add Hindi music, like songs by people we love — Arijit Singh, Amit Trivedi, Rekha Bharadwaj — to our discography.
Nimish: If you’ve noticed, the songs that we used to make pehle are very different from what we make today. We love experimenting with different sounds and never want to settle for anything. We keep changing different styles and genres and keep trying different things.
Rishabh: Yeah, like even if you listen to Back to You, you’ll find that in the second half we have a flute sample. So we are slowly moving towards these sounds as well.
MP: And it’s pretty great that Back to You was released under lockdown. What’s it been like, making music through this pandemic?
Rishabh: Even though the lockdown was [installed] for a sad reason, it’s been a good time for Nimish and I. Because we had the time to invest all that we could in our music. We could start in the day, get done by night and do it again the next morning. We really practiced a lot too, that way. The final product that we’ll deliver to the public will be better than what we’d release before because we had time to develop our skills. We also started picking up different instruments. Nimish started the flute, keyboard and singing.
Nimish: We’re taking this lockdown as a positive opportunity instead of a negative one, because we have time that generally nahi hota. And yeh hi time hai where we can experiment with different genres and sounds. Lockdown ki wajah se we’re focusing more on what can be done in the future — like a backup plan. It’s been good for us. But the year was a shitty one for a lot of people, which sucks.
MP: What are you guys currently listening to? Any recommendations?
Nimish: [points to his “Gully Gang” t-shirt]
MP: Ah, so you’re listening to Gully Gang, obviously.
Nimish: (laughs) We’re listening to a lot of rap, since we’re from Delhi especially. Divine is my favourite right now. I love how he writes about his life and makes tracks out of it. Artists like Rekha Bharadwaj and Arijit Singh are always my favourite.
Rishabh: I have been listening to Rekha, again, Amit Trivedi. I recently found out about The Local Train — I think I’m pretty late (laughs). Also Anupam Roy! I discovered him while scrolling through YouTube recommendations, and I started listening to him. I’ve been listening to his track on repeat these days.
MP: Any new Zeus x Crona music that we should keep an eye out for?
Nimish: Yeah, we have a release lined up for the first week of October.
Rishabh: We’re just waiting for its distribution to be done and then we’ll start dropping hints that we have a track coming up.
Nimish: It’s a dark track. We don’t usually make such dark ones. Normally ours are emotional and powerful. This is very dark and we did want to experiment with something different, so it’s good.
Follow Zeus x Crona on Instagram, Spotify and YouTube if you’re as pumped up as we are for their upcoming releases!