If you go to THEMXXNLIGHT's website, the first thing you'll see is a picture of twin brothers Akash Chandani and Krish Chandani, followed by the phrase: "The New Wave of R&B."
Surely this self-proclaimed title comes with a lot of pressure, but the brothers are fully aware of how high the stakes are, especially after being featured on Wiz Khalifa's Rolling Papers II. "We definitely felt a bit of pressure," the duo said of their new-found fame following the release of the project. "It wasn't really in a bad way, we just knew that we needed to go harder than ever, but we didn't wanna stress ourselves out." Khalifa's producer Sledgren discovered the duo and vouched for the singers. Khalifa enjoyed them so much that he included them on three tracks on RP II. "Their sound, that's right now," Khalifa said of the twins.
It's clear from a first listen that the Chandani brothers take a lot of tips from The Weeknd: the hazy production, the eerie lo-fi vocals, the deep 808's. Those similarities are not an accident. "We had many lessons in various instruments, but had no initial interest in singing," Akash said. "However, when The Weeknd released House of Balloons while we were in high school, we immediately found a connection to his music and started singing his songs around school." The duo was encouraged by friends to take singing seriously, and the duo's love for music started to take hold. "When we first started, our parents told us to keep it as a hobby since studying Engineering was a major aspect of our lives at the time," said Krish. "We understood that we needed to focus on school, but we couldn't function without recording at least once a week."
While their parents remained stringent, they eventually carved out time for the duo to practice, allowing them 2-3 sessions a week as long as their music didn't interfere with homework. "We kept it up for about three years, and almost stopped making music because of how busy we were getting with college," Akash added. "But then Sledgren messaged us during our senior year, and everything changed." Their parents have since come around, and the duo did graduate with degrees in Industrial Systems Engineering from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "Our parents guide most of our decisions," Akash said, "and we're very thankful for that."
Familial love is the primary driving force behind THEMXXNLIGHT. The brothers' parents, who are from Mumbai and Bangalore, exposed the twins to a slew of Bollywood music growing up like A.R. Rahman and Atif Aslam. THEMXXNLIGHT make an active effort to embed this influence into their music. "We would always hear our parents sing along to Bollywood songs and the melodies would get stuck in our head," Akash said. "Naturally, when we started to make our own music, we drew inspiration from those unique melodies." They're set to release their first official Bollywood song on February 27th.
Surprisingly, the twins have always worked incredibly well together, even amidst the pressures of newfound fame. "Most siblings we know tell us they could never work so closely and still be best friends," Krish said. "We do have our fair share of arguments, but we feel that it helps create the best product because we each come up with unique ideas." As their 2019 kicks off, the duo already upped their game with a new single featuring rapper 24hrs. Now the next objective: get people to be able to tell them apart. "Honestly everyone famous we have met has said we look exactly alike," Akash said. "Some have asked and tried to point out the differences, but people just call us 'moonlight.'"
Mackenzie Cummings-Grady is a creative writer who resides in the Brooklyn area, Mackenzie's work has previously appeared in The Boston Globe, Billboard, and Metropolis Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @mjcummingsgrady.
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