Meet the Hyderabadi singer making waves in the indie-pop music scene

Hyderabad-based singer Peekay, aka Pranati Khanna, has collaborated with many talented artists for her latest single ‘You Don’t Have To’. She recently performed at The Piano Man Jazz Club in her first live gig post-pandemic.
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Artists will unanimously agree that their best work is a reflection of their own lives and situations. Hyderabad-based singer and musician, Pranati Khanna, aka Peekay, whose latest hit single ‘You Don’t Have To’ released in July in collaboration with popular music producer Jonathan Edwards, vouches for this.

“In every relationship - romantic or otherwise - mistakes are made and feelings are hurt. Sometimes, despite the hurt, people decide to stay on in the relationship. This results in years of ‘I'm sorry’ and ‘You don’t have to apologise. I chose to stay’. I love making fun of awkward situations like these because I’m the queen of being in them, which adds a humorous touch to the video,” shares Peekay with candour.

The song

‘You Don’t Have To’ is a labour of love for many. Directed by Hari Charan, the video has been shot and edited by Couch Potato Productions, 3D artist Daniel Sharma made the visuals, and mixed and mastered by Keshav Dhar.

Peekay’s outfit in the video has been sponsored by Hyderabad-based sustainable fashion label Cancelled Plans, known for repurposing waste material into trendy clothes.

Speaking about her main collaborator Jonathan Edward, Peekay says, “Eddy, as I call him, is one of my dearest friends. He’s been a big brother to me through my angsty years singing for our band The Ragamuffins, later called Spell Check. So, he knows me, my music, my stories - all of it. Working with him is much like Billie Eilish and Finneas – it’s effortless and the music is perfectly translated from my head to people’s ears!”

The production and completion of the song and video took over a year, and it is available for streaming across all major platforms.

Singer Pranati Khanna

Reception

With over 61,000 views on Peekay’s YouTube channel, ‘You Don’t Have To’ has been well liked by fans and the public alike. The song premiered on VH1 and Rolling Stone India.

“All my friends and big names in the music circuit took notice of this release, and it made me realise that I was on the right path. It also helped that I was the face of Spotify’s ‘Fresh Finds’ playlist for a week along with other editorial playlists on the platform such as ‘.ORG’, which features the best songs of the month across Asia," says Peekay.

"Radio channels Big FM and Red FM interviewed me, as did several publications. YouTube put me on the cover of one of their official lists ‘New Indian Indie’. All of this has really helped,” she shares.

The response has spurred Peekay to work with renewed energy for her upcoming releases, of which two songs are slated for release this year and an album is planned for 2022. News of her future work is available on her Instagram page @peekayindia as well as on her official pages on Spotify and YouTube.

For now, the young musician is basking in the success of her latest song, which led to her being invited to perform at Delhi and Gurugram’s popular live music joint  – The Piano Man.

The live gig

Peekay and Jonathan performed at The Piano Man in the first weekend of September in Delhi and Gurugram. They collaborated with musicians of The Revisit Project - Kanu Gangahar on the guitar, Aditya Bhagavatula on drums, and Divij Kapoor, a bassist, from Delhi.

The Piano Man Jazz Club is known for its Sunday sessions, where musicians from around the country are invited to jam with each other. Curated by Arjun Das Gupta, also the founder of the club, these sessions often go on for up to five hours.

“Both the TPM venues have an unmatched charm about them, and Arjun ensures that every musician has a blast at their shows. The audience showed a great response, especially to my originals,” shares Peekay with delight.

Rani Kaur, Peekay’s Manager, arranged the gigs by contacting Arjun. She was also responsible for bringing the other bands on board for the show, which was a real highlight for Peekay, who believes that musicians travelling to different cities should get maximum mileage from this experience, by becoming familiar with the local people and their culture. “Such collaborations help in building communities and are a learning experience for everyone,” she says.

Though the audience consisted of fewer people due to Covid restrictions, all that really mattered to Peekay and her fellow performers was their level of engagement as they were performing live after a long gap.

The artists performing at The Piano Man Jazz Club

Collaborators

Kanu of The Revisit Project was particularly excited about the live gig. He shares,

“Playing with Peekay and Jonathan was great. Their music is super fun to play live and I hope to hear more of it. Playing gigs as things are opening up through the pandemic feels great but it also makes us slightly nervous!”

His bandmate Aditya highlights that it is always nice to play and interact with musicians from different parts of the country and the world, as one gets to know what is happening on the music scene everywhere else.

Jonathan appreciates the entire experience. He says, “The vibe at The Piano Man is quite different from other venues I’ve performed at. The stage, sound, and lights are excellent. In India, not many people are open to listening to new artists perform their original music, but thankfully The Piano Man spotlights the artist or band that is performing through its feature ‘The Silent Song’, where everyone is asked to remain silent and no orders are placed or movement takes place for the duration of one song. This creates an atmosphere of complete attention on the artists for those few minutes.”

He further adds, “It was quite thrilling to be on stage after almost a year and half and of course, an absolute honour to jam with some of Delhi’s finest artists. This is an experience that more venues in the country should think of replicating. It teaches you so much as a musician, and keeps the crowd entertained too. There is a spirit of learning along with a smidge of healthy competition – where artists push each other to get better and have fun doing it.”

For the shows held at The Piano Man, Peekay collaborated with Nikhil Mehra of designer duo Shantanu & Nikhil, whom she calls a dear friend. “He has a new line under their couture brand, which is comfortable, chic, and badass! I loved the clothes,” she says with glee.

Nikhil was at the live gig supporting Peekay, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

He says, “To hear Peekay in action in an intimate crowd at The Piano Man just hit the spot. Music has always been an important part of our journey as a brand, and I’m very pleased that our endeavour of entering the music scene started with Peekay getting dressed in our outfits. There’s lots to look forward to in the coming months!”

Peekay is now planning a live musical tour across India, if a third wave of COVID-19 doesn’t play spoilsport.


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Edited by Anju Narayanan