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Music Chalo: an interview with underground synth artist Kohinoorgasm

Jan. 26, 2019
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The Chalo EP, released by synth siren and underground artist Kohinoorgasm (a.k.a. Josephine Shetty), opens new channels of dialogue and offers a visceral response of warmth, light, and metamorphosis. Like her debut album Titalee and previous release Synthwali and the War Empire, Chalo is a self-released and self-produced album which maintains Josephine’s style of combining hypnotic melodies with ethereal synth beats, while also showcasing her creative growth and commitment to DIY culture. The EP consists of 4 tracks: “Chalo,” “Another Day,” “Waiting for You,” and “Drained.” Each serves as a reminder that even if our society can feel defeated and the traumas we experience can be overbearing, we must continue to carve space for joy, healing, care, community, and resistance. 

The EP reflects not only Josephine’s incredible energy, but the resilience of people who confront disempowerment daily. Her continual use of both Hindi and English lyrics has gifted me with words to facilitate my own intergenerational healing. “Drained” in particular highlights the importance of valuing one’s time: “You want to take when I’m already drained / Want to waste my heart away / I don’t even have time for this.” I remember tearing up when I heard these lyrics for the first time and reminding myself of my own worth and value. Essentially, Josephine's voice make healing accessible and tangible. Chalo can be streamed or purchased January 25th on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal.

Read below for more insight on Kohinoorgasm.

Adolescent Content: Can you give some background on yourself and your music?

Josephine Shetty: I started writing and performing as Kohinoorgasm in 2015 with no equipment besides my very old laptop, and no formal musical skills besides some church choir experience and [a] deep affinity for pop and electronic music. I only gained the confidence to write and share my musical visions after witnessing incredible solidarity amongst underground artists in the Bay Area. [Seeing] so many musicians, DJs, visual artists, [and] dancers confidently creating work outside of the creative hegemony gave me hope for my own special space in art, and I quickly taught myself how to produce and record music at home. I spent a lot of time in college trying to write my first few songs and watching YouTube to learn how to produce and record music on Garageband. My first album is largely a representation of that initial experimentation. 

Adolescent: What was your process for creating each of the songs on Chalo, and what’s the meaning behind them?

Josephine: A lot of the songs on the EP were born out of exhaustion and the harsh, continual reminder that every manifestation of oppression comes in some form of abuse, and that abuse is inherently oppressive. The title track, “Chalo,” addresses misogyny as a trigger for social anxiety, and the song demands that night spaces take a stance against misogyny. “Another Day” shames cultures of political passivity and calls out gaslighters who deny the oppressive nature of our society. “Waiting for You” is a message from a higher self to an former self, assuring the former self of the higher self’s care and guidance. “Drained” mourns the energy I have lost to people who haven’t respected my boundaries.

Adolescent: What do you want people to take away from your music?

Josephine: I hope my music can facilitate some kind of catharsis and community for anyone who resonates with it! I am grateful to every single person who listens to me, and I hope that my music can exemplify my faith in and care for my community.

Music by Kohinoorgasm
Interviewed by 
Samar Saif
Photographed by Andrea Granera
Photo Edits by Jasdeep Kang