Abhi Kanakadandila’s grandfather was the first person in his family to move to the US, and there, his first apartment unit number was D36. “That’s the first place I have any memories of at all, it’s the starting point of finding an identity. Everyone has their version of that story, so we wanted the name to capture the beginning of that process,” says the CEO & co-founder of D36, who realised the need for more cultural infrastructure and recognition of the talent that exist across the globe.
D36 is a Los Angeles-based company formed in 2021 that provides a platform to aspiring musicians from South Asia. Abhi thinks there is a lot of excitement around creating distinct South Asian lanes under the umbrella of global music. “That doesn’t mean we cannot be competitive in the genres that are most relevant today. That’s what drives our projects. The emergence of South Asia’s indie scene is so important for the next generation of artistes,” he adds.
Birth of the label
During the peak of the pandemic, over several phone and video calls, Abhi interacted with his co-founder Abdullah and the team, discussing ‘culture and the industry’. “Then it was setting the early vision for the company and how we wanted to approach the music. Eventually, we dove in.” The D36 members, according to Abhi, spent their entire lives surrounded by music in different capacities — A&R (Artistes and Repertoire representatives), creative, distribution and management. “The early team bought into the vision and felt a personal connection to what we wanted to build. I think it was exciting for all of us to apply what we’ve learned in our respective careers towards the D36 mission.”
After signing up artistes under their label, D36 made their first India tour early this year with artistes Rahul, Cable and Boon. Apart from launching the artistes’ singing careers, exposure to a live audience is ensured. The main focus for D36 over the next few months is the bulk of music slated to drop from the current roster and a few new signings. “Long-term, we want to continue building on the ground in South Asia and find ways to put more resources into the hands of artistes worldwide. We want to find other creative ways to platform creativity outside music through branded events and content. And we want to keep building our live presence across the US and India to expand the number of stories we’re able to amplify,” says Abhi.
Rise of Rahul
One of the first few artistes D36 signed up was Rahul, a multi-disciplinary artiste from Tampa, Florida. Specialised in filmmaking, music production and visual arts, his debut single ‘Anecdote’ in 2021 and an EP Depressed but make it cool in 2022 did well.
About his India tour, he says, “It was humbling to meet so many fans of some songs I made in my bedroom, on the other side of the world.” About being part of D36, Rahul says, “They took a chance on me before I’d even finished my first full song. I’m grateful for the opportunity they’ve provided and am excited to see where we’ll take this.”