Meet Bloodywood, the New Delhi Band Bringing Indian Folk Metal to the Masses

When considering international metal scenes, India might not be a country on everyone’s radar — but Bloodywood are going to change that. The New Delhi six-piece bring together a beautiful whirlwind of inlfuences — groove metal guitars, guttural and rapped vocals, and traditional Indian folk instruments like flute, dhol, and tumbi — to create controlled sonic chaos with a powerful buoyancy. But while Bloodywood started as a parody act posting metal covers to YouTube, and are excited to bring Indian metal to widespread audiences, their upcoming new album Rakshak is a beast all its own, proving that the band are here to shred.

We caught up with Bloodywood to learn a little bit about their history, the Indian metal scene, and what the world can expect from Rakshak

Tell me about how Bloodywood formed. Where’d you guys meet? What are your musical influences?

Bloodywood was formed in 2016. Karan Katiyar (guitars, flute and production) met Jayant Bhadula (vocals) at a show and they spoke about working together. Our plan was to build a following by making metal covers of pop songs and then transition into original music. After achieving that and finding the sweet spot of Punjabi-infused metal through covers of “Mundian to Bach ke Rahi” and “Tunak Tunak”, Karan met Raoul Kerr (Rap vocals) when shooting a music video for him, and invited him to collaborate with us. Our first song together was an explosive remix of “Ari Ari” that went viral across the world in the summer of 2018, and they haven’t looked back since. The musical influences we have in common are are Linkin Park, Rage against the Machine, System of a Down, Alterbridge and Limp Bizkit.

What was it like growing up in the rock/metal scene in India? Are the scenes very different depending on region or city?

The scene in India is very small, maybe 10,000 people in a country of over a billion, but it’s a great one. Everybody knows each other and even though a lot of gigs have small audiences, there are special nights when over 200 of us will come out and create a special night for metal in India. We hope to play a part in growing the scene in the future and showcasing the talent over here for the rest of the world to see.

What is it about traditional Indian music that you think makes it work so well with metal? We’re sure plenty of young metal bands in India would want nothing to do with Indian folk music, or might see it as old-fashioned…

It’s probably the flair, passion and power of the Punjabi folk genre and the dhol drum itself. Those elements create a meeting point between metal and Indian folk music. Folk music may be old-fashioned but it’s stood the test of time because it represents something in us that’s timeless. Its fusion with metal and the way it’s been received around the world shows us that it represents more than just Indian people, it says something about the human spirit that we all share.

Tell us about your new single “Gadaar.” What were you trying to express with that song?

It’s been a while since our last video, so we wanted to come back heavy with “Gaddaar!” It’s a song that’s aimed at a complete separation of religion and politics across the world. Everyone deserves equal rights and equal treatment at the hands of their governments no matter who and how they worship. We’ve seen the use of religious and divisive politics globally in recent years and it needs to be spoken about.

“Gaddaar” has a disclaimer at the beginning of it — what inspired you to put that there?

The disclaimer was just a fun way of pointing out that “political neutrality” is a political stance in itself, especially in the face of political injustices. It’s also a privilege to be in a position where you can remain neutral, because your privilege protects you from the injustices faced by most people in your country or around the world. We slam that point home before the break down when the text comes full circle to say that neutrality is not an option, battle lines have been drawn.

Plenty of metal bands from non-English-speaking countries sing only in English — what inspired you to add Hindi vocals?

The decision to be bilingual, vocally speaking, was a natural one that we didn’t really think about. It just felt like the way to go, and it definitely adds a different dimension to our sound. We’re happy to share that people feel the emotion and understand the sentiment even if they don’t speak the language (though we did get requests for translations and subtitles, which you’ll find in all our songs now). The moment we knew that beyond a doubt was when we played a sold out show in Paris and had an amazing audience of French people sing the chorus back at us in perfect Hindi. They were so loud and clear that we couldn’t hear Jayant!

Bloodywood’s Rakshak drops February 18th, and is available for preorder.

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Words by Chris Krovatin