Mikey McCleary introduces all-girl Indian-pop band, W.I.S.H, with the release of their debut music video today

Almost two decades after India’s last super-hit all girl pop band, W.I.S.H., debuts today, bringing back an era that we’re hoping will stay…
From L-R: Ri, Sim, Zo and Suchi
From L-R: Ri, Sim, Zo and Suchi

India’s pop music scene has metamorphosed from its nascent stages to a vibrant, eclectic fusion of sounds and styles. Initially influenced by Bollywood, it has now blossomed into a diverse landscape with artists blending traditional Indian melodies with contemporary beats and global trends. The evolution is palpable, with the advent of independent artistes and digital platforms democratising the industry, genres like Indie and Punjabi pop have flourished showcasing India’s cultural diversity.

The influence of K-pop on Indian music is undeniable, especially among teenagers. The catchy tunes, synchronised choreography and unique fashion sense of pop bands has led to the emergence of India’s first K-pop idol Shreya Lenka from Odisha who made headlines when she opted to be a member of the girl group Blackswan. But for songwriter and composer Mikey McCleary, who has been in the industry for ages now, there was a blank space in the country’s pop music scene — an all-girl pop band.

“I was quite perplexed that there hadn’t been any pop girl bands in India for over 20 years. India, with its rich tapestry of music, dance and glamour, embodies everything that is encompassed in an act like this. All these elements combined, I felt strongly that this was something that needed to happen,” Mikey begins. And so, the musician hailing from New Zealand and now based in Mumbai started hunting for fresh talent who could make his band.

“For the last two, three years, this has been my vision. I didn’t realise the extent of what was involved — the time it took to find the perfect combination of talent, creativity and unique personalities because the chemistry between them had to be exceptional. Additionally, finding artistes who are committed and have the right mentality for this journey is a big task. It’s been a long journey here,” Mikey tells us.

Called W.I.S.H., this band boasts Ri (Riya Duggal leads the pack with her glamorous style and ambitious attitude); Sim (Simran Duggal is a sassy and unpredictable high-tone soprano who also happens to be a foodie, a shop-a-holic and trained in jazz music); Zo (Zoe Siddharth is known for her husky vocals and brings a love for K-pop, the ocean, adventure sports and love for gaming) and Suchi (Suchita Shirke is a gender-creative member adding a unique flair with her high energy and dance prowess) — together, they form a dynamic group that’s as diverse as their music.

Excited to know more about what these girls have in store for music enthusiasts, we get chatty with the band members and the founder, who spill the tea on how they all came together, their upcoming music video and the grand launch.

How has your journey been, so far?

Ri: It’s been an incredible collaborative process. We’ve been deeply involved in writing, choreographing and styling and I’m thrilled that we’ve found the perfect synergy between Suchi, Sim, Zo and myself. Now that everything is finally coming to life as we approach our launch, we’re incredibly excited and can’t wait to show everyone what we’ve been diligently working on for over a year and a half.

What’s the story behind the name W.I.S.H.?

Ri: Mikey was the master mind behind it. W.I.S.H. stands for World Inka Stage Hai, which truly resonates with us because we see ourselves as an act with a global appeal. We’re eager to showcase India on the international stage. Why confine ourselves? Let the world be our very own canvas.

Mikey: When we talk about being international, it doesn’t mean we aim to simply replicate international entertainment or music. Much of our essence is deeply rooted in India, which has universal appeal. It’s about blending our Indian identity with global influences, creating a sound that is both authentic and current. Our goal is for Hindi music to resonate worldwide. Just as we enjoy bilingual songs from around the globe, we want our music to transcend language barriers because music is a universal language that unites us all.

Tell us a bit about your debut music video, it must have been a great experience?

Suchi: We have an exciting lineup of songs in the works, but our debut release is set for March 1. This first single, titled Lazzeezz, accompanied by a music video backed by Sony Music, celebrates the joy of delicious foods and sweets. However, the song goes beyond that to convey how we, as a group, are delightful and flavourful, echoing the essence of the song. This sentiment is vividly portrayed in the music video through our dancing, expressions, sassiness and overall attitude, all of which embody the ‘Lazzeezz’ within us.

Ri: The muse for Lazzeezz came from the idea ‘mai aisi cheez hu’ which translated into a concept that I am a snack but as a group, we are a whole meal. The song is a fearless declaration of self-love and empowerment. With its vibrant mix of pulsating rhythms and defiant lyrics, it begins with the words, “careful what you wish for!”

Sim: We had the most incredible time shooting the music video. Set against the backdrop of heritage walls in Kolkata, this trip marked our first travel as a group, allowing us to stay together and share in a memorable first sleepover experience besides the joy of having shot a ‘food-filled’ song.

From L-R: Ri, Sim, Zo and Suchi
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Give us a glimpse into your upcoming album and the other music videos that will follow Lazzeez ?

Mikey: We currently have two completed music videos out of the five we’re producing. The title of the second video will be revealed closer to its release, which is approximately one month away. These songs are part of the band’s debut eight-track album, the name of which too, shall be revealed soon.

The entire album should be out in the next six months. When and where can we catch you girls live on stage?

Mikey: We’re eagerly anticipating a launch gig in Mumbai, where one can spot eminent faces from the music industry and some celebrities. We are also inviting those who will help spread the word. But live performances will commence only after the release of three or four music videos and the album goes live. Our goal is for W.I.S.H. to tour colleges and festivals across the country. Once students return to campus, around the middle of the year, expect to see a flurry of live performances on stage.

Finally, what are some other projects you have in the pipeline?

Mikey: I recently collaborated with Lucky Ali for his latest album Subah Ke Taare, a collection of eight soul-stirring songs that reflect his continuous quest for meaning and fulfillment boasting tracks like Dil Gaye Ja, Rehne De and Duniya Ke Samandar. Additionally, am also working on a musical film featuring old songs, all recreated by me, also known as The Bartender.

Lazzeezz releases today on YouTube.

Mail: srushti @newindian express.com

X: @Sru_Kulkarni

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