Harker alumni finds success in the music industry

September 10, 2018 — by Alex Wang and Callia Yuan

“I see the moon in your eyes / All of a sudden you go out of sight.” The voices of Saratoga-based R&B duo THEMXXNLIGHT (pronounced “the moonlight”) floated over a Bollywood-inspired beat in “All of a Sudden” on Wiz Khalifa’s album “Rolling Papers 2.” 

THEMXXNLIGHT consists of identical twins Akash and Krish Chandani, both 22 and alumni of The Harker School and Cupertino High School.

Their career began in a college dorm at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) with a $150 microphone and the 2004 version of GarageBand. They started under the name “LUVKUSH” as a reference to the mythological twins in Hindu stories, but switched to “THEMXXNLIGHT” in February, as their last name “Chandani” means moonlight in Hindi. 

The twins had played Division 3 basketball for RPI, turning down a college basketball offer from MIT. Akash explained that they quit the basketball team because they would not be able to take the sport past college, and realized that staying on the team would simply be a form of exercise for them, so they instead suddenly decided to pursue music.

“The same day that we quit the basketball team, we recorded our first cover ever and posted it online,” Krish said in an interview with Genius. “It was pretty bad. Our entire set-up, even now, is probably not even worth $500. It’s just crazy how our passion switched [over] one day and we haven’t looked back since. Every breath since then has been either music or engineering.”

Before they began doing music, the twins attended Harker from their freshman year until mid-junior year, when they switched to Cupertino. They graduated college this May from RPI with degrees in Industrial Systems Engineering. 

“We always wanted to obtain a professional degree, but music was always what we wanted to do with our lives,” Akash told The Falcon in social media interview. “It’s an extremely tough industry so we didn’t want to put all our eggs in one basket. Our parents did influence our decision to pursue engineering, but we are glad they did.”

Their music attracted much attention and more notably, Wiz Khalifa’s producer Sledgren, who reached out to the twins after discovering their music on SoundCloud. Khalifa was so impressed by the twins’ sound that he decided to include THEMXXNLIGHT in three of the 25 songs on “Rolling Papers 2,” Khalifa’s most recent album. Their songs now have more than 5 million plays on Spotify.

Now that they have found their niche in the music industry, the twins have put off engineering at the moment and have shifted toward a career in music.

But, for all of their success, they have had little formal training. Akash said that while they grew up playing many instruments, they mostly played by ear and to this day can barely read sheet music.

They credit their love for Indian music, an influence that can be heard throughout their songs, to their mom and dad, who are from Bangalore and Mumbai respectively.

“It feels great that people are now accepting our sound and style into the music industry,” Akash said. “Especially as the only artists that really emphasize our South Asian culture within our sound and look, we hope we can obtain fans all throughout America and India. We love dressing up in our Indian wear and plan to depict that in future music videos.”

At the moment, the twins have a couple of Hindi R&B songs that they “have big plans for.”

When creating their music, they write all their lyrics on the spot; “we go for that moody vibe,” Akash said.

Although one may think that working with a sibling would cause disputes, Akash said that the two love working together.

“Over the past couple years, we have figured out who’s better at certain things, so we just go back and forth with melodies and see who comes up with something that clicks,” Akash said. “Then, we figure out whose voice fits with that specific part of the beat.”

Akash advised any aspiring musicians to stay motivated and to have good time management skills.

He said that “if someone has a passion they should definitely pursue it, while doing their best to maintain their academic careers as well.”

The duo currently have an EP and an album ready. Their EP, which “is just a small taste” of what they have in store for the future, is scheduled to drop in a month, and they’re working out label deals to put the album through as well.

“Music was something we loved doing, so we just kept at it on the side of our engineering degree,” Akash said. “It was super difficult, but the hard work is paying off now!”

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