WPGM Commentary: NIMBU Is Trusting Her Artistic Process On ‘Eleventh Hour’

Hi, my name is NIMBU, and I am an Indian-American producer, singer-songwriter, rapper, DJ, and visual artist. I released my debut track, “Eleventh Hour,” with its accompanying music video on Friday, January 20th.

“Eleventh Hour” is a Bollywood-inspired nu-disco ode to the comeback kids – an uplifting reminder to celebrate the twists and turns that make each of our journeys unique. As someone who struggles with ADD, writing this track was a therapeutic process of accepting my own timeline. It’s a message to myself to trust my artistic process, even if it doesn’t look like that of my peers.

The challenges of this past year led me down a path of self-discovery that forced me to re-evaluate my process of making music and reflect on what I was holding back in my previous work. I realized that I wanted to honor my Indian heritage more wholeheartedly through my work, which I had suppressed in my efforts to assimilate into what I perceived to be “American culture.”

My parents always had an appreciation for classic Bollywood songs — often humming along to “Old is Gold” cassette tapes and drumming out Tabla patterns on the car dashboard. However, as a misfit Indian kid growing up in a predominately white suburb, my music exploration took me in a different direction – drawing me into jazz, alternative hip-hop, RnB, soul, and indie-electronic genres.

When I started to DJ, I became really invested in house and disco, and specifically focused on playing global disco gems (often Latin disco and Habibi funk into my sets).

However, after hearing the 40-year-old sleeper hit, “Aaj Shanibar” by Rupa, I started getting curious about the disco influences in Indian music coming out of the 70s and 80s. This brought me full circle back to the nostalgic Bollywood classics that had previously served as the background soundtrack to my adolescence.

This inspired me to start incorporating Bollywood-inspired sonics into my productions. I started experimenting with tablas, sitars, violins, and unique harmonies in my work. I spent most of 2022 in my studio listening to iconic artists like Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, and Asha Puthli.

Eventually, my sonic exploration led me to pack up my life as an artist/DJ in New York and move to Bengaluru, IN, where I began to formalize my new late-20th century Bollywood-inspired project, NIMBU, which traverses a variety of genres from neo-soul and hip-hop to disco-house.

“Eleventh Hour” is the title track off my debut album, which will be progressively released over the next few months. The album speaks to how I have finally come to embrace my Indian identity after wasting my youth trying to minimize it. In this sense, the track not only offers a story about grit but also offers a story about acceptance — a message of how we must embrace where we came from to chart where we are going.

Set on top of UK-garage-inspired percussion, I weave together nostalgic soul trumpets with rich Bollywood sitars and violins to create a fusion of my diverse musical influences. The track also features my layered interpolation of the 1986 Bollywood classic, “Zindagi Ki Yahi Reet Hai,” reflecting in Hindi how “victory only comes after defeat.”

“Eleventh Hour” is visually brought to life by rising star Indian filmmakers, Anurag Baruah, Bhavya Pansari, and Aatish Sarkar (Roznama Films, The Form Co.). I met the Roznama Films team in September and felt that we immediately clicked in terms of our vision for the music video.

The video follows the journey of my character running through the streets of Bengaluru to reach a party just before the stroke of midnight – reclaiming the narrative around showing up at the last minute. The music video artfully weaves a mix of old-school Bollywood references into the setting of modern-day Indian nightlife.

Inspired by a gritty, horror aesthetic, we curated “Eleventh Hour” to be a visually exciting portrait of Indian urban culture, encapsulated in an off-beat narrative about perseverance. We hope to offer the viewer a refreshing take on the timeless proverb, “it’s better late than never.”

Watch the video for “Eleventh Hour” below and stream it everywhere else here.

Words by NIMBU // Follow her on Instagram + TikTok

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