Weston Estate is a group of hometown best friends who burst into the indie music scene, finding vast success with their tracks like “Cotton Candy” and “Fresh Air.” The quintet was formed by Abhi Manhass (production, bass), Srikar Nanduri (guitar), Tanmay Joshi (vocals) Marco Luka (vocals) and Manas Panchavati (vocals). They discussed their origins and how they’ve come together as a group, especially during the pandemic.
“Before COVID, we were all at different colleges, so we were doing most of our work remotely anyway. It wasn’t really an obstacle at the time, but as we grew into better artists, we quickly realized that being in the same room together gives us an energy that is quite possibly unmatched,” they said. “We took a trip to the mountains in December and finished four songs that we are all really proud of. Being in that space together made us realize how important it was to create together in person. Since then, we’ve basically given up on working remotely.”
The group chose their name as a teasing joke about a neighboring town to their community – Weston Estates is a community in Morrisville, N.C., just west of the state’s capital. The members shared how their upbringing influenced them.
“We’re born and bred in the Raleigh/Durham area and we all became friends between middle school and high school,” they said. “Growing up here and exploring the city together is what made us such close friends. Even though it’s not big, our hometown has always been a place where creativity is constantly being fostered. Before the pandemic, the area was always buzzing with pop-up galleries and local concerts every week. Just by living here, most of the friends that we’ve made are artists of some kind and we are all constantly inspiring each other.”
Weston Estate’s latest song is “Hold On.”
“Hold On” opens with strumming guitar and symbols being moved to make an aeolian sound, like a quiet storm is brewing. “I would’ve gave you the world,” the lyrics begin. Background vocals, rising guitar, and a gentle but slamming percussion creates a dramatic shift soon after the exposition. “I can’t help this feeling/But baby I’ve been trying hard/Hold on, hold on/Can’t slow down/We’re on the run/Hold on, hold on/Gave you everything.”
Weston Estate found success very rapidly and this song, which contrasts their brighter hits, reflects the feelings of trying to grasp onto the things you once knew and had. They shared that the changes in their lives were startling.
“To be honest, it was completely unexpected. Up until midway through our freshman year of college, having a career in music didn’t really seem possible to any of us. But when our music started taking off and labels started reaching out to us, we felt a mixture of anxiety, excitement and everything in between. None of us were really certain if we could handle the pressure of both school and making music. It’s definitely been hard to keep a balance between those two parts of our lives, but we’re trying to make the most of the opportunities we have.”
“Hold On” sounds like massive changes are all occurring, and someone is attempting to hold fast to what they once had. The group explained that this song is a big reveal of their influences and of their emotional turmoil.
“We made this song at a time when we were feeling anxious and uncertain about our futures, and all those sentiments definitely bled into the track. Also, we’ve always drawn a lot of influence from artists with darker production: this is just the first time we’re showing that side of us to the world.”
They continued, “We made the first demo of ‘Hold On’ over a year ago during a beach trip. At the time, it was a slow and soft ballad and we loved the song, but we weren’t sure what direction we really wanted to take it. We let the song sit for a while, but when we took our mountain trip this December, we felt like it was the right time to revisit it. At this point, we had been locked up in quarantine for the better part of the year, so this trip was a time for us to let everything out. We felt that raw, rock drums and distorted guitar would give us the best foundation to just completely let loose. I guess we had a lot of shit bottled up, because we went absolutely bonkers with it. All the anxiety and uncertainty we had about the future lives in that song now.”
When it comes to these influences, Weston Estate said they draw a lot of inspiration from their cultural upbringing, “What sets us apart is that we’re five people with countless influences to bring to the table to make something really unique. We were raised on a lot of classical and modern Indian music, so those influences definitely find their way into our music. To give an example, Manas had Carnatic vocal training as a kid, so he incorporated classical Indian harmonies into one of the songs that we made in the mountains. We look up to artists like Sid Sriram, who can seamlessly fuse Indian style music into their Western projects.” All members of the band are of Indian descent, “with the exception of Marco who is first generation Cuban-American.”
Having known each other through some of their most formative years means the group’s music has served as a means of exploration and documentation. “At first, we just started making music for fun. We were just regurgitating everything that we had been listening to. It was during the making of ‘Cotton Candy’ that we naturally started molding our musical influences into our own sound instead of letting our influences mold us. I still don’t think we’ve had a fully original thought, but it’s ok because all art is derivative in some way.”
“As for outgrowing it, it depends who you ask: some of our parents think that music is just a phase for us. I still think that we haven’t lived enough life to fully understand our place in the world of music, so outgrowing it isn’t really a concern just yet. For now, we just vibing. 🙂 All of us are 19, except for Srikar, who just turned 20. We look back at the music that we made in high school and we envy the innocence we had. When we create now, we’re more aware that we’re maturing: not just as musicians, but as people. We’ve got a lot more shit to worry about now, and we try to put all of those growing pains into our music. But I think in a couple of years, we’ll look back at songs like “Hold On” and envy whatever innocence we have right now.”
The music continues to include new layers of vocals and instrumentals as it continues, creating a sense of anxious chaos. There’s a lot of swirling emotions, and the fervent vocals reflect this. There are moments when the vocals pull back to showcase the instrumentals, and surges where it’s simply single voice over guitar. The different styles of creating emphasis demonstrate the shifts occurring in the singers’ lives during its production.
As the group matures listeners can hopefully look forward to more tracks with similar sounds and focuses. “Hold On” is a more raw and dark take from Weston Estate, offering a glimpse inside the lives of rising hit makers.
You can stream “Hold On” everywhere now!