When listening to Weston Estate, it’s impossible to ignore their energy. Amidst a backdrop of lo-fi, beat-driven production, the group moves vibrantly through powerful verses and intricate harmonies, letting their chemistry—and talent—shine through. Made up of five best friends, most of whom have known each other since high school, Srikar Nanduri (guitar), Manas Panchavati (vocals), Tanmay Joshi (vocals), Abhi Manhass (production, bass), and Marco Luka (vocals) have been making music together since 2017.
In 10th grade, Abhi (who was already making beats) invited Tanmay and Srikar over to make a song while his family was in India to visit his grandma. Marco was originally recruited as a photographer, but once Srikar heard him send a voice note singing Khalid’s “Hopeless,” they brought him on as a vocalist, with Manas as the final vocalist to complete their quintet.
As self-professed “music lovers” who would get together just to hang out and talk about music, the transition to actually becoming musicians felt very natural. “We had high hopes and high dreams. That’s really it,” Abhi explains to Audiomack World. And their sound—an eclectic mix of genres and moods that showcases the band’s natural talent—echoes their inspirations, which include everything from Daniel Caesar and Young Thug to Bollywood and traditional Hindi music.
In many ways, the group’s dynamic, almost genre-less sound is simply a reflection of the collaborative way they work. Over the last five years, Weston Estate has learned how to bring together its five members’ disparate personalities and styles to create one unified sound as they explore common themes of growing up and entering the real world. “At the end of the day, [our thoughts] are still cohesive, because all five of us are going through all of these changes together. So regardless of how we feel differently, there’s always a certain level of cohesiveness to the songs that we’re writing,” Srikar shares.
Maggie Valley, the group’s highly-anticipated debut EP, is a window into these changes—as well as a catalyst for change itself. Following the project’s release this February, the EP is a massive inflection point in the Weston Estate’s career—opening the door to a US tour this spring. Even though four of the members are still in school, they’re ready for the challenge.
Read our interview with Srikar, Abhi, and Marcos below.
What’s your creative process? Is it difficult with so many different voices in the room?
Srikar: So what usually happens is me and Abhi will make a beat. We’ll show the vocalists, they’ll come up with some melodies if they like it, and then we’ll start structuring the song. We usually try to do that in one sitting because that’s when the energy is the best. If we have different ideas, we’ll workshop them until we get to something we all agree on.
Abhi: We play by ear and then do a lot of post-production.
S: But honestly, most of the work comes after that one day. We sit on the song and let it marinate in our brains for us to come to a consensus on whether or not we actually like it. Sometimes we’ll even be like, “Oh, I’m not really feeling this song anymore. What can we do to make it better or should we just scrap it entirely?”
Marco: It’s good and bad, all for the same reasons. Because if we’re not feeling an idea, all together, it’ll get gridlocked—that’s why we have a bunch of unfinished stuff. But on the other hand, because we have five people working on a song together, there are so many [different voices] that when we do feel like we have something collectively, it’s really fire.
What are some songs that took a long time to release?
S: “Daisies,” the last song of our new EP, we sat on that song for literally two years. We started working on it right when Covid started, and it didn’t come out until the end of February ‘22.
A: The same thing kind of happened with “Sixty.” It took us a year to finish.
M: To be completely blunt, most of the time, we have no idea what we’re doing. And if someone tells you that they know what they’re doing, they’re lying to you—or they genuinely have this shit figured out, which to me is a complete unknown. I think that it’s just part of the process.
A: We know that time is the only true test of whether something is good. You can really feel something in the studio one day, and then the next day, it’ll be complete ass. So, we do that with all our songs.
For the four of you still in school, how is balancing being a student with being a touring artist?
S: It’s a lot, especially next month is going to be hell, because we’re doing a lot of shows. Right after I get back, I have a final to take. It’s definitely stressful. The last couple weeks of February, we were doing shows in LA, Chicago, and Dallas. Every single one of those nights, I had to do schoolwork in my off-hours. Like right before the doors would open at the venue, I’d just be cranking out fucking game theory homework.
A: But it’s worth it.
S: I mean, this is an experience you can’t pass up. I know for a fact if I didn’t push Weston Estate as far as I could, I would regret it for the rest of my life. This is an experience most kids our age don’t get to have, so we're trying not to take it for granted. Being in school is obviously a challenge but we’re welcoming that challenge. We’re taking it in stride.
Let’s talk a bit about Maggie Valley. What does the project mean to you?
A: It’s a work of letting go.
S: That is one of the main themes throughout the whole EP. We started making it in December of 2020. Covid was at its peak. We were all exhausted from being at home and feeling creatively limited. Since we weren’t in the same place, we decided to take this trip over winter break to this place called Maggie Valley, which is in the mountains in North Carolina. We rented a cabin for a week and just made music together. That was the most creatively fueled we’d felt in a really long time.
Maggie Valley became a place of solace for us, where we could be creative and make music, just the five of us type shit. That’s why we called the EP Maggie Valley, because we went back and forth from there so many times, and, in one way or another, we worked on all the songs that are on the EP while we were there. Finally putting these songs out and letting them go after all these years was cathartic.
A: Now we’re on to a newer sound which I am very excited for. For the last two years, it felt like we were in sort of half-indie, half-urban land, and now my hope is to, like, not do that. [Laugh] Symbolically, we all pretty much turned 20 as soon as we finished most of the songs on the EP, and that signified letting go of our adolescence, letting go of the childish nature of our music. Now we’re moving towards a more mature sound.
Historically, it’s rare to see a diverse boy band reach this level of success in the US. Did you face challenges when getting started in North Carolina?
S: Everyone has been super supportive overall. Even our parents—as much as they’re like, “When are you going to have a real career?” in the back of their heads, they’re still excited about what we’re doing. Everyone back in North Carolina who’s been around us while we’ve been going through this journey of making music for the past four-to-five years has been really supportive. And it’s only pushed us to want to do more.
M: Which is a huge blessing, 100 percent. I don’t know why, but where we grew up in North Carolina, it’s able to foster this really youthful, open-minded community towards life, and you see it manifested a lot in the arts. Even before I was in music, for example, I had a web of people supporting me as a photographer and graphic designer.
A: The creative community in North Carolina in the area we’re from is crazy. We’ve made so many friends just through making music. There are a bunch of photographers, videographers, musicians—it’s a very tight-knit community. We were very fortunate to have our creativity fostered in this particular environment.
Being that four of your members are Indian American, have your cultural backgrounds played a role in the work that you make?
A: In making melodies for sure, because a lot of us didn’t grow up listening to Western music.
S: When I was really young, the only music I ever listened to was Hindi music or Telugu music, which is my mother tongue, what my family speaks. I grew up on Indian music before I even got introduced to Western music like hip-hop or R&B, things like that. What sounds good to me now is built on a lot of what I used to listen to when I was a kid, which is a lot of Indian music in general.
A: To get into the boring music theory stuff, what you’re raised on and what your ear hears while you’re growing up subconsciously affects melody choice and chord choice. In India, they have the chromatic scale, which isn’t like the major/minor scales of the West. So, without even really thinking about it, you’re able to come up with different types of melodies that people aren’t used to hearing. That’s what makes ear candy ear candy—it’s just nuance to the regular shit that you normally hear.
What are you guys excited about coming up next?
M: I’m mainly excited to work on more music, because like we can sit here and say the music will be a surprise, but we don’t—
A: It’ll be a surprise for us, too. Because we don’t even know what we’re putting out next time.
M: We may have an idea, but then we’ll make another song in a few weeks, and we’ll be like, “Holy shit, this is way better.” And then we change our whole direction. It keeps it fresh, but also we have no idea what the fuck we’re doing.
S: There are a couple songs we have in the vault right now I’m excited about. I don’t know when they’re gonna come out.
A: Will they come out?
S: I don’t even know if they will come out. But we’re just excited for whatever the hell the future holds for us.
By Eda Yu for Audiomack