THEMXXNLIGHT are here to take over the music industry, one hit record at a time. Comprised of twin brothers Akash and Krish Chandani, the Indian-American musical duo puts their all into the music, building a fanbase worldwide with their unique sound, look, and brand. Most notably known for their standout collaborations with Wiz Khalifa, even appearing 3 different times on his critically-acclaimed Rolling Papers 2 mixtape, THE MXXNLIGHT prove their talents as a recording artist in their own right.
With both creatives having played basketball and studied engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, it was during college when the Bay Area natives decided to release a few original songs of their own. Fast forward to today, they release their newest single titled “Naughty or Nice” featuring the Taylor Gang CEO himself, even performing the record in Las Vegas with Wiz by their side on stage.
Flaunt caught up with THEMXXNLIGHT via Zoom, who revealed they were in good spirits working on real estate, which takes up a bulk of their time. Read below as we discuss their roots in the Bay Area, biggest influences, the meaning behind their name, how they linked with Wiz Khalifa initially, new single “Naughty or Nice,” shooting the visual with Wiz, performing the record in Las Vegas, the independent grind, studio essentials, unreleased collabs, and being full-time real estate agents.
How have you guys been since the last time I saw you?
Akash: We've been going back and forth to LA whenever possible. I know there's not too much going on there. For whatever major events or if there's a packed weekend, we’d go and go to a bunch of things. It's been good, we’ve been creating a lot of music. We have a bunch of unreleased videos ready to go so we’re trying to keep dropping. We have content ready for the next year I would say.
What part of the Bay are you guys from?
Akash: We're from the South Bay, so Saratoga if you’re familiar. We're in the Bay right now, we balance our time between music and real estate. We have a start-up as well, so the Silicon Valley vibe. We're just trying to balance everything in life. [laughs]
When did you guys start creating music?
Akash: We always played musical instruments growing up around 6 or 7: saxophone, drums, violin, guitar, piano, a bunch. We never got trained vocally but we started listening to The Weeknd, Trey Songz, Chris Brown, all these artists from middle school onwards. We started singing the songs around school. After kids told us we were good at singing, they said “You guys need to start making music.” Age 17 or 18, end of high school beginning of college, we started getting into it.
Krish: We started getting into it, the idea of us creating music. Maybe freshman or sophomore year of college is when we started creating our first songs. 4 or 5 years ago, that's when people said “this is a really cool R&B sound, you guys should keep doing it.” That's how it started.
Who were your biggest influences?
Krish: The Weeknd, because people always give us comparisons to that. I don't think it's a negative thing, it's a positive thing where everyone has someone that they're motivated and inspired by. His sound led the direction for our vision 4 or 5 years ago when we first started listening to him. It was him combined with a lot of the OVO/XO artists like Majid Jordan, Roy Woods, a combination of all these people. We’re listening to Tory Lanez, Chris Brown, listening to all these artists really shaped our sound.
How did you guys get your name?
Akash: Our last name is Chandani, which directly translates from Hindi to English to the moonlight. It’s our last name pretty much. When we’re talking to our trademark lawyer, he was discussing with us how to be more unique.
Krish: Especially online, if you search Moonlight with o’s, the movie comes up. Other stuff comes up. For SEO purposes and to have the only name existing on the internet, we decided that the X’s are a sexy R&B vibe. Made it one word, all caps.
How did you guys tap in with Wiz Khalifa initially?
Akash: In early 2018 about a couple months before we graduated, Sledgren who’s Wiz's right-hand producer, reached out to us on Twitter. He said “you guys are the future of R&B, I really want to work with you guys.” We started exchanging emails. He sent us a bunch of beats, we sent him a bunch of hooks back. 3 or 4 months later after we sent him 10 hooks that we recorded in our dorm room in college, he said "Yo, Wiz wants to meet you guys."
Wiz called us to come out to New York City. Our college was in New York anyways, it was a 2-hour drive. We took a bus to the city, met Wiz over there. The first thing he said was, "Yo you guys have 3 songs on my album Rolling Papers II." We thought he was joking, that's the craziest thing ever. A few months later, it was reality. We sat down with our family in our living room when Rolling Papers 2 dropped, we listened to it together and our parents were crazy shocked. They didn't even know what we were doing. They said "So you guys do music? What were you guys doing? I thought you guys were going to college for engineering?"
Krish: We graduated with a degree in Engineering, literally a month after that the album with Wiz came out. Everything came from there.
Were you guys huge Wiz fans? Rolling Papers 2, that's iconic!
Krish: Definitely. I wouldn't lie and say we were the OG fans who knew every single song by him. Obviously the top 20 maybe 25 songs, even some low key ones we definitely heard before in middle school. We never even imagined ourselves working with him, it was a dream. When we started thinking that music was going to be serious for us, we had a list of 10 or 15 artists that we wanted to work with eventually. Dream collabs, and he was one of them. It's crazy how him and Sledgren became the godsend for us.
How did "Naughty or Nice" with Wiz come about?
Krish: We had that song ready to go, it was one of the first songs we did with Sledgren. Early 2018 when Sledgren was sending beats, it was one of those. We made it after a frat party one day, we went back to our room. We’re discussing a situation that happened when we created the song. We had our parts done. When Rolling Papers 2 dropped, all these labels like Capitol and Atlantic were calling us out to LA. We had meetings, they asked to play the music.
After we played "Naughty or Nice,” they said "That one, you gotta get a hit feature on that because that's the one with the most hit potential. Definitely try getting a global hit feature." We held on to it, kept it open for a verse. One day, we were in the studio with Wiz. This was after being in the studio with him 100 times so we got really comfortable with him. He said, "Yo twins, you guys got anything for me?" We said “actually yeah, we do have this one song.”
Damn, he asked it just like that?
Akash: Yeah. It was really funny because it was some girl playing some random music, I'm not sure who she was. She was playing a few songs, Wiz was chillin’ and nodding. Then he looks at us like “yo twins, you got some shit?” Yes we do. Sledgren was half asleep in the room, it was 5am. We played the song, he recorded it right there and then.
Krish: Pretty funny.
How does it feel to hit 2 million views on Youtube, one million in one week?
Krish: Thank you, appreciate it.
Akash: I think it stems from our growth in the American industry so far, but we've been doing a lot of global work as well. India, some Brazil, a lot of Bollywood stuff, that's really helped our fanbase. We’re really fortunate to have the support of a big artist like Wiz and others upcoming. The fact we’re Indian is unique because there's not a ton of Indian artists in American history, probably NAV and a couple others. Because of that whole Indian-American thing paired with the Wiz cosign and the feature with him, paired with our work with Bollywood, all of that accumulates to a large global fanbase. Right now it’s 50% Indian and 50% American, which is pretty cool. That plays a role in the numbers.
Where did you guys shoot the video? What was the best memory?
Krish: We shot it in LA. It was cool because Wiz knew the owner of the house. We found the house on Peerspace and no one was accommodating certain things. Wiz said "Nah I got you guys. We're good, I know this guy." So we showed up, Wiz showed up. It was super fun because that’s our first video with Wiz.
Akash: When Wiz showed up, we already had some scenes done. Wiz said "Where's the cups at? Where's the alcohol?" We said “oh shit, we didn’t even open the bottles yet.” I didn't know if we were gonna have the cups in our video, I didn't know if that was the vibe. Wiz said "Hell yeah! It's a party, let's go. Get the cups!" Everyone, all the girls, all the models and us started drinking in the video.
Krish: He brought some of that McQueen, his gin brand with him. That was really cool, that was the highlight. After we shot the bar scenes, he showed up and the whole vibe changed. Everyone was so pumped, it was sick. It didn't feel real, but it's good the video’s out now. Now everyone knows it was real. [laughs]
How did it feel to be in Vegas with him?
Akash: That story’s really crazy because it was raining that day. His set was going to get cut short. Instead of an hour, it was going to be half an hour. DJ Bonics, his DJ told us "yo, send me the track. I'll try to see if we can perform it, you might perform." This was a few hours before Wiz performed. When they said his set was gonna get cut short, he said, " aw shit, I don't think it's gonna happen." We said “okay, no big deal.” We were standing on stage. First of all, they’re being picky about who got to be on stage. It was 10 people on stage so we’re lucky to be up there. There was a few moments of silence in the crowd.
Krish: Halfway through his set, the crowd started chanting "MXXNLIGHT! MXXNLIGHT!" Wiz turns around and points at us like "Alright, you guys have to perform a song with me now!" It came about super cool, it was sick. He was really generous to give us the opportunity, step back and let us take the stage. It was a really cool feeling.
How do you guys feel about the music industry? How’s the independent journey?
Akash: Our education, background, upbringing, business mindset, our parents taught us a lot about money and they teach us everyday. That’s played a massive role in our career so far being independent. We have not felt the need to resort to a label yet. If we end up getting a major hit song by ourselves independently, at that point a label would be great to come step in and boost the song further. I’ve seen that happen a lot of times.
Krish: Our creative mindset and direction, we like that we handle it all ourselves. We've had certain people try to step in and help, but it hasn't been aligned with what our goals are. The best way forward is we keep going ourselves, keep marketing ourselves.
Akash: It's definitely a lot of hard work. We manage ourselves, 95%. We have Elton helping with PR, this guy I know helps connect the dots, but mostly 95% of the management is done ourselves. Many hours of time, thought, and stress go into it. It’s pretty stressful handling a lot of the politics that goes into the industry, being independent and not having a huge huge player backing us on the managing side.
On the other side, we do have full control. We are smart. We work smart, we work hard, so it's working for now. Someday, there will be a time where we’ll need someone to take over the management, but I don't know when that will be. We have Will Dzombak helping us a little bit.
I love Will!
Akash: Will’s the homie. When COVID hit, we moved back to the Bay and got into real estate. Living in LA right now is unrealistic, we travel back and forth. We’re fully independent and unmanaged, we manage ourselves right now. We're open to someone who shares the same vision, who's going to work hard for us. Other than that, we're fully independent.
3 things that you guys need in the studio at all times?
Krish: Some sort of alcohol, like Hennesey. I love when Hennessey is in the studio, we can take shots. The people, it needs to be a good vibe. That’s the most important part. If we're in the studio with Wiz, that's a necessity. Most of the time, it's just us 2 in the studio. We record ourselves, we engineer ourselves. We get the beat from Sledgren and download it. If we're in LA in the studio, it definitely depends on the people. It needs to be a nice vibe with cool people. Sledgren, Wiz, BatmanOnTheBeat, The Taylor Gang and any of our close producer homies. Even some engineers that we're close with. Any artist like Wiz obviously makes the vibe amazing.
People can tell the difference when we're in the studio with ourselves, versus when we're in the studio with someone like Wiz. It's a whole different environment. Wiz for sure pushes us to bring the best out of ourselves. He makes us work really fast, really quick. He'll say "alright, I'ma go get dinner. Finish your hooks by the time I come back and let’s see what we got." He'll tell his engineer "Pick these 3 beats, have MXXNLIGHT do hooks on these. I'll check it out when I get back." When he comes back, we'll be done and he'll say, "Oh shit, y'all did that shit!"
Akash: Usually when we're in the studio, he'll give us advice on the spot. When we recorded "G.O.A.T. Flow" and "All for You" on his album in 2019, that situation happened when we’re at his house. He said "Yo, I'ma be gone for half an hour. When I come back, I wanna hear some shit." We had both hooks done in half an hour and he was pretty impressed. It feels good to impress him, that's a goal of ours. [laughs]
You guys are full-time real estate agents, can you touch on that?
Akash: We do luxury and celebrity real estate. Our parents have been in real estate for 35 years so we grew up in the business. We naturally became realtors. [laughs] It was already our life path since day one. Since our parents have been in it, it's our family business so we naturally fell into the real estate world. It's really fun, but it's a lot of hard work. We spend 10 to 14 hours a day sometimes.
What’re you most excited for next?
Akash: We have a lot of collabs that not many people know about. If and when they release, it’d be the greatest thing ever. We have an unreleased album with Roy Woods, we have 8 songs with him. We met with him in LA for 2 or 3 weeks. We’re both the same exact age so it was pretty cool, we really bonded really well. We spent a lot of time together, those songs are such a cool different vibe. It's crazy because Roy is one of our inspirations coming from that OVO/XO, Toronto sound, we listened to him all of college. Having the opportunity to work with him was definitely a big thing for us.
Also Megan The Stallion, we have a major R&B hit song with her that’d be her only pure R&B vibe. She actually reached out to us for that song. In 2019, she posted a video on her IG of her dancing in the mirror to “Mr. Williams,” our song with Wiz. We got a bunch of DMs saying "Yo, Megan just tagged you!" Megan DMs us and goes "Oh shit, that's you guys on the hook?" She sent us a fully finished song with her verses done, with the hooks blank. She said "Do the hooks and do background vocals for the entire song." So we did that, she writes back to us like "Yo this is a major hit!" But label stuff, I don't know what happened with the release plan there. That's definitely a big goal of ours, to release that Megan song.
We have a song with Travis Scott, I think that's up to TM88 when to release. The song’s supposed to be on TM88's album, featuring us and Travis. The song’s us on the hook and verse, and Travis on the first verse. Whenever that comes out, that's a big thing for us. We have a bunch of Indian collabs too. I can't really say his name because I don't know if it's happening yet, but he's huge in India. He's a really famous actor and just started making music. If that comes through, that'll boost us.
Krish: He has 40 million core followers, it’s insane. He's a young guy, looks like us too. India would go crazy over that, also the world too because there's Indians everywhere and they all know who he is. That’ll be insane if that happens, hoping for that. Hoping for some more vocal collabs, but for sure the Megan, Travis, and Roy Woods stuff is on our minds all the time. Hopefully those drop soon.
Anything else you want to let us know?
Akash: Balancing music and real estate has been a challenge, but it’s something we really look forward to balancing for the rest of our lives. We know music’s our biggest passion, also we’re for sure passionate about real estate. It’s what brings money in so our parents are like “kind of have to do that,” and we nailed that.
Krish: It works really well because making all these celebrity contacts over these past 2 or 3 years, we used to live in LA a bit and met a lot of people. Now we’re starting to inform everyone we do real estate. We just posted on our Instagram officially. We joined Compass, which is the biggest brokerage in the nation for real estate, we’re the youngest in the celebrity division of Compass. It feels good to be doing both. We look forward to leveraging our celebrity contact in the real estate world. We already do a lot of luxury listings because of our parents’ connections in the tech industry, but it’s a really cool things we have going on in the next couple years to see where this thing leads to.