High Down Under

An underground music and arts movement in the city is looking to spread wings

Written by Jaskiran Kapoor | Published: August 29, 2013 2:32 am

Their agenda is to save music from corporate shackles and help youngsters appreciate art and artistes,and also club in some fun. City-based musicians Siddharth Sharma (popularly known as Dub Sharma),Yash Khullar and Kunal Malhotra have laid the foundation of the Ruff Sound System (RSS) with the conscious choice to play a different beat. Music,they feel,has to be set free and be “of the people,for the people,and by the people”. Which is why the first element to make its way out is money. Commercial corruption,says the team behind RSS,restricts true growth of any artiste and eventually leads to exploitation. “RSS is not just a name,but a homegrown culture that lets art grow. This concept was created keeping in mind the freedom of an artiste to create,express,perform and display,” says Malhotra.

It is also a project to help any kind of quality underground art such as graffiti and crafts,among others. A non-profit project,RSS saw its first gig in July this year. The publicity was via word of mouth,and the venue was arranged at a rundown warehouse in nearby Jagatpura. The event saw performances by local artists including emcee Rob C,

Miracle Drugg and Sharma. “Our sound vendor,Vijay Paul Singh,arranged the venue,and we pooled in our own money,about Rs 2,000 each,and made space for about 40 people,” says Malhotra. The event finally hosted 100 guests and RSS made its official debut.

In their quest to keep the sanctity of music alive,the three have laid out strict rules,including no alcohol,smoking or drugs at the event. The timings too have to be followed strictly. “Our gig was from 7 pm to 9 pm,and we made sure it went by the clock. We even had taxis arranged for girls,” says Khullar. For safety reasons,they got in bouncers too. “Since there was no drinking,there were no brawls,” says Sharma. The event got a boost with a live Facebook page,Twitter feed and a map to the venue. “We took pictures of the route and created a virtual map to be downloaded and followed. It was a hit,” says Malhotra. Another highlight was Sharma’s customised ringtone available for free download coinciding with the gig.

Since they are musicians themselves,the trio felt that the city needed a change of scene. “People want to hear good music beyond the usual Hindi,Sufi and Punjabi. They want to catch a good gig and be home in time too. We are trying to create this very unadulterated environment where the only high is music and arts,” says Malhotra. As artistes,they admit to having faced corporate influence and interference by venue owners and sponsors directing them to take requests and perform a certain kind of style to promote their venue or brand. “During performances,people are busy drinking at the bar. Few people go out clubbing because of exorbitant cover charges and the no-stag entry rule,” says Malhotra,adding how their gig is open to all,free of cost. “All this peripheral interference affects the real music and the artiste. This is why we never let money or brands or sponsors to ever come in between,” says Khullar.

The three have also kept the whole process organic. “We applied for a Creative Commons license for this. It’s a non-profit,non-commercial distribution license,which basically means that it’s not a personal property. Anyone can take over and run the show independently,” says Malhotra. They’ve also collaborated with Chetan Monga from Adam’s Tees who has designed some funky T-shirts with taglines such as “Time Se Aao,Time Se Jao” and “Aithe Na Fooko”,among others,for them.

The only support the trio is looking for is with regard to venue and food arrangements apart from couch support for outstation artistes. “One couch per fan will help us save money and help fans connect better with the movement. Also,we are open to potluck food,and water arrangements,” says Malhotra. The music movement is open to

all genres,irrespective of language. The second gig is being planned for September 14.

(For more information,log on to http://www.ruff.co.vu or visit

RSS’ Facebook page)

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