With a dedicated music channel, new event organisers and new listeners, the independent music scene in India is looking to expand its fan base beyond the metros
There is something about Swarathma’s music that made 17-year-old Vishwaraj Mahadik organise his first indie music gig in Kolhapur. It was at Bacardi NH7 Weekender, the biggest annual indie music festival in India, in Pune that Mahadik first heard the Bangalore-based folk-rock band perform their hugely popular earthy rhythm and homespun lyrics in Hindi and Kannada.
“I wanted to bring a rock band to Kolhapur, something that they have not seen before. But it needed to be a Hindi band so people can understand what they are singing. People loved the show, and I’m planning to make this an annual affair,” says Mahadik.
1,000 people attended the concert and Mahadik’s initiative is one of the many developments that is getting bands, brands and event managers excited about the independent, or indie music scene in India.
In the past five years, indie music has unshackled itself from hole-in-the-wall venues, and some select clubs in the country, to reach out to a large number of listeners with festivals such as NH7 Weekender (that travels to Pune, Bangalore, Delhi and Kolkata), Sunburn, Ragasthan, among others.
The music scene now has set its sights on making their music relevant in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities like Ahmedabad, Surat, Agra, Baroda and Jodhpur. “Indie music has come to a point where it does not need to be a small cult, the music movement has become much larger, ” says Aditya Swamy, head, MTV India.
The channel launched Pepsi MTV Indies last week with a format that gets ride of the VJ, plays only independent music in all languages from all over India, and is dedicated to promoting independent endeavours in comedy, fashion and graffiti. Shows like One For The Road will see known artists such as Raghu Dixit, Shaa’ir and Func busking on the streets; Punk-Indiepedia will explain the lexicon of the indie community to new recruits; Open Files will be about album art and Tinker Tailor is a show on fashion.
Uday Benegal, vocalist of Indus Creed and Whirling Kalapas has seen the indie music boom of the ’90s, its eventual implosion and now its resurgence.
“In the ’90s, both access to music and producing it as musicians was difficult. Now, a kid in a small town can produce his own music sitting at home, using softwares like Abelton or Logic. Whether it is rock, or electronic music, there will soon be artists from smaller towns that people will hear of,” he says.
Angaraag Mahanta, popularly known as Papon, is an example of what television can do for an artist who is not from a metro city. The Assamese musician and composer, who leads a electric folk-fusion band based in Delhi called the East India Company, won thousands of new fans after his continued…