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Video Tales

Video diaries — live performances with interviews thrown in occasionally —are the latest windows to Indian independent music culture

Written by Zaira Arslan | Published: July 31, 2013 4:55:34 am

In June last year,vocalist Ananda Sen and lead guitarist Rohan Ganguly of The Supersonics sat down on a bench outside a tea stall in Lower Parel’s Mathurdas Mills Compound and performed an acoustic version of their song The living room shuffle. The band was at the Only Much Louder (OML) office — in the same compound — and as everyone stepped out for tea,it was suggested that they should jam too. This impromptu show was recorded by videographers at NH7.in,a division of OML,and uploaded as Chaiwala Sessions.

Just over two minutes long,the video relays the performance,interspersed with shots of the chaiwala and the crowd around them. “After this,whenever we had musicians visiting us at the office,we would conduct these sessions as demos,” says Nikhil Udupa of NH7.in,who’s helped put the Chaiwala Sessions series together. Six months and three more episodes later,they decided to team up with Society Tea and turn these demos into a series of music video diaries. They have since released four episodes,with alt-rock bands Spud In The Box and The Circus and,earlier this week,Bangalore folk fusion band Swarathma.

This format of having bands performing one song,filming it and putting it up online has became popular in the country. One of the most popular and possibly the longest standing series is the Tehelka Music Project,which released its first video in January 2011. This was followed by a Delhi edition of BalconyTV — a concept that was started in Ireland in 2006 — in February last year; IndiEarth Out There by IndiEarth,a platform for the promotion of independent music,in November last year; and The Soundcheck Project,a Kolkata-specific series started by Magrub Ali,a full-time civil engineer,in April this year.

BalconyTV Delhi and the Music Project alternate established musicians with newer ones. “While we’ve featured some prominent national and global names on the channel,such as Susmit Sen,Mark Atkins (Australia) and the Reggae Rajahs,we’ve also made discoveries we’re proud of. This includes young Delhi singer Harpreet,a new band called Rishi Inc and a Kabir Lok Bhajan Mandal from rural Madhya Pradesh,” says Rishi Majumder,one of the three producers of the series.

The Soundcheck Project and IndiEarth,on the other hand,focus on the newer lot. The former is committed to bringing young bands from Kolkata into prominence. “We saw it was happening across the country but not Kolkata,” says Ali. So,through the 12 episodes of the first season,he has featured pop-rock band The Monkey In Me; Deep Phoenix,a guitarist; duo Bodhi and Tanya; and guitarist,composer and producer Varun Kishore,among others.

Similarly,season one of IndiEarth Out There focussed primarily on Chennai talent and included rock act The Shakey Rays; Blues Conscience,a blues band; alt-rock outfit Grey Shack; and Anthony in Party,a Tamil folk fusion act.

While the videos by “Soundcheck Project” and the “Music Project”,essentially consist of the performance

of one song,such as Chaiwala Sessions,the other two include short interviews too. Both formats have been successful primarily by virtue of being visual mediums. “Audio is important too,but this serves as a visual aid,” says Ali.

Sonya Mazumdar,CEO of IndiEarth,elaborates. “We live in audio-visual times and things are more visual now,” she says,“People now often search for music on YouTube as opposed to audio platforms.”

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