Tej Brar : The Manager Behind Your Favorite Indie Artists.

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Tej Brar, the Head Of Artist Management of Only Much Louder,  manages some of the cutting-edge fresh sounds of the independent music scene like Nucleya, Dualist Inquiry, Sandunes, Nicholson, The F16s and more. He was very much a part of Nucleya’s exponential trajectory over the past three years. With Sahej Bakshi aka Dualist Inquiry he also has a record label namely Dualism Records.

We had chance to pick his brain and he helped us dwell into a variety of things from his journey with Nucelya, his ‘branding approach’ and the favorite tracks of the artist he manages. Check it out!

Q) What did you see in Nucleya that made you work with him three years ago when he wasn’t doing so well? What do you look for in an artist musically?

I just thought he had a really unique sound, and he still does. There’s a bunch of producers out there trying to replicate it nowadays and pull off the desi-bass sound, but people can tell immediately if it’s a Nucleya track. I find that super interesting, the fact that a song can come on and people instantaneously know it’s a particular artist. In addition to that he was just a really humble good dude. He had no airs about him and I knew he was ready to put the work in. Now, 3 years down the line he has kept up his side of the deal (music, performances) and I like to think I kept mine (management, bookings). The work has paid off, but that’s not enough to become complacent. We’re working harder than ever right now and pushing towards the next set of goals. As far as what I look for in an artist from a musical point of view, it’s just to have a sound of your own. Be as unique as possible, don’t try to imitate an artist or a sound just because it’s popular. I think most of the acts OML represents have done that successfully from Dualist to Sandunes to Nicholson, etc everyone has a pretty well developed and refined sound that is immediately recognizable as them.

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Q) According to you, there’s some basic ‘hygiene’ work that each artist needs to do. Could you highlight what that comprises of for upcoming acts in the scene?

Sure. Hygiene is basically the stuff that every artist needs to have, it’s the basics that allow you to function as a professional musician. It goes without saying that your production and performance needs to be solid first. I would say the stuff that makes hygiene up on a base level is the following – press shots, tech rider, logo and social media channels across platforms. The next step up from this would be trademarking your name & logo, ensuring your music is distributed across as many stores as possible and having some documentation that shows the rights to your music are all held by you. As an artist grows the kind of hygiene needed changes and evolves with scale, but hygiene is basically the stuff you need to have in place in order to function.

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Q) A lot of emphasis is put by you on the branding of your artists. What, in your opinion, is artist branding done right? How should bands and artists approach it?

I believe that each artist is a brand themselves. They represent a certain aesthetic and that is ultimately what their community connects with across mediums, be it the music, the image, the artwork etc. I think it’s really important for an artist to have a really clear idea of who they are and what they want to do. Once the artist has that kind of clarity, it’s my job to flesh it out and package it in order to put it across to their audience the best I can. In some cases the packaging is done to make the artist more commercially viable, but in other instances it’s done just because we want to show what the artist stands for and believes in or even just because we think stuff is cool and it fits the vibe of the artist. I don’t know if that adequately answers the question, but this is kind of how I’ve approached it. The vision & direction comes from the artist and then I build the marketing and positioning around it just like you would with a traditional brand. Possibly the best example I can think of of an artist branding themselves and really fleshing out that brand over time is Snoop Dogg. His audience knows exactly what he stands for and what he represents across music, aesthetic, artwork etc. Because his brand is so strong itself, there are tons of other actual real brands that want to associate with him to get that “snoop” factor – he has got literally every endorsement and product out there from sneakers to vaporizers to energy drinks to smoking paraphernalia. And what really stands out is that it all makes sense, his personal brand aligns so well with all of these endorsed brands that the products make sense. Artists just need to really know what they stand for and who they are, that is the essence of what their “brand” will ultimately become.  

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Q) You regularly work on the ‘image’ of your artists so that they can be described in a sentence. Could you describe the following artists in a sentence for us? Also, what’s your favourite track by each?

i) Nucleya – Little Lotto

BADASS GLOBAL BASS MONSTER.

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ii) Dualist Inquiry – Sleepwalker

DIVERSE TREE OF LIVE ELECTRONICA WITH ROCK ROOTS.

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iii) Sandunes – Crystal Pink.

INSTRUMENTAL ELECTRONICA THAT IS SYNTH & PERCUSSION HEAVY. 

iv) Nicholson – Videogames (Lana Del Rey cover)

LUSH AMBIENT ELECTRO ACOUSTIC LANDSCAPES.

v) Anish Sood – Radiohead Reckoner Remix.

THIS DUDE CAN MAKE ANY PARTY DANCE, SUPER VERSATILE AND SKILLED DJ.

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vi) Reggae Rajahs – Indian Girl Dubplate

INDIA’S FIRST REGGAE SOUNDSYSTEM, THE PIONEERS OF REGGAE ACROSS INDIA.


Q) What are your expectations from the scene in the future?

 Bigger, better, faster, stronger.

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Thank you for reading! If you want to talk about a band you love, or a band you think everyone should know about, please leave a comment or send in your mails to indiebullhorn@gmail.com. You can also mail us if you have any articles you’d like to send. To see more cool stuff like interviews, album reviews, release updates and lots more, stay tuned. Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Wolves : The Visual Artists Behind Your Favorite Shows

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Visual artists truly are an amazing species. Turning the mundane into the fantastic is probably just another day in the office for them. And one group seems to be particularly good at precisely that. We’re talking about Wolves, one of India’s leading visual agencies. With a portfolio spanning across the most renowned acts both within the country and outside such as Noisia, Mutemath, Nucleya, Karsh Kale and Dualist Inquiry, to some of the biggest events which includes the YouTube Fanfest and Sunburn 2015 editions. I think the following video gives a pretty good idea of what these guys are capable of:

And that’s only one year.
As for 2016:

 

Yup. Giant killer robot kings. And that’s just one event.

Stellar representatives of the burgeoning visual artist scene in the country, Wolves started off as a duo comprising of Jash Reen and Josh D’Mello and have grown into a full fledged pack that handles everything from projection mapping to augmented reality, the latter being quite indicative of the pair’s love for Pokemon Go. Even if those terms sound fancy to you, the bottom line is that if it’s visuals, there are few who can beat Wolves at their game. This fantastic group has grown from strength to strength and become an integral part of the music scene in the country, so much so, that it’s worth going for the gigs even if it’s just to see the mad visuals these guys come up with.

We talked to Jash about everything from what makes them tick, favourite artists, their inspirations and their opinion of the scene. Check it out!

Q) What’s the story behind the name Wolves? How did you guys get into the visual artist industry? What were your first steps as professionals and what do you consider your breakthrough moment?

We’ve told so many different version of the ‘name story’, I’m not sure which one’s right anymore. Where we’re at now, we like the fact that an artist, a group of artists or even a company can exist under a completely inconspicuous and unrelated brand name and give weight to that name, rather than the name define them. The Wolves title for some reason just clicked with us and people who enjoyed our work. They instantly recognise the name and the symbol that goes with it. We’re really grateful for that.

We’ve never had formal training or an educational background in visual work (and I guess that’s all the more reason to hide behind a strange name). But we firmly believe that curiosity in this, the year of our internet, crushes all myths related to professions. If you’re determined to create, work hard and stand by your art, the designations will follow. Best case it’s a designation you’ve created for yourself.

Our breakthrough moment was at a relatively nascent stage when we did a small projection mapping setup for (a then upcoming) Nucleya. It’s still a bit overwhelming how things built up from there.

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Q) What are the things that inspire you to create the things that you do? What is the process behind creating visuals for any particular artist or event, and how collaborative is the process?

We (Josh and I) grew up as best friends in the golden age of nineties pop culture, film, comics and videogames. Mainstream superheroes in tights, left of centre anti-heroes, cult horror icons, you name it — they took up a lot of our time and they still do. I feel that everything we create till date somehow pays homage to that era.

Collaborating with musicians and artists that are totally out of our comfort zone is the only reason we still find relevance in what we do. We go by a strict code of starting with an empty canvas and customising our sets and installations to a collective vision between us and them. We rarely repeat ourselves. What could have easily remained a pet project is now ravenous just in terms of the ideation work we put behind every project, right down to the technical all nighters that help bring them to life.

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Q) Who are your favorite Indian indie artists? Jash, you used to play in a metal band, do you think that the musician in you has influenced your work as a visual artist?

Haha I love that you dug that up. I’ve honestly been a punk/ hardcore fan for as long as I can remember. I played in metal bands because that was the only kind of aggressive music that had an audience in India. This music — bands like Norma Jean, Every Time I Die, The Ghost Inside and Vanna — still drives me because of the DIY ethics and strong communities they hold together. They’re not always very well accepted on the charts and that drives them to package their music with stronger themes down to their album art and merchandise. It’s definitely influenced my work.

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Q) Which has been your favourite visual set up with an Indian indie artist so far? What was the idea behind it?

It’s come full circle. We just had the honour of doing Nucleya’s latest live visual rig for his Bass Yatra Tour. It’s a giant LED fortress that pays homage to each of the iconic avatar’s from his various albums (created by his wife Smriti airphish.com). We’ve adapted a ridiculous amount of larger-than-life size animations to the whole layout, and the fact that it’s complementing a boundary crushing artist like Nucleya makes every night on the tour special.

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Q) Who are some artists that you would love getting the chance to work with?

Joris de Jong is an absolute mentor and I don’t even think he knows it yet. Besides being a vital contributor to live visuals worldwide (he co-created Resolume Arena) his thought process with every update has been shockingly parallel to our workflow. It would be great that are schedules so that we can work with him. Other visual companies that are constantly keeping us on our toes are Eye Supply, V-Squared Labs and Neither Field.

If you’re talking about artists in music, Josh and I would argue for a bit, but I think we’d settle on Deftones, M83, Chemical Brothers and Massive Attack.

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Q) What advice would you guys give to aspiring visual artists and to musicians looking to implement visuals into their live performances?

Don’t wait for someone to give you a chance. Get the software, show up at clubs/venues and take your best shot. Any ground you achieve with that, is more than any art degree or educational institution can offer you.

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Q) What’s your take on the current indie scene and the position of live visuals in it? What are your expectations from the future?

I think the word indie is exhausted. It’s just a subconscious term that keeps crawling up in conversations with artists, and for the most part it translates to them being amateurs, but we’re all getting pretty good aren’t we? Let’s ditch the indie brand and start powerful brands of our own. I’m not pointing fingers, I just want every artist coming up locally to know their worth right now. I perceive every dedicated artist in about 5 years to be a force to reckon with; when I say dedicated, I mean right from the creation stage to marketing it and making a whole lot of noise, till everyone is listening of course.

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Q) What’s next for Wolves?

Honestly? Shows, Long car journeys playing Pokemon Go, Shows, Mortal Kombat, Repeat.

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Thank you for reading! If you want to talk about a band you love, or a band you think everyone should know about, please leave a comment or send in your mails to indiebullhorn@gmail.com. You can also mail us if you have any articles you’d like to send. To see more cool stuff like interviews, album reviews, release updates and lots more, stay tuned. Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.