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.
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.
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.
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.
ii) Dualist Inquiry – Sleepwalker
DIVERSE TREE OF LIVE ELECTRONICA WITH ROCK ROOTS.
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.
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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