Backstage Pass : Artist Manager Tej Brar On India’s Independent Music Scene.

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We had a chance to pick Tej Brar’s brain, the man behind the artist management agency, Third Culture. He put us up on game regarding his approach and outlook on the music industry. Check it out :

Q) Given that the main revenue stream for artists is live shows, you have put it really well by saying :

“Use your content as a marketing device for your live shows.”

Could you expand a bit more as to how artists can go about this?

Ans. There’s basically two things going on here. The first is that with digital distribution and streaming, revenue from digital downloads and streaming is basically negligible – so that makes those revenue streams basically non-sustainable for an artist to earn a living from. As we have seen in the rest of the world and in India this essentially means that the artist has to turn to live shows to earn a living. Now once an artist puts a release out, there is a certain time frame where that content is relevant and has real impact. Within that window the artist goes on the road to tour behind that material and has the best earning potential off that release. That window in today’s digital world is about a year, at most two years. Once that cycle is complete the artist needs new content in order to be able to draw fans back to their live show, because that is where the money is. Secondly, there are various peripheral content bits that can be made around the primary release (album/single) that help to keep the content relevant, examples of this include behind the scenes, music videos, sync deals or licensing. These peripheral bits can extend the longevity of that particular piece of content.

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Q) Could you expand a bit on an artist’s “Long Term vs. Short Term” goals and how they can take decisions through that?

Ans. The first thing is that whatever is listed down under either of these categories should be practical. For example, someone who hasn’t release a track yet saying I want to be Steve Aoki in the next year is not going to happen. Short term goals are goals that can be achieved in the next 6 to 12 months. Things that can be achieved if the right decisions are made during that time frame. Examples can include, finishing and releasing X album, or playing X number of shows, or getting X company to endorse me, or putting on a show at X venue.

Long term goals are loftier goals, they are the ones that take a serious amount of preparation and hard work in order to achieve. These typically will take anywhere from 3 to 5 years to achieve and are basically a culmination of an individual or group’s aspirations as an artist(s). Examples of these would be signing to a big international label, touring internationally, having enough income coming in for music to be an entirely sustainable full-time job, becoming popular enough within India that they are now an important part of the cultural landscape. An artist really needs to sit down and think about what is important to them, then it’s the manager’s job to chart out that trajectory and what it is going to take to get there. The short term goals that need to be ticked off, in order to achieve the long term ones. The artists needs to be realistic about their expectations and the manager needs to be practical in their approach.

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Q) In today’s YouTube savvy market, artists are finding it tough to put regular content to stay digitally relevant. How can artist concentrate on their creative pursuits and still find balance in putting out content and expand their audience?

Ans. I actually think that YouTube and other digital platforms have actually made it much much easier than before to distribute content and remain relevant. Now, artists and content creators can speak directly to their audience without having to go through a traditional channel like television or radio. They can do it how they want whenever they want. It allows them a lot more freedom to express themselves creatively. To answer your question above on how to find balance, I think the best way to do that is to make their audience part of their creative process, show them what it’s like when working on material with behind the scenes stuff, vlogs, just including them in the journey. That is, of course if the artist is comfortable with that. Otherwise, what we have found quite successful is having someone else who updates social media, just so the artists doesn’t have to worry about that at all. It’s taken off their plate entirely. 

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Q) Nucleya is Nucleya, and his shows are absolutely kickass. But how should say singer-songwriters or the more eclectic and ambient producers go about in putting on a great live show?

Ans. I don’t think it’s all about flash or gimmicks. I think it’s really about what the artist wants to express and how they want to showcase their art in a live setting. There are some incredibly talented people out there in the independent space who are going incredible work in the indie live space and I think the more eclectic and ambient producers can look to them to collaborate and put in something really incredible. Some examples are Ground Control and what they are doing with lighting. Studio Moebius with visuals and animation, Sourya Sen and UT with visuals, VJ Zombie. There’s a bunch of really exciting collaborators. I think it’s important for an act to want to put on more than just a basic stage show and I think the audience is ready for it as well. For example, Nicholson did an entire show where they were just silhouettes behind a mosquito netting that has visuals projected onto it. The artist needs to want to go that extra mile.

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Nicholson/LANDS’s live set-up.

Q) With good quality music being put out every other week, why do the artists across India still have to fight over the same five venues? Is the lack of venues because it is not economically viable from a business standpoint or is the reason something else?

Ans. Those venues are usually being fought over because they are considered the taste maker venues. They are the venues that are usually being frequented by hipper kids who will go on and influence their friends to maybe check out a new act or explore a new sound. Also, a lot of other venues will look at those 5 venues for programming inspiration and take cues from what they are programming. So those venues become important in breaking acts and setting trends, but they are certainly not the only venues to play in the country. I personally think that once an artist has played there once or twice, it’s important to look outside of that circuit and see what other venues and cities might be out there for them to explore. Also, I think the large issue that you indicated in the question about good quality music being put out every week, does not really relate to venues but instead related to how that music is being distributed. I think it’s more important for independent artists to focus on their digital distribution strategies than to worry about playing at one of the “it” venues.

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Q) Is India’s music scene a ‘Bombay-only’ party? How should artists from different parts of the country navigate without say Bombay, or Bangalore, or Delhi’s infrastructure?

Ans. It is absolutely NOT a Bombay only party. Sure, Bombay is where a lot of artists migrate to in order to network and find other work – but the B and C tier cities are really where the opportunity is both as an artist and as a promoter. Bombay is oversaturated as are most of the big metros across the country. Also, there is a sense of people being a little jaded in those big metros, they think they’ve seen and experienced it all already, if not within India then outside of it while travelling. In B and C cities, the game is wide open. There are large numbers of young people who are interested in exploring alternative music and culture. As an artist you can build your own audience first hand and really become a hometown hero and as a promoter there are so many great acts that you could bring down and introduce to that market. Artists wise, everyone is up to explore outside of the big 4 metros they have been touring for the last five years, so it’s really a promoters dream if they play their cards right.

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Q) What message would you give artists who believe they can’t push beyond the ‘glass ceiling’ of the India’s independent music scene? How should they be navigating and make decisions in their careers?

Ans. I think it’s important for them to try and look at the industry from outside the box. Look at how the systems are set up right now and think, how can we do this differently? What else can be done here that hasn’t been done before? It’s really important to not just accept that things are a certain way, but to question why they are that way. Once you start doing that then all kinds of other possibilities become apparent. Other ways of doing things that you could not see right up at the front. Super important to challenge the norm and experiment with other models and ways of doing things and that when the envelope will get pushed.

 

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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Third Culture : We Build Culture, Not Individuals.

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“Third Culture comes from the term ‘Third Culture Kids‘, who are basically global citizens. They are individuals who grew up in cultures outside of their parents own. Their parents are from one culture, while the country they grow up in has a second culture, and the amalgamation of these two cultures results in a new, third culture, which is theirs and unique.”, says Tej Brar on the story behind the name of his artist management agency, ‘Third Culture‘.

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Born to an Indian father and a English mother, Tej identifies himself as a Third Culture kid. He grew up across Australia and the US before returning to India, where he made a name for himself as the talented manager behind Nucleya‘s success story. Tej finally stepped down as the Head Of Artist Management at Only Much Louder(OML) early last year to launch Third Culture, a new company with a fresh mindset :

“We build culture, not individuals.”

“The idea behind the tagline is that our goal is larger than just creating successful careers for our artists. Sure, that is the base objective, but we hope those successful artists shape their city or even the country’s culture through their careers – be it introducing new sounds, putting on different live show experiences or even just the way they distribute music for their audience base to consume. The overall goal is to create a sustainable and vibrant community for independent music across India.”, says Tej.

If managing one of India’s biggest act isn’t enough, Third Culture’s illustrious roster comprises of another gem beside Nucleya, Gaurav Malaker aka BLOT. “BLOT is probably my favorite DJ to dance to in India. He’s essentially a house and techno artist but who plays and produces the more emotive and deeper side of those genres. He’s someone I have known as a friend for the last 5 or so years and we’ve always wanted to work together”, says Tej. While Nucleya is massive stadiums and outdoor shows, BLOT is Tej’s connect to the clubs and keeping his feet in the underground. He says, “Both Udyan(Nucleya) and him are no nonsense, let’s get the job done dudes.”

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It’s safe to say the powerhouse duo of Nucleya and Tej has had an iconic run over the last couple of years and there’s no stopping them, but it seems that their personal relationship has blossomed as fruitfully as their professional one. “My relationship with Udyan, it’s changed a lot over the years. We started as a manager and client relationship, soon after became friends and now we’ve sort of moved into a place where we are family. At this point we are beyond brothers. Our careers have become so intertwined that it’s difficult to tell the story of one without the other. For me, my relationship with Udyan is about much more than just music and gigs. It’s literally about life planning and what is really important in life. The gigs and music and money is a very small part of what we share now. He is an amazing person and I am very lucky to have shared such an incredible ride with him so far.” When asked about the one thing fans don’t know about Nucleya, Tej surprises us by dropping the news that the Raja Baja is in fact a fully qualified Chartered Accountant. Tej says, “I mean, he has literally never used those skills ever, but he has a piece of paper saying he is qualified. After every show, there is always a bunch of kids who come up and talk about how they don’t want to finish college or that their family is forcing them to do a degree, but what they don’t know is that Nucleya had to do the exact same thing. He always tells them that they can do both, do the degree but also do music on the side, that those things do not have to be mutually exclusive and I think that is really good advice. It’s really hard to make a full time career in music and it’s important to have that backup option, because the reality is that not everyone will make it as a musician.” Well kids, if the country’s finest DJ tells you to take a degree before pursuing a career in music, you better do that.

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Nucleya will stop touring in April 2018, in order to work full time on the full length follow up to Raja Baja which will come out towards the end of 2018, supported by a full blown tour and a new live show. BLOT! has a bunch of releases lined up that are currently being shopped to international labels. He will be debuting a brand new live show in 2018 as well which is currently being worked on. Tej concludes, “Third Culture will be looking at creating some video content of our own and probably move into promoting some shows next year with artists that we want to introduce to the Indian market. There’s a lot more ahead and I’m not in any rush to grow fast. Slow growth comprising intelligent financial decisions with an eye on longevity is how we plan to scale up.”

We wish Third Culture loads of success and hope that it inspires a newer generation of individuals looking forward to work in the music industry. All the more power to Tej, Nucleya and BLOT!

 

 

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.

Tejas : One glorious day of being a musician is always followed by 20 days of ‘WTF am I doing’.

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“If I can say I’ve truly done one thing in life I’m really proud of, it’s this album”, says singer-songwriter Tejas on his recently released full-length album, ‘Make It Happen’.

“I wanna know what people think when you make an unabashed, straight-up, pop-album”, says the 28-year old artist. The sonic progression from his 2014’s debut release, ‘Small Victories’ is hard to ignore. While that EP was charmingly fresh, ‘Make It Happen’ is a statement by an artist who has clearly honed his craft. Even with a pop-sound at the core, the album does explore various genres like Funk, RnB, Rock and Folk, making it all the more richer. Tejas credits this to the knowledge he has garnered over the last two years as a professional musician, which enabled him to have a firmer creative control on the fabrication of his current release.

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“I absolutely feel no loss in having missed the label boat”, says Tejas referring to the recording deal that fell through last year. But fortunately, this made Tejas crowd-fund the entire album, which not only felt way more rewarding but also thematically fit the album title. He crowd funded a whopping 2 Lakhs in 6 hours. This is a great testament of potential consumers who are willing to pay for quality independent content in a Bollywood-driven country.

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With a sudden burst of excitement, Tejas scurries away and proudly shows me the physical copy of the album. It is a really neat booklet which opens up beautifully to showcase the code for the album, lyrics, track-list, along with some extra goodies. Flip it, and you’ll find a kickass poster! With a passionate gleam in his eyes he narrates the story behind the poster and is all praises for Mira Malohtra’s ‘Studio Kohl’ who are behind the artwork.

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Tejas’s love for art, nerd culture, animation and cartoon is wholly represented in the strikingly colorful album art. The more noticeable ones are for the track, ‘Kindness’, which is a Hand Of God, for the track essential is – “Tejas vs. God in three acts”(this track might also feature Vishal Dadlani in the vocals in the album’s deluxe version). While for the track ‘Wine’ we have a playful taxi, which is a throwback to Tejas’s famous car jam for the song. It is evident that painstaking attention has been given to every nuance of the album experience.

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We finally come to my favorite track from the album, ‘Maybe We’re Not Enough’. It’s a beautifully soulful, yet a sad closer to the record. When asked about it, Tejas pauses and says, “It was a fucking cry out for help. One of my darker moments, I’ll admit.” The song encapsulates all the anxiety he had been through. The latency period between writing and releasing this album was emotionally exhausting for him. Coupled with the fact that he had to halt the recording after 5 days because he discovered he was suffering from dengue. This took a toll both physically and mentally, but he convinced that 2017 and releasing this record had been the light at the end of the tunnel for a rather turbulent 2016.

“Honestly, doing this album has been the most rewarding thing. I’ve broken my head over this damn thing for so long that it’s made me a little more cynical about a bunch of things. But I’m so much more richer for having it done it myself”, says Tejas. He looks like a seasoned musician who has finally learned to play the game.

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Tejas truly wants to pass on whatever he has learnt over the years, the extension of which is his label, ‘Kadak Apple Records’. Tejas says, “I want to be that person. I wanna be a custodian for whatever I know. I want more people in this industry.” Tejas believes if you want to truly get into the scene, go in full throttle. Do a good album, good design, put effort into your music and don’t half-ass anything. There is a difference between talent and hard work, and sometimes it’s not pretty. “Every one day of glorious feeling[of being a indie musician], comes with 20 days of ‘WTF am I doing’, says Tejas. He continues, “You have to wear 800 different hats man, otherwise you are just yesterday’s news.”

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In the course of the recent few months, Tejas has successfully managed to accomplish three of his major life goals : releasing this record, playing a show back home in Dubai, & seeing KT Tunstall live. When asked what’s next, he introspects and answers, “Leave India for a bit, man. I’ve this great calling card in the form of this album. I think the world needs to become my 30 city tour where I travel to get fresh again.” But before he takes the next step and starts a new chapter, he does plan to tick a few things off : like doing a proper tour, releasing the deluxe album, putting out other content like music videos. Well, we can only wish this talented singer-songwriter luck on his journey ahead and we hope, he makes it happen!

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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.

Sri : The Indie Scene’s Spirit Is Inspiring.

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A new addition to the family of several singer-songwriter releases this year is a delightful self-titled debut EP from Mumbai based indie artist Sri.

Srijit Bhowmick has been writing his music for almost 9 years, but it wasn’t until recently that he decided to take his talent to the stage and to people’s ears. “I came to a point in life where I felt overwhelmed by the amount of material I had written. So, I put up a show of my own with a little help from others in Jan ’16. That was my first gig as Sri”, says the singer-songwriter who then released the three-track EP. The song ‘Am I Here’ got included in Apple Music India’s weekly playlist : ‘The A-List : Indian Pop’.

Sri cites a varied range of musician from the Indian scene as his influences. He says, “It was mostly the spirit of playing one’s own music against all odds that influenced me more than anything else from the Indian indie scene that I was exposed to.” Being a Bengali himself, a lot of Bangla acts such as Cactus, Fossils and Anjan Dutta influenced him. But the more he got exposed, the more indie bands made into his playlists. “Started with Zero, big fan and was hooked to their songs. Parikrama’s ‘But It Rained’ followed. Then Blackstratblues, big fan. ‘Anuva’s Sky’ by Blackstratblues is still one of my favorites”, says Sri. From the newer lot he likes Parvaaz, Prateek Kuhad, Shantanu Pandit, Imphal Talkies, Nikhil D’souza and more.

If the EP can be described in one word it would be : potential.“I wanted to represent the wide variety of songs I penned down over the years in terms of musicality, songwriting, vocal capabilities, range of topics, and so on and so forth, through my debut release”, says Sri. He is a distinct songwriter with a voice yearning to tell a story. He’s truly experimental with his voice and you can almost hear the emotions pour from his words. Sonically, it predominantly consists of his acoustic guitar and his voice with occasional keys and other instruments trotting along. On the raw instrumentation he says, “Creatively, I wanted to keep the essence of my songs intact – make them sound just how I wrote, imagined, and wanted them to be or as close as possible”. Sri had to strike a balance between the creativity of capturing the natural folksy roughness of his songs with the perils of the limitations that comes with being a independent musician. But he sure made it work, he says, “Satyajit Ray’s films are a great example, if you know what I mean, as he would easily turn his limitations to his advantage”.  Even though there were times in the EP where his ambitious vocals would eat up the words he sang, there’s no doubt Sri is bound to leave a mark and has a long way to go.

Sri doesn’t want a particular genre to succeed, but the individuals and the entire scene to grow. “I like the universality of what we are as individuals. The nature of making music is such that it may require all sorts of talents, and craftsmen and craftswomen. We need more of them primarily be it singer-songwriters, instrumentalists, songwriter-musicians, instrumentalist-songwriters, sound engineers or whatever. And then at different stages of operations, we need those who form the support system around them and/or help in terms of turning it and their own efforts into legit businesses or entities as well such as publications, music journalism, lawyers, artist management companies, venues, sponsors, fans, listeners, helping hands and the whole range of things. Each of us have specific roles we can play and excel in, and I wish we all keep on striving to do that primarily to the best of our abilities.”, says Sri.

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Sri is really keen on playing more shows and taking the EP to different places. He is hoping to connect to musicians and people on the business side of things of the scene. Who knows there might be a music video or a tour on the way? Well, we for one can’t wait!

 

 

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.

 

Sid Vashi : The big theme of ‘Azuma Kazuma’ is fear.

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“The big theme is fear. We are so uncertain about what we want to do next. So it’s really about coming to terms with your fear and saying, fuck it, let’s do this shit”, Sid Vashi on his starry debut album ‘Azuma Kazuma‘.

Born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, Sid had a varied spectrum of influences. His music is an eclectic mix of different genres structured by elaborate instrumentation and accompanied by sparing appearances by his distinct saxophone playing. Formally trained in jazz music, Sid insists everyone should dwell a little in music theory for it fosters creativity. He says, “It’s new ways to categorize your expression.”

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A fan of music first, Sid tries to listen to a different album every day. Currently rocking out to some Beach Boys, African artist Francis Bebey and the new Brand New album – ‘Science Fiction’. Sid doesn’t shy away from his Bollywood influences and is nostalgic of the over the top, synth driven music of the Burman era. He says, “I never saw it as the establishment music”. Given how visual his music can be, it’s no surprise that he cites the likes of Mani Ratnam, Vishal Bhardwaj and Anurag Kashyap as some of his favorite Indian film directors.

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After returning to India couple of years ago, he channeled his emotions of being an outsider in his home country into a heavily Bollywood sampled EP called ‘Motherland Tourism’. But later having felt that it didn’t represent him completely, he decided to take it down. He made a rather elaborate return with his extravagant album ‘Azuma Kazuma’.

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The story of ‘Azuma Kazuma’ revolves around a prospector in a large space mining conglomerate who undergoes a near death experience and decides to take control of his life. The story mirrors the time when Sid was bed-ridden for six weeks and decided to make this album. The album is two-part out of a trilogy, which shall be completed in Sid’s next album. Sid decided to work with visual artist Johnny Ghanta for this visuals to serve as an aesthetic guideline to the entire experience. “He’s one of the most inspiring people. He’s so creative he’s so driven and so interesting to be around”, Sid on his collaborator.

Where the album shines is the details in the overall experience. There are minute sonic detail which make the album all the more interesting. “I think of mixes like sonic architectures, you are creating an environment”, says Sid on his choice of sounds. Another standout factor would be the use of samples like the iconic vocals from Nicholson’s ‘For What‘ on the track ‘Paper Bones’. Indie artists rarely do covers or remixes of other acts, but this kind of sampling format has been dominant in hip-hop for the longest time. “That’s how you build a culture by being referential within it” , says Sid.

Given how geeky the Azuma Kazuma story is, it comes as no surprise that Sid happens to have a degree in neuroscience and philosophy. He makes no distinction between his artistic and academic side and embraces both wholly. He says, “I think all explorations, academic or artistic, are ultimately trying to determine what is true.”

Sid also is a part of Salvage Audio Collective which is group of producers  who provide audio solutions for several commercial and indie projects. Sid says it really helps him try different things. He continues, “I see other projects as an opportunity to be a sonic chameleon.”

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It’s been three odd months since Azuma Kazuma has released, but Sid doesn’t feel the pressure to put anything out. Besides the conclusion to his debut album, a possible reinterpretation of ‘Motherland Tourism’, Sid plans to drop couple of remixes and B-sides of Azuma Kazuma. With the festival season  around the corner and couple of DJ sets along the way, it’s pretty safe to say that this space boy is ready to go to infinity & beyond!

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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.

Easy Wanderlings : Decide what you want people to experience.

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“You gotta be worried when things are alright”, says Sanyanth Naroth. His infectious enthusiasm cuts right through the lazy Sunday morning vibes. He’s equally grateful and vigilant to the overall appreciation his band, Easy Wanderlings, have been getting lately. He continues to passionately talk about music, his journey, the band, and of course their debut album, ‘As Written In The Stars’.

For the longest time Easy Wanderlings had been quite the faceless band. Communicating solely via their music and artwork, not even the ardent of fans knew where the band came from or how many members it had.  Sanyanth insisted that the art had to come first and all he wanted was people to – “hear some good music, sit back & relax”. Things really blew up for the Wanderlings when their single ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’ made it on the playlist of the YouTube channel ‘Mostly Strings’ and garnered international recognition.

The band was co-founded by fellow wanderling Malay Vadalkar who happens to also be the recordist/mixing engineer for the album. Both have known each other for 10 odd years making even the most intense of creative disputes feel like “fighting with a sibling”. Pratika Gopinath was brought on board when her mesmerizing vocal chops perfectly fit the melody of ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’ and the songs that followed. Soon enough the wanderling family easily expanded to more members and even more places, with the wanderlings hailing from the likes of Pune, Darjeeling and Denmark.

Describing their sound as a ‘music journal’, the 8-track debut album is the testament that the wanderlings have come a long way from their first entry of home recorded singles. The entire album chronicles multiple stories of love, loss, ambition and everything in between, laced beautifully together with soulful acoustic melodies. A personal favorite would be ‘Dream To Keep Us Going’ as an intriguing intro if followed by some energetic chirpy tunes.  Sanyanth insists on always delivering a high quality product and giving it your best. He says, “Decide what you want people to experience.”

The wanderlings have currently cherry-picked only 8 songs for ‘As Written In The Stars’ and have kept some for future records. They have couple of exciting gigs on their way including the Barcadi NH7 Weekender later this year. They also have a music video out for ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’. Due to the single’s initial international success, they have found a great following overseas and when asked if they plan to tour abroad, Sanyanth says, “We have to. There’s no question about it!” So it’s safe to they have already taken steps to write the next chapter in this music journal, but we just might have to wait for a little while. Till then, enjoy while it lasts!

 

 

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.

 

 

Akash Vincent : ‘Singer-songwriter’ is not a genre.

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“For a long time I really had a problem with how ‘singer-songwriter’ is referred to as a genre”, says Akash Vincent. This statement is perfectly applicable to Akash who  recently dropped his sophomore EP ‘Polaris‘ which creatively explores varied sounds palettes like pop and r&b tied beautifully together by his voice and songwriting skills.

 

 

Akash’s music journey started off with being a metal drummer back in college but he finally found his footing in being more of a solo act. His influences range from the likes of Sting, Bob Dylan to local acts such as Soulmate, Donn Bhat & Red Mawkin. This 5-track EP is a follow-up to Akash’s debut effort ‘Postcards’.

 

Initially to be named as ‘North Star’, this EP is a reminder to be true to one self. This expression is encapsulated perfectly in the bouncy opener ‘Who I Am’. In an era where electronic music is on the forefront, it can be tough for ‘traditional’ singer-songwriters to find their space and be honest to their craft. Akash says, “It’s really easy to lose track of who you are and who you want to be.”

Staying true to the opening statement, there’s not one song that sounds remotely similar to the next. He manages to soulfully use a variety of instruments and meshes them together to deliver a distinct sound. His creative efforts were equally critiqued and supported by his collaborators Nikhil Mawkin, Abhinav Khokar & Gaurav Chintamani. Akash also keeps the band in mind while writing the songs and welcomes any sort of feedback. He says, “Musicians come in with their own colors and it is always welcomed.”

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A personal favorite would be the track ‘Anyway’ which has an overall sense of excitement and tension created by the cello melody flowing through the song. Inspired by how much effort gets put in to the packaging of albums like ‘Meteora’ by Linkin Park, Akash made sure the EP had a visual appeal. Each songs has its individual artwork created by the artist Nadini Bansal.

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At this very moment, Akash is tirelessly trying to push the EP and honing his craft as a live performer for the gigs in the upcoming months. It’s evident that his presence can no more be ignored as one patiently waits for his next set of songs. With EPs like these, Akash is likely to become a star of his own in India’s independent music galaxy!

 

Akash Vincent - live at Depot29

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.

Phatcowlee : ‘Cinema EP is an extension of self-expression’.

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Rajan Shrestha’s moniker originated by superimposing a huge cauliflower on a cow’s head, much like how his influences are a delightful amalgamation between the likes of Tool, Perfect Circle and that of Mathew Herbert and Trent Reznor.  His debut effort as Phatcowlee has been making waves in the indie scene for being raw, ethereal and well, cinematic.

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Predominantly known as being the bassist of Nepal’s stellar rock outfit, Jindabaad, Rajan first dipped his toes in electronic music production two-three years ago. Having an experience of being a musician for years, along with the confidence stemming from his days as a co-producer and recording engineer, Phatcowlee seemed like a natural metamorphism.  He doesn’t see much difference working alone or with a band. Both have their pros and cons. Being in a band and collaborating helped him grow as a musician, but Phatcowlee felt more like an intimate form of self-expression. “Sometimes we need to express ourselves in our unique way and I felt Phatcowlee is that extension of me”, says Rajan.

Released by India’s very own Consolidate records, this EP is really eargasmic. He chose his samples from famous old Nepali films and named the songs after them. Wooed over by the surge of nostalgia he faced while randomly flipping through channels, he record all the samples from the T.V. or YouTube. Even the cover art is from the film ‘Chino’. Terming his genre to be ‘Post Adhunik’ music, this EP is everything you expect it to be. Perfect blend of nostalgia with modern aesthetics.

It’s clear how visual Rajan is as a creative entity. From the EP name to the samples, there’s no doubt that films have influenced him. It should come as no surprise for he happens to be a video editor along with a photographer. So there might be a music video somewhere down the line.

Talking about the lack of a viable ecosystem, Rajan describes the Nepali music scene as, “bubble which might expand, but won’t burst.”  The lack of collaboration along with the dearth of long lasting entities to provide a sturdy platform for young artists seems like the every other day for this scene veteran. Amazed by the response to this EP, Rajan feels that collaboration is where the world is headed. This EP is a testament that in the internet era, you can find fellow creatives and help them out. It just might result in your art being experienced by an entirely new audience.

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Photo Credit : Prasiit Sthapit.

With the Sine Valley Festival this October, Rajan has decided to dedicate the rest of the year to his band Jindabaad, however he has already started working on the next album for Phatcowlee. And all we can say is that we can’t wait for his next endeavor!

 

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.

 

Worm’s Cottage: ‘To Each Their Own’ EP Review

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Worm’s Cottage of the Bangalore Consolidate family combines outdoorsy acoustic elements with soft electronica to deliver a crisp four track folktronic EP.

There’s a noteworthy sense of precision in choosing the sounds. He takes a minimalist approach to give a very raw and groovy feel. Tribal elements are abundant throughout. All the songs feel fresh, airy and light. The opening track ‘The Simplest Thing’ has some beautiful guitar parts. It’s exciting to see heartfelt acoustic elements pushed on the foreground in an electronic record.

 

Rocky at some parts, the entire EP does seem very cohesive and flows smoothly from song to song. Worm’s Cottage has been churning out music every year exploring different sound spaces. It’s going to be exciting to see where he goes next.

 

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.

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.