Posts Tagged ‘Commercial music’

Regardless of India’s sometimes archaic, some might even say burgeoning night life scene.. my search for a perfect party ended, when I got to experience the legendary Bedrock Records label boss John Digweed, a connoisseur of Progressive/ Tech-House at a local hot spot not so long ago. In a sea of events catering to raking in the big bucks, these nights brought out a handful number of fans old and new who love the underground. The two nights I speak of, remain unforgettable. The turn out was not as expected, but we who were there had an aural carnival. The lights down low, minimal fuss and a cavernous smoky vibe along-side the very nature of the hypnotic quality in the music was designed to dance uninhibitedly. The raving attitude of old, where one finds each other while floating around the room, if they want to on full display.

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In contrast, with due respect to clubs or festival parties featuring for example the popular figures like Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto, Steve Aoki to the Hardwell and Avicii are usually a spectacle of corporate sponsorship at hand with the bottle popping, cake throwing, confetti flying, picture taking decadence.

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The divide is stark and felt immediately between the two segments, as catching up with the west we tend to book one of the Top Ten names, pay them huge amounts of money, which immediately indicates that they are ‘it’. As the cash got discovered in commercial House music world-wide, in turn India seemingly followed trends from international waters causing promoters/sponsors to focus on commercial EDM, as clearly the volume is in the youth. The entire phenomena is concentrated with our young as the core receiver and consumer who find popular music to be cool or trendy. Mainstream dance music mostly depends on vocals rendered by fashionably dressed recording artists collaborating with names such as David Guetta, Deadmau5, Kaskade to drive their packaging. Back in the days, the other experimental EDM came from Frankie Knuckles, Danny Tenaglia, Paul Oakenfold to Sven Vath in the later part of the 80’s/90s and early 2000. Early sign post parties held at Twilo, Tunnel, the Palladium and of warehouse clubbing in Europe are raving yarn. In no way, does the latter scene have lesser numbers abroad, till date.

Many of our local acts such as Anish Sood, Ajit Pai, Lost Stories, Clement DSouza, Priyanjana are sale able artists, who pack places with the younger lot that like the sing along vibe in India. Chatting with Priyanjana brings out the facts that cannot be ignored when she quips- ”Each to their own. Having said that, I am at a club residency where we feature commercial artists as well as the Underground acts. Yet, the only thing that gives it up, is when the public themselves end up enjoying only one and not the latter. It’s frustrating, but I would like to be positive and hope to see a change in that attitude in the near future”.

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Our divide could be because, the club going audience here, does not have the numbers that sample a varied taste in music which is an essential to advocate, all kinds of genres. The early closing times at our clubs also play spoil-sport to building the Underground vibe. D-Nox (Germany) world renowned Techno Dj and label owner at Sprout Music say’s of our club scene-”It’s important for a good Techno party to go the distance of hours, only then can one feel any kind of hypnosis”. As was evident in his gigs in India, where short sets didn’t do any justice to the style of underground music he plays, which requires time to weave a story or create a vibe.

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Founder at Krunk; Sohail Arora is positive though- ” I believe that in the last 2 to 3 years, we’ve seen a positive change to the rise of venues, festivals in our country supporting underground music. It’s been the busiest season so far and I feel the line getting blurry as many of our events are being head-lined by good artists. Even though we have a long way to go in terms of numbers, it’s still a great place to be in”.
EDM in India is the trendiest acronym for Pop music and then one has the respected Grammys acknowledge the impact of EDM stars such as Skrillex, David Guetta and Deadmau5 and our core youth is sold to the prominent styles of today. Several niche parties in metros such as Mumbai and Bangalore do suggest though, of the novelty in mainstream to be fading a bit and a balance created with the underground wheel.
Artists such as Sanjay Dutta, Ankytrixx, Madhav Shorey, Arjun Vagale, Praveen Achary, Jehan Johar, Anastasia & Whosane, Vipul Angirish who play forward thinking sounds reflects the broader range, are in fact performing with greater regularity.
A corporate hoodlum by day with the flip side of a crackling Techno Dj by night- Helium Project banters: ”The introduction of Commercial House music has expanded the size of people listening to EDM, but then roots where the genre originated from, is completely lost. Dance music, with it’s commercial packaging inside of EDM, is responsible for the down trend of quality music, whether by skewed programming in festivals, and club gigs. However, a handful of Djs/Promoters are hanging on to the more purist vibe. It all depends on how many of us are ready to bring in quality music which doesn’t necessarily get the cash registers ringing”.

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Ash Roy, a member from the defunct yet most successful electronic bands of India, say’s- ‘‘The reason why Jalebee Cartel became a fantastic architect of the Indian underground scene was because we brought in the concept of Live Techno alongside the vibe of a proper rave, but as the band’s success grew and bookings started to pile up, our musical vision started to suffer, as it often happens the demand for a friendlier, more identifiable sounds came to our notice. Which was never our vision nor was it the direction that we wanted to go towards”.

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On to another Dj/Producer making waves in our underground and more eclectic sphere; Madhav Shorey has this to say- ” I think the rift is something that’s always been there. Some things just belong in certain places and that’s just how it is. Underground music over the last few years has made a huge following for itself over the globe and is at a nice place where young artists who are experimenting and unique are making a name for themselves and even tricking into the mainstream. A lot of genres are blending into each other and honestly, neither one would not survive if it weren’t for the other. We would not have an option and I think it’s important to understand that”.

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However, I remain confused at the future of dance music expansion in India, even though non formulaic music is getting a boost from companies like sLick!, Audiophile India and Unmute agency, a most heartening sign at best. There remains primarily, the attitude of a mass majority, who are still not ready to open up their minds to music with out Vocals. Also for the most part much of club etiquette is missing (more on that, later)..

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Cutting edge performers such as Dubfire, D-Nox, Guy J, Richie Hawtin to name some have lured in good turn outs in 2013 and most encouraging for the circuit, that followers with mature taste in music and an older lot of fans are coming out in support more often fantastic news. Whatever void in this scene remains, is slowly but surely enterprising itself also with nightclubs such as Blue Frog, Lap, Bardo leading the way with show-casing many styles other than just the main stream. I want to be part of a day, when we can have a groovy scenario much like Richie Hawtin’s artistic fruition, where from being a typical child of the underground has gone on to make his project ”Enter”, a big business fashionable curation at Space, Ibiza. Much as I rejoice seeing the good times an Armin Van Buuren concert gets for our clubbing youth, I’d like to feel the experience of a Sven Vath driven ”Cocoon” rave instigated with equal equanimity.
The future looks bright but clouded simultaneously. Until we inculcate a broader thought pattern which rises above all to do good, invite more variety with regularity, we in every way stand a chance to languish in a race, no one is winning. Where the habit of a verbal rave is met with an actual one. I think it’s going to take more than that, to be a force to reckon with…

Before I run off to stomp another yard, as a foot note… after witnessing several top names in both the commercial and underground scenes, I’d very much like to point out to our promoters, that I’d rather pay top bucks to the local Dj/Producers of India who do such a fabulous and a far better job night after night, than hear crap coming out from the speakers played by (atleast some of them) these famous international artists of the electronic music scene. Can someone hire me as a disco police? 😀

Cheerioo munkeys, gotta get my freak on….