The Indie music festival scene has skyrocketed over the past five years. Festivals have been responsible not only in providing local artistes a platform to perform but also attracting musicians like Mogwai, Steven Wilson, Ratatat, Mungo’s Hi-Fi, Fink, Flying Lotus, and Tycho to our shores. Giving businesses the perfect opportunity to merge with the creative world, the new age festivals have turned the cultural landscape on its head. None of which would have been possible without months & months of backbreaking work. StageCulture shines light on some key players behind the transcendent experiences that are music festivals.
Vijay Nair (Nh7 Weekender)
Vijay Nair, a voluntary college dropout believes in the power of experiential education. Post college, Nair started managing independent artistes – Vishal Dadlani & Raghu Dixit among the few. In 2002, He launched Only Much Louder, (OML) – a roster that included Pentagram & Pin Drop Violence. Nair followed it up with his record label- Counter Culture Records, and production house- Babble Fish. After years of producing records, pushing artistes, organizing gigs, and bringing bands to India, the festival scene beckoned and Nair hopped onto it with a bang!
In its first edition, Nh7 Weekender, 2011 was a small setup of mainly local talent, in Pune. As of 2016, it has spread to all the major cities of India, hosting ‘express’ festivals at smaller cities & gigs spread pan India. But why should manning ‘the Glastonbury of India’ be enough? OML under Nair, organize regular day festivals, live gigs, dance nights, and monthly festivals. Furthermore, breaking into the non-musical arena, OML has also organized The Weirdass Pajama Festival – a 3 day comedy festival, The Royal Turds – All India Bakchod’s tribute to Bollywood, The Coalition – a weekend of creative convergence, and U/A – a weekend arts festival for kids.
Shailendra Singh (Sunburn)
Since 2007, the Sunburn festival, brainchild of Shailendra Singh, (Joint MD at Percept Limited), has come a long way indeed. Singh is keenly in sync with the crowd he caters to. No surprises here, given his record breaking background in advertising. After all he is the man behind iconic campaigns like ‘Jai Ho’, ‘Bharat Nirman’, and ‘Coming Home to Siyarams’. Credited for bringing boxing into the mainstream with ‘Fight Night’, he is also the brains behind the animated ‘Hanuman’.
As diverse a portfolio as his, Singh has never lost sight of what he wishes to achieve with Sunburn, which is keeping India on the global music map! His game plan- to expand Sunburn from a 3 day festival in Goa to editions of the festival in Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Bangalore. To give the public music they want on a large scale, as well as represent international DJs like Tiesto & Afrojack. A head for business and a heart for bonhomie, Singh has made us proud by becoming the first Indian on EDM’S POWER 50 Global Rankings in 2013.
Sarah & Munbir Chawla (Magnetic Fields Festival)
The Magnetic Fields Festival, held at Alsisar Mahal, Rajasthan, is the epitome of what a music festival should be. It is for people who love music enough to travel for it. Sarah & Munbir Chawla surveyed the thriving electronic scene in London, and decided quite rightfully that India needed this, and moved ship. They joined hands with THOT, WeThePPL, Alsisar Mahal and Undercover Agent to create this magical festival. Responsible for the huge influx in Delhi’s local scene over the past five years, the Chawlas’ have worked tirelessly with venues & artistes to be able to work through and around India’s pestilential red-tape.
They launched Wild City- an online music magazine in 2011. Magnetic Fields was borne out of Wild City. They are also regional partners of Goethe-Institut’s Border Movement -which was built to facilitate an interaction between the electronic music scenes of South Asia & Germany, and Vital Agency – a booking agency for India’s electronic kids, and a full-fledged events management tent. Sarah & Munbir have double-handedly turned things around for the underground electronic scene of the country, and I for one want to write them a love letter for it.
Nikhil Chinapa (Supersonic)
Pioneer is a strong word, but not strong enough for Nikhil Chinapa. He’s donned multiple hats in the past – DJ, MTV-VJ, actor, anchor, fashion consultant – but none that fit him as snugly as festival organizer. Supersonic has been Candolim’s biggest party since its inception in 2013. It saw him organizing an eventually-successful music festival in 25 days – an impossible feat only he could make possible.
Nikhil also runs Submerge- who aim in revolutionizing the electronic scene in India by bringing in international artistes & providing a sound stage for the local kids. 2017 saw him bringing down Eric Prydz. India’s most familiar face of the electronic music scene, Chinapa isn’t resting anytime soon.
Bobby Hano & Anup Kutty (Ziro Festival of Music)
To start anything new requires a brick-full of courage, but to start something where (relatively) no one has gone before require steel genitalia. Ziro Festival took off in 2012, under the enthusiastic eyes of Bobby Hano & Anup Kutty (who alsoplays the guitar for Menwhopause). In 2011, Menwhopause were touring the North-East and ran into some trouble. Anup sat with gig promoter Bobby Hano overlooking the valleys of Ziro, and imagined the serenity of watching live music in the midst of these luscious laplands. Following through on their daydreams, they were delighted to meet no resistance from the state’s tourism board, and soon Ziro Festival was created.
The Ziro district of Arunachal Pradesh comes alive with the celebration of independent music, and attendees are treated to a shocking novelty – clean air. Ziro Festival brings together indigenous and countrywide talent and provides them a creatively congruent platform. The festival is the perfect example of what music and community can do when brought together.
Shoven Shah (Enchanted Valley Carnival)
A true marker for how live music has grown in India from the musty underground is the sheer scale of which festivals are being organized these days. Shoven Shah really turned it up on that front with the spectacle that is Enchanted Valley Carnival (EVC). Aamby Valley allows ravers at EVC to cool off/hype up with paintball, rock climbing, kayaking & rappelling. Let that sink in – rock climbing while Farhan Akhtar sings ‘Rock On’, providing the kind of cutesy moment you’ll be giggling to yourself about for a year. Oh yes, EVC is also the first festival to have a stage for Bollywood music.
Clearly one to keep his finger on the mass pulse, Shoven Shah is setting waves by founding a multi-genre festival at this scale. With a background in finance and a passion for music – trance in particular, Shoven traveled around the world attending various music festivals, and aimed to bring the festival culture to India – and how!