When India Music Week was held for the first time last year in Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai, it joined a consistently growing list of music festivals in the country. Over 40 artistes — many of the most popular Indian musicians on the circuit and a handful of international ones — played at various venues in the three cities. Playing to an audience that is becoming increasingly appreciative of talent in the Indian indie music circuit, most of these gigs were very well-received.
On November 21, its second edition will kick off. As in the first edition, gigs will be held in some of the most popular clubs and bars in Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai over the five days of the festival. The one aspect of the event that set it apart from most other festivals in the country will be retained — proceedings will begin with a two-day conference in Delhi comprising panel discussions and workshops that are open to the public. “The idea is to generate a unique experience in a language people can understand,” says Vibhu Sharma, festival coordinator, on the purpose of holding these discussions and workshops.
Some of the best known names from the music industry in India will conduct and be part of the panel discussions that will be held on November 21 and 22 at Blue Frog in Delhi. They will, however, also be accompanied by a number of participants from around the world. “This gives you the opportunity to meet people you would otherwise only hear about,” says Anup Kutty of the Delhi-based band Menwhopause. Jishnu Dasgupta of the Bengaluru-based band Swarathma, who will feature as a panelist this year, believes the conference is an important aspect of the festival. “It’s one factor that has been overlooked in the last few years,” he says, adding, “It helps foster new ideas and creates a scene where people can learn from each other.”
Apart from Kutty and Dasgupta, panelists for the various discussions include Stefan Kaye of The Ska Vengers; manager and festival director Dhruv Jagasia; Keshav Dhar of Skyharbor fame; singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Sidd Coutto; and musician Randolph Correira. Some of the international names to feature on the panel include Norwegian musician Anders Odden; Norway-based artiste manager Christopher Wareing; French-born Emmanuelle De Decker, who was the head of live programming at Blue Frog for the last five years; and Solveig Korum Manga, head of international projects in Concerts Norway, who leads the cooperation between Concerts Norway and organisations connected to music culture in India.
Among the various topics of discussion over the two days are: ‘The growth of festivals in India’, ‘Music and media’, ‘Shaping the artiste’s career’, ‘Dead room: The aesthetics of production’ and ‘New initiatives in the music industry in India’. “The idea is to try and explore all the main topics related to the music business and also the most interesting in the Indian music industry at the moment,” says Emmanuelle de Decker, conference head for the festival.”
For the 20 gigs lined up in Bengaluru and 10 each in Mumbai and Delhi, more than 50 artistes from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Norway, Australia, France and Sri Lanka will participate.
Among the artistes are favourites such as Soulmate, Dualist Inquiry, Parikrama, Vir Das’ Alien Chutney, Bombay Bassment, Blot!, DJ Nucleya, Thermal and a Quarter and Midival Punditz. The international names include Norwegian electronic duo Lemaitre, German DJ Mother Perera, French reggae act Dub Inc., Australian musician Aurora Jane and Canadian pop act Picture the Ocean. Notably, all the musicians that feature in the line-up are independent musicians.
“Our focus is on indie musicians, so we have no big label musicians playing,” says Sharma.