What does it take to become a musician? IndiEarth XChange breaks it down


In this year’s IndiEarth XChange, performances took a backseat as musicians navigated through the technical know-how of music production

For the past seven years, IndiEarth XChange was an event that Chennai’s indie music lovers would look forward to, for their annual dose of musical talent from Reunion Island, Germany, France and around the world. Often, it also proved to be an education in music from different parts of the country. This year, however, things were different, and deliberately so. The festival was stripped to its bare basics. The performance line-up, the multiple stages, the film screenings, were all put on hold — focus was solely on those making fresh music, and those guiding them.

“You can’t have the same thing the same way all the time, and seven years is a long time. So I am working on a new format and I am not going to tell you what it is yet,” said festival director Sonya Mazumdar with a laugh. For now, the two-day event held last weekend toned down the frills and focussed on its raison d’etre: finding fresh independent talent and giving them a platform, not only for performance but also for track recording. Which is why the conversation — across various sessions held both at composer AR Rahman’s music institute KM Music Conservatory in Arumbakkam and his professional studio YM Studios in Red Hills — was more focussed. From the dos and don’ts of applying to music festivals and tying up with venues, to the larger, loftier questions of navigating industry pitfalls and understanding the future of music itself.

The main event, however, was centred around seven musical acts selected by the organisers from a stream of candidates. Each got to record one song for the Indie100 album, and in the process received mentorship and gained technical know-how from within the recording room, an experience that usually requires years of experience and a large budget. Once each of these talents took to stage, however, it was clear that they deserved this leg-up.

The Owl Monk Collective, for instance, played ‘Clarity’, a dreamy ballad of guitar strings and rainy day memories. The band made its début performance earlier this year. The SyZyGy, on the other hand, is quite a few gigs old and has a performance at Covelong Point Surf, Music & Yoga Festival in its kitty. They performed a song that they plan to make the sixth track of their upcoming EP. Tabby & Sanjai, a duet act featuring Tabitha Kagoo and Sanjai Shine, performed ‘Easy’, a sad, soft, lilting number comprising entirely of two voices, a guitar and some harmony. They were followed by Tamil rock band The Eclipse, that played an upbeat, cajone-dominated number ‘Vadi Vadi’. Their sound was a far cry from that of Joint By The Sea, a three-piece band whose song ‘Lucid Dream’ showed off some beautiful vocal range.

The band Alerte was again different, starting off on a high tempo reminiscent of old Westerns before settling into a catchy slow march with their track ‘Threat’. Its EP almost ready, Alerte will be going on a pan-India launch tour in January.

Out Of The Blue brought sarod into the limelight, combining its sound with that of the drums and the piano, in a Hindi song set to raga Charukesi. The song struck a chord with the rockheads, soul singers and mentors alike — clearly, neither language nor genre form barriers at IndiEarth.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 6:26:33 AM |

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