Indian electronic music culture is becoming more conscious, inclusive and innovative
Budweiser hosted BudX, India’s first Electronic Music Lab in New Delhi last week. With panel discussions, movie screenings, masterclasses, Boiler Room gigs and more, the event was a great opportunity to get a glimpse into the future of electronic music in India. We did a little trendspotting and tried to pinpoint some of the emerging waves in this culture. While more and more regional artistes are being promoted, the scene is becoming more conscious of inclusivity in terms of gender, class and sexuality. As the festival market gets saturated with similar line-ups and venues, the inevitable shift towards smaller platforms and venues seems to be the next step. All this, along with cutting-edge technology and newer genres, shows that we are on the cusp of shaping a new identity of Indian music.
One for all
Indian music culture is trying to be more conscious of its people and the diversity in this country — a more balanced gender ratio and artistes from different social classes. Faith Gonsalves is the founder of Mumbai-based Music Basti who is taking this very seriously. “We at Music Basti, take children from government schools or low-income backgrounds and train them in music.” The children from Music Basti also performed at NH7 Weekender a few years ago.
Joy Singh, the owner of the lounge Raasta in New Delhi has trained his staff to be more open to any kind of audiences visiting the place and treating them all the same. The panel he was on recalled an incident when fans of the rapper Divine, who were from the slums, were not allowed to enter a certain venue because of the way they dress.
UK-based Asian DJ Kindness addressed gender and queer issues in electronic music. “It is great that there is a platform like BudX to talk about these issues, even though people don’t talk about it openly.” The artiste spoke about how the gender ratios are skewed even in the music industry and how media always promotes only a select few artistes, but it is something that needs to be worked on.
Vidhi Kundan Jain, who represented The Humming Tree, says that they are building a safe space for anyone to enjoy music, “We at The Humming Tree are very clear about our stance on women’s safety. Anytime anyone comes up and tells us that they are being misbehaved with, we take strict action.” The venue also hosts events on women’s safety and inclusivity.
Musician Tejas Nair, who plays downtempo as Spryk, was on the panel for discussing the future of music experiences and consumption. What we picked from the discussion was the use of augmented reality and virtual reality creeping into the live music experience. “Cryptocurrency might also be incorporated into the selling and marketing of music, such as the DJ Gramatik who launched his own cryptocurrency,” he says, adding, “But what we need to keep in mind in India is that the audience needs to have access to these technologies before we as artistes implement it in our acts.”
India currently is expecting a boom in music festivals with over 15 festivals happening in the last few months of this year. But as the market gets saturated, smaller venues or gigs such as a Boiler Rooms, or Reproduce Listening Rooms seem to be the next big trend. Steven Appleyard, the founder of Boiler Room, says, “We might see a crash in the festival market so the next trend would be targeted smaller and direct engagement with the audience. This will also build a more sustainable relationship with the listeners.”An event like BudX by a brand such as Budweiser is proof that brands are focussing on more boutique festivals. “We want to shape the youth culture,” says Vineet Sharma, associate marketing director at AB inBev, the owners of Budweiser. “The scene is booming, there are young artistes who want to be on stage and we are here to give them the platform.” he adds about the event.
The next big genre
Since dubstep took off in the early 2000s, there has not been a definite new genre. Steven Appleyard says, “Genre wise a new form of music should be emerging. We have seen protest music emerge from turmoiled political times and we are certainly in the midst of one right now. Whether it be jazz, reggae or hip-hop and punk, it was always born out of protest. So although I don’t see it right now, something will definitely happen.” He adds that right now global music is very much inspired by African or black culture, be it hip-hop or R&B, but hopes to see a strong Asian influence to international music in the future. Maybe India, with its abundance of culture and styles of music, could be the next big influence.