GoMAD makes a return to the music festival stage 

As electronic music festivals become the new rage about town, GoMAD seeks to redefine the live music scene with its third edition and Sanjit George and Nawabb Abdulla tell us how

Rebecca Vargese Published :  22nd January 2018 02:59 PM   |   Published :   |  22nd January 2018 02:59 PM


The GoMAD festival, a commune for artistes and musicians, was a multi-genre live music festival initiated by Sanjith George, Nawabb Abdulla, Biju Thomas and Binu Thomas of UrbanOwl Entertainment in 2012 at the Fernhills Palace, a time when EDM festivals were far and few. Following its second edition in 2013 featuring over 50 artistes, GoMAD which promised to usher in a Woodstockian vibe in India went noticeably missing from music festival calendars.

Regrouping after a hiatus of four years in 2018, the third edition of GoMAD’s two-day camping festival will see a roster of 26 indie music acts set up against the lush green backdrop of The Nilgiris and the Fernhills Royale Palace. “GoMAD was one of the first music festivals in India to bring a concept of camping under the stars. At the inception, there were only a handful of festivals, but very soon the frenzy caught up. So we stepped back and took cautious measures in order not to lose out on the competition,” explains Nawabb Abdulla, COO & co-owner, UrbanOwl Entertainment.

We talk to festival director Sanjit George and COO Nawabb Abdulla on their hiatus, the current indie music scene and what to expect from GoMAD in 2018

Sanjit George, Festival Director

GoMAD is a multi-genre festival. How important do you think it is to say a nu-metal or rock band playing alongside a reggae or jazz band?

It is essential for music festivals to be as diverse in its offerings as to what the audiences want to hear. Our core idea is to ensure that most genres are covered as a part of the GoMAD Festival programming and that there is something to enagage everybody’s tastes. Though audiences are bound to make lists of their favourite acts, and frantically rush from stage to stage to catch them live; the fans experience many unexpected turns when genre boundaries or perceptions collapse and they allow their ears to be the festival map. GoMAD festival can be that journey where you discover your new favourite artist or sound.

What do you think is the future of indie music in the country is?

Today’s independent scene in India shows much promise. With the advent of tools on Social media and the power of Internet; artists are able to promote themselves, market their music and related content across a wider reach of audience. Moreover, the birth of many festivals and venues across the country supporting the live music scene has led to the rise of many innovative collaborations and bands. The support from the music community, fitting frameworks and audiences coming in huge numbers to watch artists live; all of this definitely leads up to foster the growth of emerging artists, festivals and the Indie Music Scene in India.

 How did you put together the roster of artists that you have at GoMAD this year?

GoMad Festival has been the festival for artists and bands. More prominence is given to the festival being a pure celebration of art rather than headlining names. Keeping in mind the 2-day format for 2018 and 26 slots to program, we took care to ensure most genres are covered. Artists get a fair chance and we try to bring together the best of talent – big or small. To promote upcoming talent and original music, we have associations with prominent college festivals to provide an opportunity for the winner to feature in our lineup along with popular names. Most importantly, we’ve been overwhelmed by the support we are receiving from artists themselves.

There are also some workshops that will be on alongside the music fest. What besides the music are you most excited about?

As a part of the format there will be a few workshops for interested people to hone certain skills across music, art, dance, environmental practices, etc. Besides the interestingly diverse line up and the music, we’re really excited about a few things like the camping experience in the woods, being lost in nature and meeting lots of people.

 Nawabb Abdulla, COO & Owner, UrbanOwl Entertainment Pvt. Ltd

 GoMAD was noticeable missing in music festival calendars since 2013?

GoMAD was one of first festivals in India to bring a concept of taking a break from the city-life, being tucked away in nature’s lap and camping under the stars (in addition to bringing an immersive music experience). The Media very soon touted ‘goMAD bringing in a Woodstockian vibe and feel in India’, where people at every turn discovered talented artists they hadn’t witnessed before. At the inception of GoMAD, there were only a handful of festivals in the country. Very soon the festival frenzy caught up with many more commercial festivals coming up and being supported by brands. Having done 2 massive editions featuring 100+ artists at each one, it would’ve been difficult to comeback without support or hand holding keeping our concept in mind. So we stepped back and took cautious measures in order to not lose out on competition. Now we believe it’s time to be back in the same capacity, supporting emerging talent and we are excited about what the future brings for us.

 How much do you think the music festival scene has changed since 2013?

There has been a whirlwind of shifts since 2013. One thing is the growth and popularity of  EDM Festivals with massive productions and huge headlining names, which in a way has impacted the sustenance of many Live Music Festivals. Also, the commercialisation of festivals has affected the way we watch and enjoy live music. Where Festivals were once were led by just promoting great music talents; festival organizers now flaunt any mainstream A-List names to sell tickets. GoMAD Festival has stayed true to present music as not just an audio stimulation, but a lifestyle giving fans a chance to ‘live the live scene’.

 Will there be a GoMAD in 2019? 

Interesting Question. We are really looking forward to taking this one step at a time kicking off with the 2018 edition. The only thing we can say is that we would definitely be out there a lot more with interesting collaborations and innovative experiences, continuing to supporting the live music scene.