‘Upping the ante’: Circle of Love curator on this year's edition of Chennai's indie music fest

Circle of Love festival director DJ Manny shares how Chennai can become ground zero for promoting India’s independent artistes
A glimpse from the previous edition of the  Circle of Love festiva
A glimpse from the previous edition of the Circle of Love festiva

It’s that time of the year again when Chennai celebrates the independent artistes of the country unabashedly. The Circle of Love (CoL) festival is finally returning to the city with its second edition and indie music is set to thrive again with the rhythms and beats produced by some talented names. In a conversation with festival and Circle of Love director Manoj Mohan aka DJ Manny. Excerpts:

CoL is finally back, what is on offer this year?
We’ve scaled up everything! We had two stages in the last edition and this year, we have three stages. We had over 15-20 artistes last year, we have over 30 this year. More of everything, essentially.

Also Read: Indie on the rise: Performing artistes at the Circle of Love festival 2023 tell us what to expect

We understand this must have been an emotionally charged journey organising this year’s edition. Please walk us through the journey.
Circle of Love in its entirety is essentially the vision of our late founder, Sameer Sethi. And we were diligently working towards this with him, all of last year. So, we wanted to scale this up and do a bigger show, which was always in the works. We were planning this to the teeth. Also, everyone involved with the CoL are performing musicians. So we understand the nuances of an event like this. We decided to come together and do something which would do justice to his vision as well.

How has this edition upheld the vision of supporting indie artistes?
Chennai in general does not have a large infrastructure for independent artistes. So the whole idea behind Circle of Love when we started off two years ago, and Sameer’s vision, was to create exactly that — to create these platforms to be able to showcase independent musicians the way we really feel they deserve to be showcased — in big formats and festivals. What we had done in the last edition was still a club version of what we wanted to do. With this edition, we’re doing a large-scale gathering. To up the ante, we’ve created so many platforms. The festival is just the culmination of everything that we do throughout the year. We’ve done releases with multiple artistes, and events with many acts, and we also brought in multiple acts that typically don’t come to Chennai. And now we’ve created a community that’s much larger than when we started out.

Being one of the few well-known festivals in Chennai, how do you think the city can become ground zero for more initiatives promoting indie music?
We’re always listening to the community. I think that’s something that does not happen often enough with the venues and promoters here in general. We’re very clued in and inclusive in what we do, and we also understand that there is a market here. There is also a greater interest now for independent acts in the Chennai circuit. So there are people who are starved for this kind of performance and musicians. We’re not just showcasing, we’re also creating independent content as much as we can. I think we have successfully managed to make indie music more prominent. This effort has also become commercially viable for venues.

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Do walk us through the idea behind the nomenclature of this festival.
Circle of Love is not just a festival, it's several things. We are, essentially, a music community. Festival is one of the things that we do – we’re also a record label that releases music throughout the year among many other things. Sammer had come up with this name. He was very passionate about this whole thing, and he filled this entire scene with love.  We’re a very inclusive festival. That's the idea. There is no room for discrimination of any kind. We're not like a one-dimensional, generic music festival. We have something for everyone. Hence Circle of Love is a very fitting name.

What else to expect!

  • Pop-ups
  • Live mural art by artistes from the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • K-Pop themed performance
  • Local artisans market selling various handcrafted products by Chennai artistes.
  • A custom sneaker brand is also coming in!

Also Read: Here's how independent artistes from the east are charting newer ways to be heard 

Rs. 999 onwards. Tickets available online.
July 22, 11 am onwards. At Green Meadows, ECR.

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