Features

Indie India: Exploring Desi Independent Music

A look into the indie music scene with insights from The Local Train, Whale in the Pond, and Siddhant Sharma.

The Indie music scene has exploded in India and desi bands with alternate and new sounds are finding an audience in India. There is a misconception that anything that is not Bollywood or mainstream is Indie music.

What is Indie Music?

Indie or independent music is created and produced independently without commercial record labels or their subsidiaries by artists who autonomously record and publish their work.

How Does One Break Into The Indie Music Scene?

As Ramit Mehra, bass guitarist and backing vocals for The Local Train points out that there really isn’t an established way.

None of us were trying to get into the indie rock scene, we were just trying to make music. We were lucky that we did see a lot of bands performing, there were festivals happening like the Great Indian Rock Festival that we used to come for all the way from Chandigarh to see.

How we got into it was how I think everybody got into it, which was straightaway just dived right into it you know without knowing what to do or how to do it and I guess that’s what it means to be indie, you are figuring everything out on the way, along the way and very grateful for everybody who has come before us, we have learnt from their mistakes and we got inspired by the struggles they went through in their time.

Ramit Mehra, The Local Train

He goes on to talk about how the internet is a tool that has helped Indie artists out a lot in many ways.

The Internet has such a major role to play because more and more people are listening to such varied sounds, they are getting exposed to music from all over the world and they want to make such music. The internet is helping them make the music, learn the skills of how to make the music, put the music out online, reach out to a lot more people so social media really helps you do that, it helps you connect to your audiences directly.

Ramit Mehra, The Local Train

He also credits a certain openness that has come to the fore amongst Indians in realizing that Alternative music and rock music doesn’t just have to be in English which allows artists to create art in their regional languages.

An important part for anyone’s artistic process is the freedom to create without any restrictions of public appeal.

They put out what they want to create, they genuinely created what they wanted to without thinking about what the mass wants. Because when you stop thinking about what the mass wants is when you will voice your own opinions and you will get to know whether people like your sound or not. Imagine if Pink Floyd wanted to play just what Black Sabbath plays or just what Led Zeppelin played.

Siddhant Sharma, Winner, The Stage 3

Indie music does still faces several challenges as Siddhant Sharma points out in comparison to Bollywood and its marketing machinery.

The promotion game and everything works out in their favour (Bollywood). Bollywood is maybe not a competition but on a parallel line, we are all making music. Bollywood has the upper hand with the entire flow of money, which is where independent artists lose out.

Siddhant Sharma

For upcoming independent artists, this is a problem which is very relevant. Sourjyo Sinha, a member of Whale in the Pond, a surreal indie dream folk band from West Bengal says:

It’s still quite difficult for a truly indie unsigned band like us to spread our music. We’ve learnt a few promotional tactics here and there looking at the scene around us, of course occasionally helped by getting a leg up from generous older and more popular artists. But at the end of the day, even in the age of social media, money is the ultimate promo tool.

Sourjyo Sinha, Whale in the Pond

The growth of Indie music has come out as a way for artists to express their music without the worry of corporate clutches and it provides an avenue to musicians to pursue their life goal. It is truly exciting to see how it develops and how many greater artists we get. Independent artists have the capability to inspire other musicians to reach for their dreams.

There are so many bands that preceded us that really have helped us understand that maybe it’s possible for me to do what I want to do as a living and as a passion project. That I can grow and become a better musician in this country which is not something you think about when you are in school, these are not avenues that we knew even existed and we are grateful for that.

Ramit Mehra, The Local Train

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives

Prabhanu Kumar Das

prabhanuk@dubeat.com

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Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history.Freedom to Express.