Home Chennai Making the Break

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    Top musical exports open up about  shedding the home-court advantage  to enter the big league.

    While cities like Kochi and Bengaluru have lost count of regional bands that regularly play outside the state, Chennai can only boast a handful. Four, to be exact. Junkyard Groove, Skrat, The F16s and Sapta. “Why can’t our bands break into North India? Sometimes it’s because metros already have a thriving scene with vibrant and competitive local bands. Other factors include venues that have budgetary restrictions (flights/accommodation for a five-piece band) and the insistence of corporate sponsors on using guaranteed crowd-pullers,” explains Roy Dipankar, who’s worked for a decade within the independent music industry and is currently managing content at IndiEarth. But all hope is not lost. We speak to the four trailblazing outfits—who have ventured beyond the annual club gig at Bengaluru—to gain deeper insight into the city’s live music scene along with tips for aspiring bands.

    Skrat
    Unlike most city bands that went national, this trio has never won a ‘battle of the bands’ contest. “True, it’s not easy to break out. We aren’t musical geniuses but Skrat is a fun rock ‘n’ roll songwriting-centred outfit. One thing we always do is push against what the crowds want and never get pigeonholed,” says vocalist Sriram TT, adding that he’s working on their upcoming 10-track album, Bison, while finishing their 2016 winter tour, with more gigs lined up in Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Mangalore. Details: facebook.com/Skrattheband

    Tip: Constantly reinvent yourselves. We took to YouTube, to do something no other city band had done circa 2012: record five original songs live, within a shed. That caught the attention of venue/festival managers everywhere  —Sriram T T

    Sapta
    This two-piece act employs a combination of heavy percussion and electronic synthesisers, essentially nullifying the need for a guitarist. Having worked in Dubai/Paris/San Francisco’s music industry, it’s easy to see why Marti Bharath has been able to infuse Western aural aesthetics into Indian electronic soundscapes.“I’m simultaneously working on three brand-new Sapta albums slated for a 2017 release. We also have a seven-minute, mini-documentary on the band in the works,” shares the frontman, who’s been booked to perform at  all editions of the 2016 NH7 Weekender.
    Details: facebook.com/saptamusic

    Tip:
    To break the mould and cross borders, bands should create a buzz and carve out their own niche sound, to stand apart from the rest
    —Marti Bharath

    Junkyard Groove
    Unapologetic. It’s the perfect word to describe Junkyard Groove’s full throttle rock ‘n’ roll vibe. With singer-songwriter Ameeth Thomas at its helm, this 11-year-old ensemble is currently on a multi-city tour for their new EP+&-. “What gets us bookings across the nation and abroad? Our urge to entertain people and constantly create meaningful songs that will outdo our previous hit,” explains Thomas, adding that the band is looking at dates for gigs in Dubai and Sri Lanka. Details: facebook.com/junkyardgroove

    tip:
    Many of the newer city acts are technically sound, create amazing riffs and their vocalists always hit the right pitch. But they always write nonsensical lyrics for their tracks. Sharpen your songwriting skills, to create an audience connect
    — Ameeth Thomas

    The F16s
    No other indie band in the country has received a 16-city tour to promote their debut album. From performing at backyard parties in New York (after winning the Road to Converse contest) to getting booked to play at almost every major music festival in the country, this Chennai-based quintet has done it all. “The F16s are constantly evolving. That’s what sets us apart. Now we’re working on a new album—which is definitely more mellow and synth-popish when compared to grunge rock vibe of the previous album Triggerpunkte,” shares keyboardist Harshan R.
    Details: facebook.com/thef16s

    Tip: Creating traction with your music isn’t the end game. Your social media plan should be on point. To be remembered, you have to keep reminding people
    —Harshan R

    —Anoop Menon

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