City and Space: Music Edition | In conversation with Vishwam Raghunandan
The Multilogue Collective in collaboration with House Concert India is working on a research narrative based around 'City and Space'. For the initial story, we wanted to cover the music scene in different cities and ask a few questions to musicians, organizers, and supporters of original music in India.
We were glad to have a conversation with Vishwam Raghunandan who is a Music producer (producing music for TVC's and short films), Drummer/ session artist with multiple acts and an avid gig-goer (try and go to as many gigs as possible) and a teaching artist with a non profit( Music Basti). He is based out of Delhi, originally from Giridih,Jharkhand.
As an artist/musician/individual, what are your views on the ever-changing scenario for live gigs/concerts within the city and how performance spaces in your city have evolved for different kinds of music?
"I wouldn't go ahead and say that the city has a lot of spaces where people can perform without constraints i.e every venue has their own identity of what kind of music is played there which in turn does not provide for ample opportunities for everyone. the independent scene has found ways around it in using the commercial/private spaces that can be used for DIY/Independent gigs but with it comes to the very difficult task of sustaining the independent music industry. The commercial/Pop/Film music-centric music has a lot more venues in commercial spaces to go ahead and play their music in the city though."
Place-making capitalizes on a local community's assets, inspiration, and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people's health, happiness, and well being.
What are your views/suggestions on the idea of music (any genre/any kind of artist - gigs/festival etc) as a place-making tool, to activate the public life and create a sense of community within a city?
" Art in any form is a very important community builder but since music comes in so many various forms it only ends up building its own small communities. Its very rare for me to see the party goer dance music scene just drop by/ walk in to band gig and the live music scene and vice versa unless its a music festival which does not happen quite often in the country or in the city. I do tend to meet people who I see at both places but its also massively segregated. the Bollywood/commercial music crowd is completely segregated from the independent industry and that is a completely different scene altogether. Delhi also happens to be very 'Party-centric' so I wouldn't also agree to the fact that most people who attend gigs are there for the sole purpose of listening to the music. Its quite often just a ‘humty-dumpty’ mid-week party scene that the city offers up, but the live music scene does get a lot of people from the get-go of the evening to be active listeners."
Cities start getting a tag of the kind of 'music scene' it has established over the years or is now adapting to. How would you define the music identity of your city? (You may talk about specific genres or in general.)
"I would say that every city has all the different types of scenes going around and as a performative culture its very difficult to put tags on all of them, but Delhi has a massive Dance music culture of all sorts in one side of the town, there is the other side of town which is a lot more commercial music infused in its surroundings and its venues. the Independent hip hop music scene is also building in the city but that is building throughout the world and not just Delhi or India. Being a part of a huge music scene also means that the live music culture/ Bands are not totally lost. Personally, they aren't happening as much as I would like to as venues have their own ideas of what music sell/ how a certain kind of music sells. but the Fact that its totally not dead and the fact that bands are constantly recording and releasing their music means that it cant be dead and whatever opportunities come along are not passed on."
"Bands also tend to do a lot more DIY/Independent events in the spaces around town that we have and use the commercial spaces and small theatres that the city has for their showcases and performances but it's very difficult to organise and sustain on a very regular basis. The rise of intimate/house sessions means Singer-songwriters/solo artist also get opportunities. one only needs to look around hard for what they want to listen to. Are there an ample amount of opportunities for independent artists in the city to perform and showcase their act: NO, but all I can do is hope that it is growing and more and more venues will embrace the live music culture while not giving a back seat to the other different forms of music that already work and have grown. Through the past 5-6 years of me being in the city there have been many different waves of music and culture that have come but now its all collided and there is only space for some and not for all because of a dearth of good safe spaces of expression."
Any organisations you would like to mention which are creating this spark of the community through alternative experiences?
"I think ‘Boxout.fm’ and ‘Wildcity’ have done a lot for the dance music/electronic music culture for the city. The outpour of artist who performs such music is a testament to the work they have done, Azaadi records have/are doing their fair share for the hip hop community, ‘Rawlive/Skillbox’ happen to do as much for the live music culture, there are ‘Sofar Sessions’ and a lot of other house gigs for all kinds of musicians in a very intimate space kind of a setting. There are also all the DIY gigs that bands themselves host or the venues host which provide some albeit less but some opportunities for the acts performing. It’s all, hopefully, coming together from different sides to become a huge big performance space created in the city."
We would like to thank Vishwam for being a part of this narrative and for being a wonderful individual in the music fraternity while he represents his city, Delhi.