The Burgeoning Electronic Music & The City Of Pearls
It may not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of electronic music in India but Hyderabad shows a lot of promise in becoming the country’s next hub.
A stunning city, with a rich mix of history, architecture and IT industry, Hyderabad turned out to be more than just old world charm and new-age technology when I heard about an electronic dance music event called Reset that was taking place in the outskirts. I quickly discovered that the city has a live and kicking electronic music scene which has been growing over the last 6 years.
Mostly catering to techno and house enthusiasts, Reset is spread across different cities in India and held its second edition in Hyderabad this November. Says Dev Bhatia of UnMute who is one of the organisers, “We (myself and few of the UnMute DJs) visited the Leonia Convention Centre back in Dec 2013 for the City Of M Festival and noticed the venue was purpose-built for concerts, among other things. It was a giant acoustically treated warehouse with in-built Funktion-One sound. I guess we were crazy enough to explore the possibility of the first Reset there.”
RESET by Ronnie Willis
According to Dev, Hyderabad has a fast growing electronic music market. “It’s getting there faster than expected for sure. Hyderabad, among a few other cities has generally been on the upswing over the last few years when it comes to dance music. For starters, since the first Reset (March 2014) we’ve had a techno gig there every weekend. Delhi on the other hand, is taking a step back. A large part of the audience in Delhi are more into mainstream/Bollywood events compared to a few years ago.” With a steady 1200 plus people at the event, Dev points out their leap in production quality for the second edition.
Arjun Vagale, UnMute co-founder and DJ/producer echoes Dev’s thoughts by taking note of how Hyderabad one of the cities included as a part of an artist’s touring schedule. He believes the city is yearning for underground sounds: “I’ve been playing in Hyderabad for many years and the scene just exploded in that city. I remember how about 5-6 years ago, one struggled to actually play at proper venues but it has changed thanks to the amazing crowd and the home grown DJs from the city.”
While people from outside the city see it as a growing market, the crew in the city working within its limitations are pushing the boundaries for bigger changes. Balusubramanyam aka Dakta Dub, a Hyderabad based DJ/promoter who runs an independent radio station called Monkey Radio is well-known in the city for his events known as Bass Sanskriti. Monkey Radio falls under the bigger umbrella of the Monkey Foundation that organises community based non-profit events: “I have been doing events since 2008 and feel that venues play a big role in bringing new sounds to people. 2010 to 2012 weren’t as productive for events because of the socio-political situation in Hyderabad. We were doing monthly and sometimes bi-monthly events and had a year of some amazing gigs with artists including Dimm Summer from High Chai Recordings (New York) and Apache Indian to name a few. We began with zero audience and now have people writing to us on a regular basis showing support. What we lack is support from venues that are still driven by Bollywood and house music. This is mainly because most DJs who come here, play these genres. People of course take what they are offered,” says Dakta Dub.
He is looking forward to two of their most important events this year. “Sound System En Masse which is being held on January 25th, is an event targeted mainly towards offering school kids a reggae music on vinyl listening experience. This event is community based, so we tag it under Monkey Foundation. The artists performing at this event are Monkey Sound System (Dakta Dub, Irie Boy (Raj Verma), Mr.Nobody, Shivacult,) Reggae Rajahs, Delhi Sultanate, Begum X, King Jassim, Word Sound Power. I think it will be a good experience for the younger generation, who don’t have many options other than just listening to film music on their TV sets. The gig on January 26th will be Monkey Radio India’s yearly event which we have been doing for the last five years at the Community Centre close to the Monkey Radio Headquarters,” he explains.
While techno and house might be the current flavour that venue owners are investing in, Piyush Bhatnagar aka Sound Avtar, who plays predominantly dubstep and drum and bass, loves performing in this city. “I definitely feel there is a bigger audience in Hyderabad for house and techno than bass, in general. Dub/dubstep/dnb are certainly being followed too but only works at smaller venues and I feel the frequency of such gigs in the city are relatively less,” he remarks adding that events like Reset have really helped push the demand for electronic music more.
Raghav ‘Diggy’ Dang of the Reggae Rajahs gives props to the Dakta Dub and crew for working on creating a space for bass sounds. “People like Dakta Dub, and Monkey Radio crew are pushing these sounds, promoting these parties, and creating a scene. They are dedicated to their art, with a solid sense of commitment. I feel Hyderabad could even spearhead the movement in dub/bass/soundsystem culture in years to come. It may not have as many young students as a place like Bangalore or Pune, but there is demand for music there.” he says.”
SHIRE ROOTS, RUDY ROOTS SELEKTA ,DAKTA DUB
UK based producer Nuphlo who performed in the city this year, talks about his positive experience while also pointing out the lack of support from the government. “I had only DJd in Mumbai clubs (blueFROG, Zenzi and The Den) so playing in Hyderabad was a refreshing change. In many ways the Mumbai audience is similar to London; there are many musical analysts within the crowd. I would say 50% are there to cut loose and allow the DJ to take them on a journey. The other 50% are there to critique which is fine, because it keeps DJs on their toes… Going to Hyderabad was a fantastic experience. The first thing that struck me was that the city didn’t have that coastal feel. It was mountainous, dry and earthy…
The venue was unlike anything I had ever seen, beautiful was an understatement. We were high on top of a mountain overlooking a picturesque lake and cityscape. Fire torches illuminated the balcony area. This was a major element only Hyderabad could provide. Two or three tunes into the mix people understood the vibe. Hyderabad people I noticed have an open mind to new and different approaches to club music. The end of the night was unfortunately abruptly shut down by the police, this was a factor my host (the amazing Dakta Dub) warned me about as a potential circumstance. Nevertheless the crowd were asking me to play one more tune. After the night had ended, it was a great opportunity to converse with the audience. Hyderabad people I noticed were extremely polite and evoked positivity when talking. It is a night I will always remember.”
Besides issues including early deadlines and lack of venue support in some cases, the city seems to be a favourite among electronic music producers and DJs. In a nutshell it could well be the next party city.
written by Shri K