Unboxing The Future: A Nosedive Into The Vision Of India’s First Online Community Radio
Image credit: Zacharie Rabehi
“I remember the day Mo told me about his idea to start an online community radio. We couldn’t stop thinking or talking about it. At that point, we knew that there was no turning back” Sahej Bakshi.
When music entrepreneur Mohammed Abood (DJ MoCity) roped in his friend Sahej Bakshi (Dualist Inquiry) to collaborate on an idea, it gave birth to India’s first independent online community radio station, boxout.fm. boxout has smoothly percolated into the Indian soils as the hub to hear fresh tunes. All day, every day.
Image credit: Courtesy of ThePlug.News
Just over two months old, it had a rather swanky launch with UK artist Romare bringing the house down. “Every single minute with Romare in India was extra special and filled with so many memorable moments,” says MoCity. Romare also played an impromptu set at boxout HQ mixing old Bollywood vinyl records he picked up in Chandni Chowk.
Roughly twelve hours of original programming per day is comprised of an eclectic mix of twenty-five odd shows hosted by DJs and musicians either from the headquarters in Delhi, or at venues in different cities. From Minority Report hosted by Uday Kapur who profiles minority artists across the world, to the vinyl-only Waxout which features straight up DJ sets and laid-back selections; boxout shows are a tasteful goulash of genres and styles. With a monthly show from Sri Lankan electronic label Jambutek called Jambucast, they have also recorded four live episodes in Colombo as a part of boxout in Transit.
But running an online radio station is no piece of cake. On any given day you will find DJ MoCity, Rohan Kale and Siddarth Mehra taking care of programming, coordination, web development and content creation; while Sahej Bakshi handles video production and company outreach, and Manaal Oomerbhoy manages social media. This well-knit family extends to a crew of designers, musicians, producers, filmmakers, editors and web developers all creatively chipping in to push the envelope of the ever-growing indie scene.”It’s a bit like a multidisciplinary artist collective”, says Sahej.
The site with its affable interface and bluish-purple glaze has everything from the schedule of the day to re-runs of old shows for you to enjoy during the early hours of the morning. Still in beta form, the founders plan to expand the site in order to accommodate more content like editorial write ups, blogs and video sections. All to enhance the listening experience. “In addition to that, we’re going to add search and genre tag functionality to make it easier to find what you’re looking for,” says MoCity.
With the name and the logo symbolising an open box, boxout was started on the principle of inclusion. The team receives mixes and demos daily from aspiring musicians and they sincerely respond and guide them if they feel their sound is not ready for air. “What we’re looking for is a signature sound, a personal stamp of authenticity that you need to stand out from the crowd. It’s not about playing what’s already trending, it’s about being yourself and showing us who you are and where you come from”, says MoCity. They have no boundaries with regard to genre and language. Sahej says, “We are not an electronic-only radio station – to us music is music, and the more original and authentic it is, the better.”
It can’t be denied that the Indian music scene is at an exciting point. The increasing amount of artists and music being churned out every day is a testament that these are baby steps towards something great. The environment however sometimes fails to give musicians proper nourishment to cultivate their craft. There are a select few hotspots around the country for artists to perform at although it looks like this venue-drought isn’t going anywhere. As a scene veteran MoCity comments, “If the number of people regularly attending gigs increases and there is a real demand for real music, then things can only get better as it would hopefully encourage more entrepreneurs to open new venues.”
So in times like these boxout seems pivotal. With the ever growing popularity of the scene it is crucial for it to have an online fulcrum. People can’t wait for the festival season or their local club to let their favourite artists play once in two months. They need fresh music, and they need it now. Sahej says, “We hope that at the very least, it will alert newcomers to the existence of such a diverse and active scene, and convey to them that their participation and support is invaluable to all of us. Thinking beyond that, we hope to unify the community that is slowly growing around boxout.fm, and take it to new and interesting spaces – we have so many ideas of ways to get everyone involved. Being by the community and for the community is absolutely central to our goal as an organisation.”
written by Archit Shetye