The Music And The Crowd: An Interview

Illustration by Allen B Thangkhiew

The life of an artist cannot be an easy one. The hustle, the inconsistent journeys. From working at dive bars, practising in rooms and basements, and trying to mould sounds, beats and lyrics, to reaching points where your music starts getting recognised.  It’s recognition enough that you get invited to perform at a big national festival. You feel elated. You’re euphoric. You’re on top of the world. You haven’t “made it” just yet, there’s still a lot more to do to establish yourself, but for that brief moment, you allow yourself to feel like you made it, just a little bit, and all that hard work is paying off. Then, you open social media, excited to be a part of the lineup, only to be met with internet trolls. Trolled by individuals who have not heard of your music, and passing comments so carelessly, as they wait for band names that were not yours. The sense of euphoria dissipates, and you know that the best thing to do is to shrug your shoulders and move on, but there’s a nagging feeling still at the back of your head.

If I were a musician, how might I react in such situations, in the face of criticism that borders on the hateful rather than the constructive?

I spoke to a couple of musicians from my hometown and what they explained was eye-opening.

BLUE TEMPTATION

(c) Blue Temptation
  1. How have platforms such as NH7 helped the music scene in India?

If you look at NH7 as a support system and a reward system then it would have helped a lot for  bands to get a slot to perform at the festival as a reward for their merit but also as a support system for future endeavours. There are countless other cities and it’s going to be impossible to survive just in Shillong but we do need to start branching out and get more gigs and catch the attention of festival organizers . NH7 will not even contribute to 50% of your annual band revenue so you’ve got to look elsewhere. It’s a complicated integrated network of releasing music, creating music videos, creative artwork, merchandise, gigging, building relationships and recently monetisation online. It can’t just be on one festival that our careers are made but it helps a lot for you to get to be in front of those eyeballs who will spread the word. Especially if they’re venue owners, talent scouts or press.

NH7 was a huge push for us when we played in Shillong for the first time and it got us subsequent gigs to follow, so no doubt it does help but we shouldn’t really rely on it. Heck, there are bands who have done just fine not having played a single NH7. Weird right?

  1. There have been some internet trolls on a disappointing lineup, what runs through your mind on seeing such comments?

I’ve said a lot lately on this and frankly I get the frustration because there’s a world class festival that brings top notch artists and each year there’s always an expectancy level that is beyond satisfaction. I wanted to see John Mayer and Tame Impala but I shouldn’t be upset if that didn’t happen. The more disappointing thing though is that when you complain of the lineup you’re taking away from the ones who made it to the lineup, and to go as far as to say that they didn’t deserve or throw shade at them saying they got in only through influencing other people is outright wrong. What began as disappointment turned into hate and that’s scary because I thought people would understand why and how these things happen.

There are so many factors as to why their favourite bands couldn’t make it to the lineup and they shouldn’t have to blame the ones that made it to the lineup as a reason. It’s just wrong. The ones who made it worked hard for that and should be praised yet it was filled with negativity. It’s unfair and it’s also inhumane to post about your frustrations on an artist’s promo post or something. That is cyberbullying, right? Maybe I’m stretching it too far but it hurts.

  1. Where do you think the gap exists between expectations of people and what music festivals like NH7 deliver?

I would like to believe that there’s lack of knowledge on how the selection procedure for the lineup for festivals happen, but really, which music festival out there has to explain how they select their artists anyways? It’s not on me to point out what the gap is but I believe if people are unhappy with what they see on the billing then they should not partake in it. I can’t expect to unwrap a chocolate bar and when I find a chocolate bar inside then be mad because I expected a lollipop. Just buy the lollipop or if you buy the chocolate bar then don’t complain if its a chocolate bar, right?

  1. What is your message to the internet trolls?

Just stop, you’re making everyone uncomfortable and we’re cringing in our seats really. Are you buying a ticket? No? So stop complaining. Don’t say it’s a waste of money when you didn’t spend it. And if yes, you are buying a ticket then come front row to your local artists first or just come for “The Vool” or Intervals, anyways, have a good time. We hope to see you at the Blue Temptation show and we’ll forget about the troll fest and just have a good time. We have a lot of new music, come listen. Peace.


MANOVAN MASSAR

(c) Manovan Massar
  1. How have platforms such as NH7 helped the music scene in India?

More and more acts are finding their ‘original’ sounds, making a name for themselves, bringing in their own identities and the scene is exploding with all sorts of new sounds, original and experimental material so where I’m looking from, it seems like a good place for the Indian music scene to develop and forward organically and set the standard.

  1. There have been some internet trolls on a disappointing lineup, what runs through your mind on seeing such comments?

I don’t want there to be any sort of division amongst the people that support the scene at all levels, artist and non-artist. Maybe from a different perspective I could be disappointed too but judging from my own expectations, I could say if at the first year of the festival it was headlined by one of the most legendary reggae bands,  should we be whining that no reggae act is headlining this year? I see the most common thing people are saying is that if they pay, they have the right to say. But hey, even if you are supporting an act financially or otherwise you don’t own the artist and only the artist should decide where, what and when they want to play. Similarly, promoters and organisers have a right to call artists they want because it’s them that have to make the deal and spend the money. Likewise, the people have a right to not buy the tickets if they don’twant to check out and experience the festival for what it is.

  1. Where do you think the gap exists between expectations of people and what music festivals like NH7 deliver?

Like I said, I think expectations are diverse. We all would like to see and hear our favourite artists play live to us. But it doesn’t make sense to have expectations and make a fuss in this context. It’s a big festival hosting different genres of acts. So don’t expect a festival as diverse as NH7 to deliver and cater to each and everyone’s line up wish. There are genre specific, dedicated music festivals and if at a hip-hop fest there were only rock & roll acts, that’s something to shout about.So what should we expect from a festival like NH7 Weekender? Good and positive vibes, a big conscious gathering, zero crime rate, original inter-outer national acts, quality sound and new music of high production standards.

  1. What is your message to the internet trolls?

I actually do not want to respond to the trolls. Those that think they deserve better or feel they have a right to comment negatively can go on and the show will go on too. And those that want to go, maybe some of whom also didn’t want to attend at first, who are still reluctant to attend, will be there and will find that the only the problem with festival is definitely not the line up.

Wait, actually I take back all the good things I said. We are not ready for a better line up. Those who have been to or watched top class festivals outside will get what I’m saying. We don’t know how to come ‘together’, ‘to gather’ in consciousness and make everyone from children to women feel comfortable. We dirty up the place and in the end don’t really care. We don’t know how to respect, support and uplift the scene. We want free passes and our names on the guest lists.

Come on, is it only the line up that makes a good festival?


As the folks at Blue Temptation and Manovan said, the essence of music festivals lies not only in a tailor made  lineup, but the good vibes and the chance to explore new music are also part of the charm of music festivals.

Sure, it’s the tenth year of the festival and people probably expected much bigger names, but can we step back and applaud that we have enough homegrown bands in the country that can bring a crowd in? And that these bands are every bit deserving to be up on that stage and performing?  So why not choose the easiest route, and let the happiest music festival grow only with good vibes?

 

 

 

Author: Camilla Lyndem

Camilla Ann Lyndem is a Staff Writer. Based in Bengaluru, she is a graduate of St.Stephen’s College, Delhi, where she completed her Undergraduate and Postgraduate degree in English Literature.Although a hardcore liberal arts student, she enjoys coding and has worked on building smart models, including a smart irrigation system (take that, CS students).

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