‘Don’t do fusion unless you believe in it’

While the independent music industry of the country seems to have received a shot in the arm with the hosting of Baaja Gaaja in Pune, I had a telephonic discussion with virtuoso vocalist and the musician who conceived the entire event, Subha Mudgal.

Though our discussion encompassed various aspects of music, at the end I realized that the independent music industry in mainstream India had never had it better. I say mainstream India because the Northeastern region has been totally left out of the picture. Now if you are talking music and Arts, you cannot leave out the Northeast, especially those working on independent labels. It’s just too bad that the organizers succumbed to the typical Indian mentality of ignoring the region but instead of criticizing, I urge them to come and experience music in the Northeast! Because as they say and as I like to believe, there’s always a next time!

Following are excerpts from my discussion with Mudgal:

Aiyushman: Please tell me more about this expo.

SM: Just like other aspects, even the music of the country is really diverse. But the sad fact is that many of our most exquisite forms of music currently face the threat of extinction and is struggling to survive. It goes without saying that the performances of independent labels form an important part in the marketing of the country’s musical diversity. But it is really sad to see the lack of supporters for independent musical forms as even the music industry supports only Bollywood and Indipop music. As a result, some of our best musicians seek opportunities outside India, prefer to reside overseas and perform in India only as visiting artistes. We therefore need to nurture diversity in Indian music once again, and provide sustained support to as many forms and genres of music as possible. Indeed, this is what the Baajaa Gaajaa project proposes to do when it attempts to showcase the many independent record labels that are committed to creativity, originality and diversity. The project also aims to provide a platform where through discussion and dialogue, this alternate music industry as it were, will find solutions for its improvement and progress. In short, Baaja Gaaja is a celebration of the diversity in India’s music.

Aiyushman: I hear Baaja Gaaja is also into publishing works on music…

SM: Yes, publishing is definitely a part. We have published books in English and a number of Indian languages. However, we could not publish them in all the Indian languages. This is our first time and I guess we need a bit more time to prove our credentials.

Aiyushman: What plans does Baaja Gaaja have for Northeast India.

SM: Northeast India is definitely in the uppermost of our minds. We tried contacting several people — both through the government as well as through private agencies. Unfortunately, we couldn’t have any representation from the region. But since this is our first time, I guess we need a bit more time. The first show should be proof enough of our commitment and sincerity in supporting the independent labels.

Aiyushman: What kind of arrangements has been made for those willing to be part of the event?

SM: Music is an ongoing process. We all keep on learning. We surely can’t wait to welcome the Northeast musicians into our fold! Anyone who wants to be a part are welcome. Everything is free and there are no fees of any sort. We could not arrange for transportation and accommodation as we don’t have enough funds, but again, as I said, this is our first time.

Aiyushman: On a personal note, how would you term your recent performance in Guwahati?

SM: Well, the Guwahati show was okay. I am happy that I got the chance to perform in a place like Guwahati. And the very fact that classical events are organized in that city is a matter of joy in itself.

Aiyushman: Do you feel that musicians having traditionalist mindsets would do better by trying to change their mentality and experiment a bit more with music in order to meet the needs of the present generation?

SM: I seriously feel that nobody should do fusion until and unless that totally believe in it. In fact, nobody should make music by keeping the market in mind. I can’t suggest any formula for making music that clicks, but it is imperative that we don’t let market concerns dominate us while making music.


About Aiyushman Dutta

Who am I? Yet to find the answer. For the time being, u can call me a writer, maybe a journalist and a music entrepreneur or an errand boy! Whatever suits your fancy!

Posted on January 15, 2010, in Concerts/ Reviews, Day-to-Day, Musicians/ Bands, Personalities/ Interviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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