The pandemic has been monumental in rewriting and shaping the history and the future of the Indian music community. With new forms of media and technology moulding the landscape of music production in the country, there is a surge in amateur electronic music producers who are making strides towards expanding this community whilst making it an inclusive space.
Electronic music in India has been fluid ever since its inception. The genre has changed course and found newer niches for itself over time. The pandemic witnessed the rise of a new generation of producers to whom age, gender, or even adequate resources was not a hindrance.
Bedroom production has been represented as a hobbyist’s art for far too long. A bedroom producer refers to an amateur musician who employs low-cost technology set up within a home studio to create and perform. However, over the last decade, particularly in the last two years, bedroom production is ironically moving away from the confines of those four walls.
With social media alternating as a virtual performance venue, the industry is now beginning to turn its attention towards developing a fair playing field for music producers irrespective of their age or experience.
From building a tightly-knit and supportive community to fall back on to navigating these new unchartered waters, Homegrown speaks to producers Raka Ashok, Kalmi & Noni Mouse on what this change could mean for the underground music scene in India.
Bengaluru-based Raka Ashok knows how to rile up a crowd in all the right ways. This multifaceted producer, beat-maker, and graphic illustrator is often seen firing up the decks with sounds as fresh as his perspectives on the ever-evolving music scene.
‘The internet never sleeps. We’ve seen some incredible new talent emerge from different parts of the country in the past year alone with a slew of releases being put out independently. When the pandemic hit us, we were largely confined within the four walls of our homes. It forces you to get creative with your time. There’s always an audience as long as you create.’— Raka Ashok
Raka could easily be considered a veteran in the bedroom production generation, having started his beat-making journey way back in 2008. In making sense of the pandemic and making his art more attuned to the changing times, Raka appears to be using his experience to shape his unique approach towards music production.
‘The barrier to entry is low as anyone with a decent PC, laptop, or tablet with a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) loaded in can get started.
You can literally make music off your phone these days! There’s also an ever-growing community now to support you.’— Raka, on how accessible the process of music production has become over the years.
Nearly 13 years on in his music journey, Raka is now on a mission to foster and nurture this growing community in his own way. He has co-founded an exclusive monthly club-night property named ALL IN to promote some of the most cutting-edge music along with producers from across the country.
Kalmireddy Nikhil is a Hyderabad-based producer who has been making waves in the industry since 2015. Kalmi’s journey in beat-making originally dates all the way back to 2013 when his music and process were confined to his home studio.
As a high school student back then, Kalmi aspired to be a progressive house DJ with his interests strongly invested in club music. Cut to 2021, Kalmi is spearheading a new generation of young music producers who are venturing into unchartered territories of music-making.
‘The pandemic has just set the ground to zero for every creator out there and has made them rethink their priorities. Everybody has been more online during the pandemic and stuck on their phones which in turn made the whole world change - people just keep scrolling. And if you made music and put it out on a place like Instagram, the chances of it reaching people have been quite high.
I honestly think music-making has become very one dimensional because of how the consumer space has become. People don’t put in the effort to actually make it sound different and good but it’s become more about how many numbers I have as opposed to have I made something substantial.’— Kalmi on how the last two years have changed the landscape for producers
By learning and evolving within this community, Kalmi has scaled new heights in the pandemic through his latest experiments in the hip-hop space.
Mumbai-based singer and producer Radhapriya Gupta who goes by the stage name Noni-Mouse has had formal training in the music production space yet advocates for an equal playing field for all music producers, irrespective of their gender or experience in the industry.
‘I end up spending a lot of my time with producers from Bombay, where the scene is relatively welcoming. I believe that talking and exchanging information with them has helped me immensely in the past. I highly encourage anyone starting out to reach out to as many producers as possible on Instagram and simply talk to them.
I think the community gives priority to keeping lines of communication open between producers, making it very open and welcoming.’— Radhapriya Gupta aka Noni-Mouse
Radha has performed with her electronica group Tankbund and was also a part of a couple of choirs before she decided to venture into creating her own independent music.
It was right before the pandemic that she went live with her solo act Noni-Mouse, producing cutting-edge sounds that hover over her hip-hop, synth-laced and ambient influences. Her debut EP, noni-pop has also delved into this experimental production process and was released in 2018
For an artist in 2021, amateur or not, patience is definitely key. Especially newer artists, need to take the time to explore and distil their own sound, aesthetic, and visual language. The more you know your personal aesthetic and your own sound, the more it makes people want to believe in it as well.— - Radha to artists starting out in 2021
Young artists are now being empowered to share their music with the world. Emerging technology and social media have made this process both more encouraging and even more seamless over the years.
With powerful strides being made in the blurring of the boundaries between bedroom producers and those who lie beyond this space, there is an exciting air of hope and an increasing acceptance of musical deviants and experimentalists who create their art from the confines of their homes.
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