Indie music scene in India is encouraging, people now welcome independent artists
Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
Delhi-based Vedic & Indie Act, VRR SUTRA, is all set to perform at Greater Kailash in New Delhi this weekend. Led by Vinit Roop Rai, VRR SUTRA has been active in the independent music scene of India for the past few years, and has to its credit songs like Raavan, Sikander, Uthal Puthal, Himalaya, Pruthvi and Parvati among others, which can be heard on music platforms like Spotify and Apple Music etc.
Vinit Roop Rai
Born and brought up in Rajasthan, Rai was inclined towards creative arts since childhood. He participated in all kinds of creative activities, including song and dance events. “During my high school and while I was studying BBA at Jai Narain Vyas University, Jodhpur, my friends often told me that I sing well. Their words stayed with me so after I finished my graduation, I decided to carve my way into this domain,” he says.
As an artist his first performance was in year 2008 in his hometown Jodhpur, wherein he performed with a few close friends. The overwhelming response he got encouraged him to move ahead with confidence. Excerpts from an interview:
Anyone in the family into music world…
Though there is no professional musician in my family, my late grandmother using to sing and play dholak in all the family and extended family functions. I guess that the only genetic reference I can find to the inception of my musical career.
When was the band formed, and who all are a part of it?
As a unit, VRR SUTRA first came into being in year 2018. Earlier I used to perform with my band under my name but I was looking for a better title that would resonate with the type of songs I write, hence the new name VRR SUTRA. As members, we have:
Gaurav Dasgupta on Drums, the oldest member in the line-up, he is a DJ and a music producer. He has produced several projects with the band and Solo.
Arpan Mukherjee on Keyboard. He is a musician who plays a number of instruments. He runs a Studio and Music School of his own.
Akash Nayak has been associated with the band since four years now and has contributed multiple times in several original songs by the band. He is a Gamer, a YouTuber and a learned musician with some impressive skills with the guitar and music theories.
Rajesh Thapa is a veteran Guitarist from Sikkim, who worked with several bands prior to joining our band in 2019.
Ankit Ganguly recently joined VRR SUTRA as its full-time Bassist. One of the key songs of VRR SUTRA, Raavan, has a Bass line by Ankit.
How many total performances have you done so far, where all, and which one was most encouraging.
We have had over 1000 shows across India that includes all my solo performances, full band gigs and smaller set ups like Duo or Trio. There have been several gigs that made me feel that I just don’t want to stop performing. Few gigs I did during my #indieRising tour in 2017 in Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Manali, Kasol, Jaipur and more. And with the whole band we performed at Pune, Goa, Dehradun, Udaipur and Gurgaon have been a good experience amongst the others.
What’s your take on Indie music scene in India? Also, how does it fare when compared to West?
Indie music scene is expanding. There are more opportunities and several venues in the country that support and promote the idea. The challenge that I feel is still the same as 2017, i.e. audience in Tier 2 and 3 cities is not much aware of this concept. It’s true that everyone has smart phones and Internet with them now, yet for them the idea of Indian music is still the filmi music. This is not just restricted to Rock and Pop Musicians, but even the Indian classical has seen a dip in past few years in the smaller cities. I believe the West is not any different at present, since majority of population still follows the label artists and not Independent ones. However, there is a certain understanding within the audience about the difference between the two, which I think is really important while making a choice on what to hear. One should be aware of all the options, after all.
Tell us more about your campaign on Indie music that you launched in 2017. How much impact did it have? Are you doing anything now to popularise/ promote it?
This campaign was launched right after the demonetisation. I was struggling for gigs for two months but nothing was forthcoming. I was running out of money, didn’t even have to oy eough for rent. So, I decided that I will leave the house with my bag and guitar, sell all my furniture and go on a journey. I contacted every venue in several cities via internet and told them about the idea of my campaign #indieRising. It was anyway hard for me since I focused more on original music rather than Bollywood covers, and venue owners needed commercial music to entertain their regular customers. This made me realize that in order to make people listen to my music I first need to make them aware of what is, ‘This Kind of Music’.
That’s when I started my journey, I travelled in sleeper class trains coaches, non-AC buses, to several cities, performed there, slept on friends’ couches, or stayed in cheap hostels. But even after all that, ‘Life was good’.
How has Indie music evolved in last one decade? How do you foresee its future?
I think it will just go up from here. Ten years back, as I said earlier, there was hardly any awareness about the parallel industry. In cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore it was termed as Underground Music Scene. But now people are welcoming independent artists as well into their playlists.
Having said that, making people listen to original music is still a challenge since the attention span has reduced to less than 40 seconds now, still the Indie scene is on a major evolving phase currently.
VRR SUTRA performs on May 5, at Depot 48, GK-2, New Delhi
For tickets visit Townscript.com