Bands say music biz is challenging

Everything’s looking up for band Zenguin, despite a recent shakeup to its music.

The Delhi-based band was in town for a gig at Fandom recently, giving audiences one of the first tastes of their new lineup and instrumental rock sound.

While guitarist Saksham Gupta is now looking forward to the future, only a month ago he didn’t think there would be one after their original bass player left. The band, which also includes drummer Vasu Singal, had just finished recording a new EP and were gearing up to share their new music.

“It felt like maybe the end of the band after all the years we’d put into it,” Saksham says.

Then, days before a scheduled gig last month, they managed to recruit Akshay Dwivedi, who plays an electric upright bass. They practised together a handful of times before hitting the stage, and the audience loved the new sound with its jazz-style bass, he says.

“Somehow we pulled it off,” Saksham says.  “From being depressed and feeling like the band is over, I’ve actually flipped and now the band feels like it’s really getting good. It’s revitalised everything.”

Presented by OAF Records and Fandom, Zenguin shared the stage on Thursday with fellow Delhi band Ioish and South Indian singer-songwriter Nikhil J Menon.

Ioish began seven years ago as a solo project of guitarist Vaibhav Bhutani. He was soon joined by bassist Abhinav Chaudhary and drummer Anshul Lall and they’ve been touring since.

Due to release their second EP on October 31, making music is Vaibhav’s way of letting himself out, he says. However, being a touring indie band without Hindi vocals does present its challenges at times.

“The kind of music we make doesn’t really appeal to the masses here in India, most of the people who listen to music nowadays listen to it to forget,” he says. “Our music is more thought-provoking, rather than something meaningless that might help you forget what you’re going through for a short time.”

Being a musician is pretty great, Saksham says, despite the time it takes to get going at the beginning. It can be tight, with the band managing jobs to sustain their music, but it’s their passion.

“Once you get going and build momentum it starts becoming really great. People know about you and are wanting to listen to new songs and that is a pretty great feeling.”

As OAF Records founder Siddharth Nair sees it, India’s music scene is growing. The Bengalurean established the label in January and has signed five bands from around the country - including the three from Thursday’s gig. The label is focused on securing artists, gigs, and content for now, and not looking to recording yet. Siddharth, who is a musician himself, hopes he can help build audience appetites for live music.

“People aren’t paying to watch live music as much as musicians would like,” he says. “In two or three years this country will be at its peak for accepting live music.”

 

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Bands say music biz is challenging

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