For those of us who grew up resenting the limited universe of music, almost always overshadowed by Bollywood, Only Much Louder (OML) could have been nothing but happy news. Apart from organising what is arguably the country's biggest music festival, Bacardi NH7 Weekender, to producing TV shows like The Dewarists, MTV SoundTrippin', and running online magazine NH7 Indiecison, OML seems dedicated to making our world more musically sound.
Co-founder Vijay Nair, who's organised more than 500 odd concerts from when he started out 12 years ago, says, "When we programme bands, we just want people to discover great acts that they might never have seen or heard before." From acts as diverse as Imogen Heap, The Manganiyar Seduction, Jinja Safari, Buraka Som Sistema, Textures, Norah Jones, Meshuggah and Megadeth, OML is slowly but steadily emerging as the collective whose fabric is simple a good musical experience.
Bacardi NH7 Weekender, that started out in Pune in 2010 has now stretched out to three more cities in four years New Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata. Excerpts from an interview.
Despite the nu-hipster haven vibe that the festival exudes, many old timers were disappointed last year, because some felt it has become a sell-out. What do you have to say to that?
Well, it’s a hipster’s prerogative to hate the mainstream, right? Isn’t that the general definition anyway? Bacardi NH7 Weekender grew a lot faster than we expected, largely through word of mouth people coming and telling their friends about it. Our focus is on building the best festival experience, and then scale up.
What made the team expand the festival to Kolkata this year? Kolkata has a really solid tradition in music, ranging from classical to Bangla rock. We’re really excited to be going there for the first time this year. Our aim has always been to take the music festival culture across the country.
Name one festival that you want have fashioned Weekender on.
I travel a lot, and have been going to music festivals over the last 10-12 years now. I love Glastonbury I went there this year and just walked a lot. I love how they build really small yet different experiences into the festival. Despite how huge it is, there’s always little things to discover and art to interact with.
How much has artist management changed over the years from when you started out?
It's changed a lot in 10-12 years. since I started out. Earlier, the goal was to secure gigs for your band. A dearth of good venues was the biggest challenge; everything else was secondary. Now, while booking gigs is important, as an artist manager, we're able to look beyond that into promotion, albums and building a career path for an artist.
It's exciting to be a part of the current music scene, isn't it?
It's a great time to be part of the scene right now. Though for me, it always has been. The industry keeps getting a little more organised each year there are more bands, more promoters, more festivals, more fans, and of course more sponsors. All of that contributes towards growth.
The Dewarists picked up a Cannes Lion, while SoundTrippin' somewhat changed the grammar of music shows. Are there any new shows on the anvil?
We're producing a lot of content that's beyond music now. We've just started a comedy sketch show on YouTube called Bakchod 365 and there are a couple of lifestyle shows we are going to be producing.