Apart from organising what is arguably the country's biggest music festival, Bacardi NH7 Weekender, to producing TV shows like The Dewarists (which picked the Cannes Lion last year) and 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 — while New Delhi and Bangalore were added to the list last year, the festival will go to Kolkata this year. This year, however, the festival has limited the number of tickets and to 9,000 and is redoing stages — the metal and rock stage, Rock Arena, will be fused with the headlining stage and called Bacardi Arena, and a new indie stage will come up. With the sale of tickets for Weekender Pune, to be held on October 18-20, we catch up with Vijay Nair. Edited excerpts:
Despite the nu-hipster haven vibe that the festival exudes, many old timers were disappointed with Weekender 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.
You're restricting the number of tickets to 9,000 this year. What made you do that, when Pune alone saw a footfall of 30,000 last year? Did you want to go back to what Weekender was when it started?
When we started the festival, it was never about becoming the biggest festival. It was just about giving people the best possible festival experience that we could organise. While the festival has grown a lot faster than we'd ever imagined, we'd like to focus first on building the best experience first. And then, scale up eventually.
What made the team expand the festival to Kolkata this year? Are there other cities you're looking at in the coming years? If yes, what are possible cities?
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 with Bacardi NH7 Weekender has always been to expand to other cities and to take the music festival culture across the country. We started out in Pune, and four years on, we’re in four cities. We’d love to add on more cities next year, but we’ve not yet zeroed down on cities yet. Though, we’re quite keen on going to the North East soon. As time progresses, we’d love to be able to take the festival to smaller cities and smaller towns 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 to Glastonbury 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 whole lot. Everything was completely different 10-12 years ago, when I first started out. Earlier, the goal was to secure gigs for your band. A death 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 are 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.