With the third edition of the 2Stroke tour scheduled to take place from the 2nd of March starting at Antisocial, Delhi, we at the Front Row Ravers caught up with Uddipan Sarmah and Ramkrishna, the pioneers of this break through movement in the history of Indie music in the country. We had them talking about the current state of Indie music, DIY tours and much more. Do read the full interview below:
Hello and congratulations on behalf of the Front Row Ravers on the third edition of the 2Stroke Tour. With the current state of Indie music in the country, this surely is a fantastic achivement. Three DIY tours in a span of 10 months, how does it feel? Did you guys imagine such a terrific response?
Uddipan: It feels great! 😀 More than anything, we are happy of the fact that it has survived as a DIY tour over 2 editions. Great support by the musicians across the country has helped us achieve this. When we started, we were sure we will create a buzz as the tour being a back to back gig thing. But the buzz will be so huge, we never imagined. We appreciate everyone’s love and constant support which keeps us motivated.
Before we move forward, we always have the Indie bands in the country lamenting about the negligent attitude showed toward Indie music by the various stakeholders. Do you think, the stakeholders like record labels, event organizing firms do underestimate the Indie music scene in the country?
Uddipan: Nobody underestimates the Indie music or the artists. It’s just that the calculation of doing a business has to work. We need to understand that even the organizers and stakeholders need to generate revenue. Every event works in different model and that might fit in few bands into programming criteria and not the rest. In such a case if Indie artists are not being added, it doesn’mean they are being neglected. At the end of the day it’s all about generating revenue, or breaking even. One of the both needs to happen!
Starting a band, playing music and then taking it further by performing in front of fans across different cities is a dream of every band/musical group, but not all do succeed. There are ‘n’ number of problems to be faced. In this perspective, your idea of a DIY multi city tour was surely a stroke of genius! We would like to know something more from you about it? Like what triggered this move, was it something which you guys had in the pipeline before or there was any specific instance which led to the start?
Uddipan: It was more impulsive than too much of meeting and planning happening. I was trying to work on a tour for my band and the idea to add a more established band came into the picture. Then I met Ram and we spoke about it. Moment the projections got clear with respect to finance, we started approaching bands. Pangea was the first band to be approached, everything worked out well until one of their members had to travel abroad for some urgent work. Next was Parvaaz, but they were not sure about the idea. Thats when Skrat jumped into it the moment we approached them with plans about the idea of ‘5 days 5 gigs’. They are super energetic folks and dare to experiment. We have very few such bands in the country. 😉
The 2Stroke tour has been the trendsetter and has inspired many new upcoming DIY gigs in the country? Do you think in the near future that the bands would become much smarter and would be more inclined to the DIY gigs?
Uddipan: I take this pride that people call 2Stroke the real #tourlife tour in India. I am not sure about the trendsetter thing. And after June 2015, we did see lot of bands touring and building a calendar. which is great. Earlier, artists used to play shows over the weekend and then call it a tour. But now everyone is interested on back to back gigs. Thats what is needed in our country. Venues are opening doors for the same. Everything is going great I guess.
Siddharth Basrur: If bands know what’s good for them, and if they want to survive, they must start doing that. The 2Stroke Tour is a first of its kind initiative, and hopefully, more and more artists and organizers will start doing something similar.
The current music scene in the country is more EDM-centric. The Owl in fact very curious do you follow any of the electronic music acts? Like have you ever attended any of the glamourized electronic music festivals? If yes, how was the vibe like?
Ram: Never attended any EDM festival. 😛
aswekeepsearching, Skrat, The Ganesh Talkies, Last Remaining Light and now The Circus and Street Stories. What do you look for in a band before approaching them to be a part of this setup?
Uddipan: The music, the energy and the attitude towards accepting challenges. We will always keep two artists from different cities who haven’t performed or toured together before. Also, releasing new material is an add-on but not something we like to stick to.
We finally have a band from the North East joining in the third edition of 2Stroke tour. Can we see this as a positive sign where in we would have more and more bands from the ‘Land of 7 Sisters’ working together with BlueTree?
Uddipan: I am from Assam and I love my state and the other 6 sister states. Enough said. 🙂
From the first edition with Sriram T.T to the second edition with Siddharth Basrur and Suyasha Sengupta has there been a change in the way audience have been walking in and their perception to the band and the scene?
Uddipan: Different bands, different music and so are different audience. The combination of two artists with a contrasting genre has given us a good reach and also given the bands an exposure to a newer audience. Apart from everything else, what excites us is everyone coming and appreciating the work we have been doing.
What is next for 2stroke tour? Uddipan, you went down to Russia with aswekeepsearching on a album tour. Is there a slightest possibility that this national level tour could go abroad and help the independent bands establish a better international fan base?
Uddipan: See, thats on the music! The music one makes should appeal to an international crowd and the organizers there should be interested to invest their time and energy to promote the music. Aswekeepsearching’s album was released by a Russian label and they promoted it massively. And people there loved the music, so the band was called over. This is pure experimentation which I will do with artists whom I am planning to sign for BlueTree. 😉 If it works out, why not, I would be more than happy to go international with BlueTree.
What is the major difference between the national tours you guys do with a promoter and the national tour you did with Bluetree Studios apart from being a no sponsor, DIY tour?
Suyasha: In the Indian context, touring ideally means playing gigs during the weekends, returning home and flying back out again, on loop. 2Stroke with Blue Tree was a tour like no other because we were essentially on the road for 10 days at a stretch to play 8 back-to-back gigs. We experienced what one could call the true essence of being a traveling musician.
Sriram T.T: The difference is a matter of cash, accounts and budgets. This ends up changing how a band tours and what they expect on tour. The 2Stroke tour was closer to home. It was hard work but yielded the most satisfaction in the end. Frankly speaking, it was a strange but happy experience all together.
Siddharth Basrur: Goddess Gagged never really toured, before. We did do a bunch of shows, but none of them were as intense as the 2 Stroke Tour. What Uddipan and Ram have started, is a movement, and I’m glad that the scene has folks like them, who are taking initiative. The 2Stroke Tour is a great model to follow.
What do you as a band look at before stepping into a DIY tour like the 2Stroke tour?
Suyasha: We have always maintained, as a band, that we are up for anything that will help the so-called ‘independent scene’ in India grow. So the idea of a DIY tour such as 2 Stroke was immediately appealing. We are believers of DIY culture (our music videos and our debut record were both DIY, non-crowd funded ventures) and as a band we looked forward to doing our bit, ie, playing our music.
Since we were told right from start that there was no corporate sponsorship or backing, we were okay to play the tour since the organizers were very transparent about their financial plan.
However, as a band, we do have some requirements which we do not like to compromise on, such as our tech-rider requirements. As long as that is taken care of, we’re always up for crazy ventures such as 2Stroke.
Sriram T.T: Incredible memories!
A DIY tour is done the way we want it how we want it. And sometimes we end up being more efficient as artists. It’s tougher than a promoted tour. But then I would say it’s much close and personal. 🙂
The Owl would also like to highlight that we are slowly seeing some gradual movement with more and more people joining in the Indie music scene. We also now have a dedicated music channel MTV Indies launched which only focusses on the homegrown, Indie music. What do you think of this move?
Suyasha: I think it’s a good time to be a musician writing one’s own music in India. Having a channel dedicated solely to independent music has been a huge pillar of support for us. Things can only get better from this point and I’m hoping that more such ventures will follow suit.
The penultimate question we have specially reserved for Ram with his background as a music blogger. How important do you think is the contribution of fan made music portals to the growing Indie music scene in the country?
Ram: It could help in spreading the word about the band and its music. But a badly done portal or a poorly written blog post can possibly do some damage. And from what we see on people’s behavior on social media, content on fan-made music portals can also get ugly because as fans, the bias in them is quite strong. 🙂
Lastly before we leave, is there any message you would like to drop to our fellow ravers using this platform?
Ram: Support the artists you like, pay for the music, do your bit to keep good things alive!
Sriram T.T: Dear 2Stroke tourers out there, have a great time ahead! This is something special. 😇
The third edition of the 2Stroke Tour kicks off with The Circus and Street Stories on the 2nd of March. The 2 bands will take over Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Gurgaon, Shillong before concluding at Guwahati on the 13th of March. Stay updated about the tour by RSVPing on the Event Page here.
Tickets for the third edition of the 2Stoke Tour are available here.