Someplace Else (The Park, Kolkata), INOX (City Centre) & The Doodle Room will be welcoming the music lovers of Kolkata on 21st June to celebrate the spirit of International Music Day. As a toast to the freedom of music, there is absolutely NO ENTRY FEE. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? It’s not every day you get to enter premium venues without paying a single rupee and get to watch kick-ass bands and solo artists showcasing their magnetizing craft.
From back in 2014, Saumya Roy Chowdhury and Tapasi Bhattacharya have been organizing this day-long event and we had the chance to catch up with them last year to explore International Music Day, Kolkata.
BongRong: Greetings from Bongrong! Tell us a bit about International Music Day, Kolkata 2015.
Tapasi: I think by now everybody knows about the history of this festival worldwide. In Kolkata, International Music Day means being able to be in the company of good music, of varying genres, for an entire day and also being able to learn something along the way for the entire week before 21st June in our workshops. 2015 was no different.
Saumya: I was the chief designer and coordinator of the same festival in 2013, which was hosted under the banner of Alliance Française du Bengale and saw more than 60 amateur soloists/bands performed across 9 public venues spread out over Kolkata. In 2014, I and Tapasi, with the help of other musicians, volunteers and music lovers of Kolkata put in a combined effort without the support of any brand, or sponsors, and created the biggest music festival in Kolkata ever, in order to celebrate Fête de la Musique or International Music Day. This has been perhaps the biggest mass music festival on that day in India - with 700 musicians (more than a 100 bands and many soloists) - and certainly in mass involvement among the biggest music festivals in Kolkata. The festival was very successful and popular and found mention on the website of ADCEP which is a committee in France that helps out people to organise Fete de la Musique. In 2015, we aimed higher and strived to bring more quality and harmony!
BongRong: What made you guys decide that you are going to organize such an event?
Tapasi: Funny thing is back in 2013, I was just a performer at this festival and I performed at Oxford. In 2014, Saumya da approached me and a couple of other musicians and pitched the idea of doing this ourselves without the support of any banner. I was reluctant at first because I had rarely been associated with the execution of a festival this widespread and it was scary for me. But then it just happened.
Saumya: I have always felt the absence of a jam-packed music bash in Kolkata. I wished we could swing and dance till late or through the day and not have to worry. It would be only music, no politics, no gyaan. Then it hit me that if I could not get what I wanted, then the second best option is to create it. I was designing events for a French institution in Kolkata. Being associated with the French language and culture since school days I was fully aware of Fête de la Musique and exactly how large it was in France. Even if we could replicate a part of it, it would be bigger than any music bash here. It also seemed to me that if we celebrated in the spirit of music, keeping the concerts open and free, we would get enough support to make it even with a small team. The director took up my interest and we organised a big Music Day in 2013 for the first time in Kolkata. Next year I decided to repeat it as I felt that such an effort should not die out. I decided to go solo this time as I wanted it to be Kolkata’s own festival and not under a foreign banner. I immediately found support from Tapasi and Annesha who had performed in the previous year's Fête. Tapasi and I sent out invites to different brands to host their own day long concerts while we offered to take account of networking, communication, PR, media and Band and Venue Management. All they had to do was to hold a concert at their venue for free. Numerous brands thus came together to create the second episode in 2014 which was really huge in terms of participation. Even the media supported the event with Ads and coverage for free. Close to 700 musicians performed at 7 venues for 3 days and many of them were performing for the first time. There was music from all genres and people played their own tracks as well as covers. So here we are again in 2015 with the 3rd episode. Now we are more focused on improving the quality of the event to make it a thing to reckon with. The magical thing about this event is that it is everybody’s event. A number of big and small entities come together to create this magical day of free and open music concerts. It, thus, truly becomes Music by all, of all and for all.
BongRong: Two people managing the 43 artists/bands at 3 venues within 1 day, as well as a 5-day workshop! How did you guys pull it off?
Tapasi: We were not alone on the day of the event. Even though we are the head co-ordinators of the festivals, we have a team of very enthusiastic musicians and music lovers, along with the BongRong team, who had volunteered to help us by running big and small errands and tasks selflessly, without whom executing this entire fête would have been impossible.
Saumya: Hard work and determination. But let me tell you it’s not just 2. We have one more in the team and that is Ritam, but anyway it is a gargantuan task to manage this with only a team of 3 people. It is in fact made possible by all the entities and musicians working together in one spirit for music.
BongRong: Compared to last year, how was this year's turnout and overall response to the event?
Tapasi: Compared to last year, even though we had lesser venues, the festival was much more compact and organised. The turnout was better as well and we have been getting amazing, overwhelming responses both from the audience and the performers.
Saumya: The festival has become really popular. This year, bands started to message us right from the beginning to include them. It was very encouraging. We kept a smaller number of venues because we are focusing more on quality and proper management. But the turnout was just super in all the venues and the workshops and, in fact, it was better than last year. Tapasi did a great job getting together some very well-known names in Kolkata’s music world to be instructors at the workshop and performers as well. Even a few very senior musicians with whom I was in touch with agreed to play, which was a great gift to the festival and to us. The crowd was just mad.
BongRong: Can we expect more such events in the future?
Tapasi: We run this festival on a very humble budget which is not enough to run an event this widespread. Given that we get enough sponsors, people can definitely expect events which are much bigger and better, where we can both pay the performers as well as the people working for us. Fingers crossed!
Saumya: We will keep on going.
This year, over 150 musicians will be participating from across Kolkata and an extensively versatile line-up at all three venues can be expected on the 21st. Starting from 11 am till 9 pm, veteran professionals and upcoming musical talents from the city will be entertaining you with back to back performances. So, check out the Bandlists below and decide which venue you want to drop by.
Wings of Eternity
Felt Tip Pencils
The Animal Farm
The Radical Array Project
The Overtime Project
A Short Summer
Tomb of Lucifer
Inam Hussain Mallick
The Sour Brothers
Keep an eye out for the surprise performance from 6 - 7 P.M.
Click here to join the INOX event.
The Accidental Note
Arko and Clara
Nth Time Lucky
Inam Hussain Mullick
Aidan Wyatt Syiem
International Music Day celebration will be continuing till the 29th of June with Free Workshops at Yamaha Music Square (Camac Street). With that, more musical evenings are scheduled at Jamsteady (The Princeton Club) on 24th June and 1st July and at The Doodle Room on 26th June. Click the image below to join the event and lookout for further announcements.