Control Alt Delete: Dropping Ennui Bombs
Rishu Singh. A music lover, entrepreneur, artist manager, pioneer of the independent music scene, and a father – someone who doesn’t know him would never realise that this one down-to-earth, no frills kind of guy could have so much packed in.
Known for his massive role in introducing Indian audiences to the independent music scene, Rishu is the co-founder of ennui.BOMB – an independent music label directed at artist management, gig programming, and production of a series of independent music compilations called Stupid Ditties – along with his wife Aditi Ghosalkar. He is also one third of the brains behind Control Alt Delete – one of the biggest nights in the independent music scene in India.
In a two-part interview, IndiEarth spoke to Rishu just before the latest edition of Control Alt Delete (CAD) on the 14th of September.
IndiEarth – Control Alt Delete. Tell us about it.
Rishu Singh – Control Alt Delete was basically a concept started by Himanshu Vaswani (from Bajaao). He did the first two gigs, which were Pay What You Want at this underground venue in Mumbai called B69. That’s where I discovered Blek for the first time, that’s when I knew I wanted to work with a band like that. I knew Himanshu because we worked together, and this concept was brilliant. I don’t think I’d been for a show where it was a Pay What You Want kind of a scene.
I was going to do a Stupid Ditties which more or less had the same bands that Himanshu would program for a Control Alt Delete. Nikhil Udupa (from NH7) got involved from their side because they wanted to support this whole culture. Eventually the three of us registered the name as a legitimate company, where the intention was to combine our energies and do it together. Which is where the concept came from, and is also when we kicked off Control Alt Delete 3 – the first one we did together.
IE – The last show of Control Alt Delete was a tremendous success. How did you put out everything transparently about how much the bands would get, and how much you would get?
RS – It was a superb success. We had ten bands performing – that was where Your Chin’s debut gig, Unohu and all these bands got their big breaks. Each band walked away with around Rs. 7,300. And considering it was in Sitara Studios, which has no infrastructure – so we had to make a stage, we had to get the light and sound and get all of that sorted – after all that payment, bands still walked away with that much money, which was fabulous.
The 4th edition is where we made a loss – the same people in the indie scene with a general lackadaisical attitude towards music and not so big names. That’s when we started really doing something, because there weren’t any great metal concerts happening on a regular basis. Which is why we said, ‘Okay we should focus our energies on doing the best metal concert Mumbai’s ever seen and make it an annual affair’. So every year now we are looking at doing two Control Alt Delete shows – one will be around May, which will be a metal edition, next one will happen around September, which will be an alternative one. The response from the metal community is insane, I really think that community has so much passion, so much energy and so much great vibes. It’s none of the bulls*** ‘be seen at cool things’ kind of an attitude that snobbish music audiences have. It’s generally a very heartwarming vibe and we have pictures of the line outside and it reminded me of the Rang Bhavan times.
The support from everyone was really mad – BlueFrog cancelled their brunch, Shikhar (Manchanda) from Reverrse Polarity graciously offered his terrace to host the after party, Budweiser came in with free beers and no request for branding or anything – they just wanted to support this. Everyone contributed, and bands walked away with Rs. 8,500 which is the highest they have walked away with so far. Mumbai got to see Undying Inc. after maybe four or five years. It was insane. It was touching, heartwarming and superb to see people appreciating what we do and in the right sense. The three of us aren’t going to walk away with any money, so at least getting your efforts recognised and making sure the money is reaching the right people (which is the artist) – it was superb.
IE – That’s great to hear, Rishu. What are you expecting on Sunday, 14th September?
RS – I expect great music, that’s for sure. All these eight bands are bands who are not only good, but they have….that DIY ethic of ‘doing it yourself’ kind of a vibe. They are all on their feet, they are all working hard, they’re all doing something by going out of their comfort zone, doing something for their music, putting it out like nobody else does. Like The Ganesh Talkies doesn’t have a manager, but getting an album recorded by Miti Adhikari costs money and these are kids who are doing it. So our intention is to showcase not only younger, finer musicians who are doing great music, but also who are doing something for themselves, rather than just sit and wait for everyone to take them and get them noticed. So from Sunday, what I’m expecting is a superb set. Eight beautiful bands. I don’t know how much I’ll get to see of that, but it’ll be great. That’s what I’m expecting for sure. Plus, it’s the Stupid Ditties 8 launch as well.
IE – You’re also hosting the show this time. What is your message to everyone?
RS – The message is that I think that people should step out for gigs, which don’t have the same five names playing all over. There are six bands performing here that are from out of the city. You’ll never get to see them together, I can guarantee you that. And being industry professionals – Nikhil, Himanshu and I – we really believe that. For a sponsored gig, it’s a very comfortable process. But right now my artists are coming down by train, the Bangalore boys are coming down by bus. You wouldn’t get that kind of a commitment for a sponsored gig. This is entirely their vibe. They’re doing it for the vibe and the experience. I think people should support that. I think people should come out for gigs. I think people should see new artists who are performing and who are doing good. Because these are the big names of day after tomorrow. These are the kids who are going to kill it then. Might as well catch them when they’re young and start putting their money where their mouths are. And when it comes to seeing a band performing live, we have spoiled audiences. You can’t just pay something for big bands – you should pay something for the kids also.