Culture, Chaos, Creation: IndiEarth XChange 2014
Festival curators meet musicians. Media meets offbeat cinema. Venues meet new artists. Flamenco meets Kathakali. The world meets Chennai.
The third edition of IndiEarth XChange took Chennai by storm this past weekend, with a whirlwind three days at The Park Chennai that included 25 conferences/workshops, 25 music showcases from around the world, and 26 independent film screenings. Delegates from the independent music, film and media industries worldwide came together for three scintillating days of what can only be described as truly memorable – overall, the event saw a turnout of over 4000 people.
The industry oriented panel discussions were heated and thought provoking, the music performances inspiring, the film screenings engaging (with directors present to interact with the audiences) – three days of a real exchange of ideas, philosophies, artistic collaborations, and future partnerships. Perhaps what was most striking about the entire experience was the human element of being able to put a face to the different wings of the independent media, music and film industries – a face that one could engage with, thereby opening up channels for dialogue.
The music showcase performances this year were varied and vibrant, bringing together artists from different corners of the world including Reunion Island, Germany, Kuwait, Israel, Lebanon, Australia, France, India, and more – a melting pot of culture, music, and art, a space that broke down borders and unified individuals under the umbrella of independent art in all its diversity. Day 1 saw acts like The Ganesh Talkies from Kolkata with an electrifying performance that blended elements of Bollywood kitsch with alternative rock, and a powerful live show played to a receptive and energetic audience, and Bangalore based rock act Parvaaz – blending blues, rock and psychedelia with Urdu and Kashmiri lyrics. Providing a unique audio visual experience was Zahed Sultan from Kuwait, an alternative/electronic multimedia artist and producer, while musician/composer Vivek Rajagopalan from India created a stage space where various genres – including Hindustani, Carnatic, jazz and folk – seamlessly flowed into one.
Day 2’s showcases featured acts like the Kutle Khan Project playing to a packed auditorium with his invigoratingly soulful Rajasthani folk sounds; an extraordinary visual experience portrayed by Draupadi – Flamenco & Kathakali (a Spanish – Indian musical dance collaboration); Maya Kamaty from Reunion Island who left her audience spellbound with a unique cocktail of Maloya blues music blended with French and Indian sensibilities; and Yogev Haruvi from Israel with a captivating, entrancing one man didgeridoo and drum show. Until We Last from Bangalore created emotive landscapes of sound with their post rock instrumental act,while Manjari Chaturvedi from Lucknow showcased an art form unique to herself – Sufi Kathak – bringing together the subtle beauty of Sufi poetry with Indian Classical dance forms.
Day 3 highlights included Nathalie Natiembe from Reunion; The Zenpad Experience, featuring Yotam Agam, Patrick Sebag and Yoav Rosenthal gathered in a circle surrounded by their audience, creating vivid soundscapes on Ableton Live and inviting other artists and collaborators to participate; the Pepsi MTV Indie’s pick of the XChange Madboy/Mink with a sweat inducing uptempo set at the Leather Bar; Donn Bhat + Passenger Revelator presenting a fascinating experimental electronica live act; and Chennai’s Grey Shack with a generous dose of hard rock.
The film screenings were packed out to full capacity, with directors like Q (Nabarun), Gitanjali Rao (True Love Story), and Simon Broughton (Sufi Soul) all present during their films to engage in Q & A’s with the audience immediately after.
Conference sessions included Making The Space For Culture – with panelists Radhika Bordia (NDTV), Nikhil Udupa (Pepsi MTV Indies), Ajay Prabhakar (Score Magazine), Verhnon Ibrahim (Independent Media) – where Media heads addressed issues relating to creating space in their publications for non-mainstream content, receiving heated feedback and debate from the audience.
Connecting The Dots: Regional Networks proposed various ways that music markets could work together and create networks that help both artists and their related businesses – with speakers Romuald Requena (Sakifo Festival), Sonya Mazumdar (IndiEarth XChange), Gerald Seligman (Borneo World Music Expo) and Min Kim (Asia Pacific Music Meeting), while Sound Lab 2014 – in association with Border Movement and the Goethe Institut – showcased the sounds of cutting edge new producers who had been under the mentorship of Justus Köhncke and Cee from Germany. The session Waves That Changed Our World featured speakers Sastry Karra, Yotam Agam, Paul Jacob, Harold Monfils, Patrick Sebag, B. Hemanathan, Arturo Calvete, Mahesh Vinayakram, and Sonya Mazumdar sharing their vivid stories and memories of the making of the Laya Project.
A space for independent artists to express themselves, a meeting point for global individuals of the independent arts industries, a convergence of creative sectors, a melting pot for business growth; this is what XChange offers – a springboard for a dynamic future for India’s independent industries.