Culture Quake at IOMMA & Sakifo 2013

There’s something to be said for tectonic shifts despite their underlying notion of destructiveness. They created the world as we know it today and it seems the time for others might be ripe. We mean this in a purely constructive sense of course. Masses of different countries shifting base only to come together with others. And what if we were to apply this same metaphorical context to the more disorganised music industries that plague the richer cultures of countries such as India and Mauritius, to name but a few? They’re usually the ones bursting at the seams with talent and potential but artists miss out on the development opportunities available to others from more cohesive music markets.


This issue, in a nutshell, is what the 3rd edition of IOMMA 2013 set out to tackle and the discussions and solutions that came about as a result were incredibly positive to say the least. Here’s a brief summarization of what went down:

Nothing about the atmosphere at the 3-day conferences felt remotely forced or market-like despite its larger aim being to ‘develop international business.’ It belies the genuine passion and musical love witnessed right from the get go. Industry professional from artists to labels to festival organisers and more came together from a range of different countries – India, Australia, South Africa, Tanzania, China, Canada, UK, USA, Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar etc. – and though the links and networks that were established right through the Indian Ocean were plentiful, it came about entirely naturally.

Stimulating panel discussions saw veterans of all the above-mentioned countries provide insight on a barrage of relevant topics such as their programming and promotion techniques, expanding existing tour circuits and more. This year, EarthSync – a partner to IOMMA through its Indian music and film market IndiEarth XChange – brought a strong ‘India Focus’ to the conferences, with several of these discussions India-centric.

The 14-member Indian delegation led by EarthSync proved to be the perfect choice to voice the current status and issues revolving around the Indian Music Market including its presentations, insight into what to expect from tours in India and even music creation in India. Often, these two-hour long dialogues led not only to detailed scrutiny of the status of India’s market, but also to feasible solutions and an overall encouraging atmosphere for international artists who want to enter the Indian market to tour. Touring India was a focus point, with many discussions increasing the possibilities of collaborations between international and Indian artists – both traditional and non-traditional.


Each evening after the conference sessions, IOMMA showcased definitive music performances. The opening night saw the likes of beautifully polychromatic Reunion local, Yaelle Trules take the stage introducing us to the world of reunion-styled percussion, something we were to be forming a long and loving relationship with in the days to come. Mauritian band Patyatann too performed a captivating set right after. In the following days’ showcases artists such as Regiz Gizavo, Teta, Damily, Urbain Phileas, Maya Kamaty and Tricodpo who represented the more traditional styles of music from Madagascar’s Tsapiky to Reunion’s own Maloya.

On the other hand, more modernistic bands such as The Brother Moves On (South Africa), Nova Heart (China), Psychorigid (Reunion), Kingfisha, Electric Empire, True Live representing Australia and India’s own Teddy Boy Kill delivered some incredibly riveting performances. Genres ranged from psychedelic rock to jazz-infused hip-hop to electro indie pop and reggae to name but a few. The venues too were exquisite ranging from indoor theatres with stunning acoustics to outdoor stages and warehouses.

Simply put, IOMMA 2013 was a wonderful assault on all the senses. Best of all, despite the fact that we have a long and cumbersome road ahead, the people within the industry are driving it with a single-minded focus that will see more far-reaching results soon.

The three days of intense discussions and networking all culminated in Ile de La Reunion’s largest music festival, Sakifo (Sakifo Records). The festival is a platform for musicians from different backgrounds with emphasis given to those in the southern hemisphere (Madagascar, Reunion, South Africa, Australia). The  gorgeous location and the impeccable design of the festival was striking. Spread across six stages, each had a unique feel to it. With headliners like Manu Chao, Nathalie Natiembe, Selah Sue and Fefe, the festival drew in over 20,000 people from all over the island and surrounding islands but main acts aside, Sakifo also showcased a host of other smaller acts (often traditional and local musicians) including Teddy Boy Kill’s neoteric electronica from India which was very well-received.

It was particularly interesting to note that most acts had a substantial audience despite never having heard the music before. Not to mention, the Réunionnais youth’s evident support and love for the local musicians, especially Maloyan legends like Ziskakan, Christine Salem and Alex Sorres to name a few, was beautiful to witness. This is definitely a place where culture is cherished and nurtured by all its people.

Through the 3-day festival, a traditional shack on the festival grounds played traditional Maloya music, with instruments for sale, and an informal area to interact with the musicians. On the last day, in true Sakifo tradition, the festival’s dedication to promoting Maloya was underlined by including a morning stage dedicated solely to Maloyan artists. Regardless of the heat of the sharp morning sun, families and festival goers gathered in thousands to sing along and dance to the irresistible Maloya rhythms.

Coming down from the festival high, it’s easy to spot the subtle developments behind Sakifo’s resounding success over the years. One realizes that despite the chaos and confusion within the industry, the musical talent of the region has managed to gain a firm foothold. Better still, people from all over the world are responding to it with equal amounts of respect and vigour. Perhaps then the moment is just right to bring more such regional and world music out onto larger, international platforms and celebrate them the way they deserve to be.

Goodbye Sakifo 2013 from L’Azenda on Vimeo.

An IndiEarth Exclusive by Mandovi Menon and Mana Dhanraj



IndiEarth is an online B2B platform that connects India’s non-mainstream independent Musicians and Filmmakers to worldwide Media. The platform features a blog, offers value-added services and wider opportunity networks through its partnerships. IndiEarth is an EarthSync Initiative.

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