Media Talks Back – Mae Mariyam Thomas

Finding outlets that facilitate airplay for independent musicians within the context of the mainstream media in India is often like trying to find a needle in a haystack. As more artists grow increasingly frustrated with the lack of mainstream media outlets that promote independent expression – every now and again, there are exceptions to the rule. Radio One has relegated the Thursday late night show (10 pm – 1 am) to Indian independent music – and their producer, Mae Mariyam Thomas, tells us more about pushing alternative sounds within the context of mainstream radio. “I do have control of what gets played out on the indie show”, she begins. “However, I am still under the purview of the larger music policy of the station. So there is a certain bandwidth of music I can play, and anything outside of that, I can’t. For instance I can’t play anything that is too heavy, e.g. hardcore death/thrash metal, and I can’t play anything that is too mellow or ambient.”

Though the nature of the revenue-oriented structure of the mainstream media often promotes mass consumption and Top 40-esque commercialism, what can often make a difference in facilitating change and promoting musical diversity, is the individuals behind the institutions. If these individuals in positions of programming power are like-minded and independently spirited, loopholes can inevitably be created to promote independent artistry.

 “I try my best to be open-minded and incorporate as many different kinds of independent music as I can. Also, there may be particular songs that our music manager likes, or there are some artists that have got daytime airplay, like Indus Creed, The Colour Compound or Duncun Rufus,” continues Mae. “You can’t escape playing popular music, whether vintage or contemporary. However, as I had mentioned earlier you can try and incorporate indie artists in small ways, like a ‘Song of the Day’, or an ‘Artist of the Week’. One of my favourite aspects of radio is also the studio session – bringing musicians in to perform, and create newer and interesting renditions of their music. I continue to play such segments on air because there is a raw edge to a radio’s studio session as compared to a studio-produced album version. I am proud to say that Radio One is, I think, the only radio station that has a national independent music show – it plays across seven cities, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad, and Kolkata.”

Here’s a playlist curated by Mae – showcasing her pick of some of the country’s most exciting artists at the moment.


“Laxmi Bomb is such a great combination of artists, with a sound that is a weird coming together of Bollywood kitsch and electro pop/reggae/funk. I heard this song live at a performance at Hard Rock Cafe Worli, in Mumbai. It was love at first listen, and I pestered the band to send me this tune before its release.”


The F16s have been canonised to sainthood. They can do no wrong. Since their first song Lightbulbs released, you can’t help but bask in the halo of their awesomeness. This tune is from their latest EP, Nobody’s Gonna Wait, which was produced in Brooklyn by Aaron Bastinelli (who has worked with the likes of Grandmaster Flash, The Roots, Mark Foster, Bono, Matt And Kim).”


Starting off as a solo project, David Abraham has always given me a sense that there is so much that is unexplored in the spectrum of the indie scene. His first album, One Last Monsoon, reminded me so much of Canadian indie rockers, The Stills. And he defeated the second-album-let-down by diving into more unexplored and rockier territory. This is a particular fav of mine.” (Visit The Koniac Net’s website here.)


“Having heard Basrur excel in the rock, punk and metal space for acts like Goddess Gagged and Kinki Ski Munkey. He’s broadened his horizons to more stripped down acoustic acts like Bones For Bertie and electronic scape with Okakifreak. This particular number has him collaborating on a very UK garage/house track with Sanaya Ardheshir aka Sandunes.”


“Who would have thought you’d find a surfer punk band in the landlocked city of Pune, but Doctor Zebra seems to break the mold. Helmed by surfer dude Jay K, with his band of merrymen, it’s fun to just let your hair down and dance like you’re having a fit to this particularly speedy punk track.”


“The northeast is a blossoming field of jaw-dropping indie marvels, and this particular band I discovered at a Live From The Console gig at Mehboob Studios. It sprinkles the perfect blend of angst, lovelorn and repetitive guitar riffing, to summon the spirit of Third Eye Blind, Eve 6 and Tonic.” (Visit their Facebook page here.)


“Nucleya doesn’t need any explanation. He is sitting on the brink of an electronica Armageddon as he leads his army to a battle of carefree abandon and psychotic vibration, shouting his war cry “F**K That S**T”. However, this track I have a particular inclination towards as it’s a step down from his in-your-face beats & bass, and instead teeters on the back foot with a bit more reggaeton gyration.” (Visit Delhi Sultanate’s Facebook page here.)

“Another singer-songwriter who never ceases to explore the far reaches of the indie Indian horizons is Kishore Krishna. Though he seems to be in hibernation currently, this album, Songs From An Island, was poetic. Entreaty has some of my favourite lyrics:

“Your fear of judgement will see you well
Acclimatised to this charade
That none of us escapes, ‘cos
When you think about it,
The middle of the barrel isn’t as bad as the bottom can be”

And I especially love Prabhu Muralee’s fiery antics on the drums. While the lyrics take you on a linear journey, the drum beats seem erratic in comparison moving from a delightful skip to a galloping horse to a rhythmic stutter.” (Visit their Facebook page here.)


“This song of Sky Rabbit‘s braids all the placid elements of electro and rock to create a harmonious vibration of sound that makes you want to sway and twirl in slow motion, only to be lulled into a state of trance with the drawl and baritone timbre of Raxit Tewari’s vocals. I fell in love with this tune while lying on the grass at the Eristoff Wolves Den at NH7 Weekender in 2011.”

Compared to the likes of Bonobo, Tankbund plays and experiments with ambient electronica, and Ritvik De seems to have explored more of his vocal range in Inside. Also, a cowbell is something I cannot get enough of, and this tune kicks off with some brilliant cowbell artistry.”


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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