Media Talks Back: Amit Gurbaxani
After having spent over a decade covering and writing about music for different publications including Rolling Stone India, NH7’s IndieCision, and Time Out India – Amit Gurbaxani – currently the senior editor of online lifestyle magazine Mumbai Boss – is waist deep in India’s burgeoning independent music scene and is optimistic about its future. “The future’s so bright, we should all wear shades”, he jokes. Of course various elements are also at play to help the process along – one of which is the role you and I play as listeners and participators in this ever evolving movement we like to call ‘the scene’. “The audiences play the only role”, says Amit, “Everybody’s a potential listener – and without the audience, there is no growth. As a journalist, I can only hope people read what I write, get to know of more acts, and most importantly, check out their music”.
His blog for Rolling Stone India, titled Off The Charts, is a witty blend of personal anecdotes and satirical examinations and deconstructions of what’s topping the music charts around the world – and what this suggests about popular tastes and public opinion. We caught up more with the man about his views on the direction the Indian independent music scene is taking, the current state of music journalism in the country, and the way forward in nurturing the growth of India’s independent music culture.
IndiEarth: What is the philosophy/vision behind Mumbai Boss’ approach to music in general, and specifically Indian independent music ?
Mumbai Boss’s approach to music, which is in keeping with its approach towards culture in general, is to curate content and help readers come to know of and ultimately listen to music that we feel is worth being heard, whether at a concert or on one’s computer or iPod. Our focus is very much on Indian independent music, primarily but not only the music being created and performed in our home city.
IndiEarth: Tell us a bit about your personal relationship with music?
I’ve always loved music, from the time I remember dancing to my parent’s Boney M album and incorrectly singing the lyrics to “Brown Girl In The Ring” when I was three. I grew up in the 1980s when music wasn’t as segregated into different genres as it is today, and didn’t think it was a big deal that I loved songs by both a-ha and Iron Maiden. I don’t think I could go a day without listening to music, even if it’s just me singing to myself out of tune.
Susheela Raman’s new album ‘Queen Between’, Your Chin’s new EP ‘Scatter Nature’, Dualist Inquiry’s new compilation ‘Subterra’.
Indie music is perhaps being written about more than it has ever been before. The scope for growth lies in the quality of the content and the discourse, where editors and journalists publish stories about Indian indie not because it’s trendy but because it’s a valuable and valid art form.
IndiEarth: What should be the ideal relationship between members of the media, and independent musicians and artists?
That’s murky territory. I’m old-school, I don’t believe journalists and musicians can be friends if their integrity is not to be compromised. I realise I’m an exception, but also believe that you can maintain a healthy, mutually enriching relationship with a musician without being on back-slapping terms.
IndiEarth: What are your observations of music journalism in India? Where is there scope for development?
There isn’t really a strong culture of music journalism here at least with regard to the Indian indie scene. It’s growing but it’s very much in its infancy. We’re at a stage where there are new sites and magazines launching on a regular basis, but the quantity isn’t matched in terms of quality. There’s huge scope for development, starting with every writer keeping a dictionary at their side when they write (for the record, that’s something I do; I’m not being facetious).
IndiEarth: What do you see for the future of the independent music scene in India – and what are the obstacles/challenges that perhaps stand in the way of its growth?
The future’s so bright, we should all wear shades 😛 The obstacles and challenges are the ones that the music world at large is facing (limited streams of revenues), and some that are specific to India and places with emerging independent music scenes (lack of infrastructure).