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Striking the Right Chord

As opportunities are multiplying in our flourishing music industry, our indie-musicians have a fair share to deal with. There have been some great things that have resulted from this growth but along with that, have come a fair share of apprehensions and concerns. We catch up with one of India’s most revered guitarists and a legend in the music scene – Mahesh Tinaikar. Having been at the core of bands like Rock Machine and Indus Creed to the fairly recent Whirling Kalapas, Mahesh has seen things change for better and worse.

Photo courtesy Mahesh Tinaikar

Mahesh is known for his composure both on and off stage. Always holding his own, he seems immersed in each note he plays off his guitar. Tucked away in his home studio in a quaint Colaba house, he spends most of his day writing and composing music, doing his best to bring good music to listening ears. In a decade where bands are literally crawling out of the woodwork and almost anyone we meet is making music, Mahesh believes there is one thing that separates the wheat from the chaff and that is conviction. “There is no really ‘good’ or ‘bad’ music but it’s important that one stays true to oneself and creates/performs music with conviction. Getting into a space just because it seems more popular or lucrative can be very transparent,” he believes.

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A lot has changed for the Indian music scene in the last decade. Festivals have taken shape, multiplying entertainment options for music-lovers in every city. The rise in the number of big international acts performing in India is fairly evident. When asked if this is a good thing for indie-musicians here, Mahesh says “Am not really sure if it has been for better or for worse but it definitely has impacted the scene. Obviously, the exposure to classy professional acts has benefited the local talent but the down side is that people tend to get jaded too.” He also feels that the easy access to “top-notch” artists has made it difficult for local acts to get support from audiences wearing the “been there, seen it” attitude. Speaking of the never-ending squabble over who gets to open and close for a headlining act, Mahesh feels the opening and closing acts are part of the economy of live entertainment. One helps the promoter by way of warming up the crowd while the other simmers things down and ties the entire show together to give it a conclusive end.

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In a day and age where an artist/band is gauged by their “live act”, it becomes a matter of debate whether showmanship takes precedence over musical content at a live gig. In response to this, Mahesh articulately states, “This is very subjective – it all depends. It would be a perfect world if musicianship and showmanship excelled in equal parts, but that rarely happens”.

Wrapping up our little tete-a-tete, I ask the obvious question – what is the biggest problem that plagues indie-musicians in 2013? Pat comes the reply – “We need more live venues. Venues which are geared for live performances, with state of the art music and light equipment. Also, more responsible festival organizers who actually know what they are doing. Currently we have just a handful and although they are very efficient, monopoly in any industry is detrimental.” We couldn’t agree more.

Photos courtesy: Mahesh Tinaikar

Priyanka Blah

Priyanka Blah

Priyanka Blah's professional career spans over 7 years as a content writer, journalist, curator and voice over artist having worked with renowned companies like Rolling Stone India, Rave magazine and Ogilvy. She is also the vocalist and songwriter of Tempo Tantrick, a musical duo who blend Funk, Electonica and Break Beat with their own cultural influences.

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