THE BLOG
04/02/2013 09:05 am ET | Updated Jun 02, 2013

Report From Chennai: Independent Music in India and Indian Ocean (Video)

I first became acquainted with Sonya Mazumdar as a voice at one end of a U.S.-India Skype session about the licensing of "Laya Project," a dazzling musical journey around the areas devastated by the massive 2004 tsunami. The newly formed Indian production company and record label EarthSync India had just released the film as its first endeavor. The haunting travelogue garnered honors over the intervening years, and when EarthSync launched its spinoff website, IndiEarth Sonya contacted me again to see if I would allow their site to stream some of my relevant videoblogs. But of course I would!

Then, many months later (yet still rather suddenly) came an invitation from Sonya to attend the first IndiEarth XChange in Chennai. Rarely one to refuse an invitation to a new place, I found myself taking the long trip to Southeast India, to report on another maiden voyage from the young, pioneering Earthsync/IndiEarth. This time it was a meeting of international and local media, with film screenings and musical performances, along with panel discussions and networking to be held at the Park Chennai Hotel. It was an ambitious project (intended to be a prototype) requiring its own networking and funding, plus massive coordination. The aim was to lay the foundation for a network of dedicated professionals supporting independent music and cinema in India.

It was a hectic three days, and the large turnout participated in vigorous panels about the obstacles and opportunities for music and film in Southeast Asia and Oceania, as well as the remarkably varied musical fare. What made it exciting for me, was the un-Western media presence. Aside from Indian, there was a significant Australian media contingent. In particular, the magnificently feisty Kate Welsman an Australian Public Radio deejay was quick to point out that there was a noticeable shift in markets of all kinds from West to East, and music was a part of that market. It made sense. At the same time it was also made clear by both the musicians and film-makers, that the audience demographics for Southeast Asia needed to be cultivated, and weaned away from a straight diet of Bollywood, which still holds the business reins in a rigidly controlled grip.

For my part, I ran around taking as much video as I could, and focusing of course, on music. But I simply could not catch it all. So what you are seeing in my video is just a wee fraction of the music that was performed in the lobby, bar, main stage and other impromptu venues.

Report from Chennai: Independent Music in India and Indian Ocean from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

In all, I was very excited by the spirit of IndiEarth Exchange. The people who were gathered together were bright, creative, energetic and pro-active. I felt challenged and stimulated, as well as entertained. I believe something will come from this. It may not come immediately, but it will come.

For more information about EarthSync India, visit earthsync.com

For the complete performance of song by Parvathy and Lakshman Das Baul go to:
inter-muse.com/blog/2013/03/16/parvathy-das-baul-and-lakshman-das-baul-at-indiearth-xchange/

For complete song by Karthick Iyer, go to:
inter-muse.com/blog/2013/02/20/karthick-iyer-at-indiearth-xchange/

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