Carlton Braganza on Why Playing Daily Online Gigs During the Lockdown Was The Best Thing Ever
“Try something new. If it works, great! If it doesn’t, try something else,” says the Bengaluru musician
Whether you’re an indie music buff or someone who digs good old rock’n’roll, you couldn’t have missed Carlton Braganza flooding your social media timelines this lockdown. Seated in his bedroom wearing headphones and armed with a mic, the Bengaluru musician has been running a music marathon ever since corona hit the country. What started as just another glitchy house gig turned into a movement in no time as Braganza consistently home-delivered nostalgic hits, ranging everything from classic rock gems to balmy jazz standards.
Braganza’s indomitable efforts to pull off a daily gig didn’t go unnoticed by leading brands either – and at a time when musicians were still struggling to figure a way to monetize gigs, he was able to put in place a robust model with Jukebox Jammies, his request-based music show.
“We’ve had over 1.5 million views and 6 million minutes watched on Facebook. I started this to keep myself amused. I would’ve lost my mind if I didn’t have something to do. It’s just a bonus that people took to it and it became larger than what I thought it would be,” says Braganza.
You’ve had a roaring, incredibly busy lockdown with your daily gigs and online shows. Tell us how it’s been for you so far?
I keep singing this BeeGees song, “I started a joke that started the whole world laughing”… It’s really been that. I don’t know when I last stayed put in a certain place in the last couple of years – been on the road traveling gigging entertaining and being entertained. I made it back from Colombo on the last flight before the airports shut (would’ve been pretty happy to have spent my lockdown there). I got here and Modi announced his janta curfew, that evening I went online for a lark saying I’d do a one-hour nightly request show till I get out of my bedroom. Really, at the time I didn’t think it would be more than a week to 10 days) and hence the name Jukebox Jammies!
The lockdown went from days to weeks to months, and people held me to my word. Me, having nothing better to do, went with it! From a handful of people that initially showed up, I was told last week that we’ve had over 1.5 million views and 6 million minutes watched on Facebook. (I don’t even understand those numbers!) It’s been an incredible ride:124 episodes, 6 million minutes on Facebook, 1.5 million views on Facebook and YouTube, 900K engagements, 2000 songs sung in total, 1000+ unique songs, 160 hours of programming!
We’ve had guests like Usha Uthup, Gary Lawyer, Devraj Sanyal, Suneeta Rao and even collaborated with The Jive Aces, UK’s leading swing band. But the best part is the feel good factor — the number of people that have connected to friends and communities, and the charities that we have managed to raise money for.
How challenging or easy has it been to stick to a routine and ensure the gigs keep going without fail? Were there days you wanted to just cancel a show and sleep in or chill out?
(Laughs) I guess everyone has those days, but honestly, I started this to keep myself amused. I would’ve lost my mind if I didn’t have something to do. It’s just a bonus that people took to it and it became larger than what I thought it would be I learnt in those pretty early days (I must have been around the 40th or 50th night) when I went online and said that I really didn’t wanna get online today. The outpouring that ensued of cakes and flowers and food and letters and poems and mothering and what not made me say it’s easier to suck it up and deal with a bleh day than with this kind of attention!
As an artist, what are the new things you have learned or discovered about yourself during the lockdown?
Oh my god, it’s been one hell of a learning curve. As someone who really feeds off a live audience to stare into a blank screen, the idea of an online gig was alien.
From those early days of going online from a phone and a Bluetooth speaker to figuring out sound and tech, and broadcast and production values (I’ve had super support of friends who came forward) I’ve always been pushing the envelope. I don’t think any show in these 124 days wasn’t an improvement on the previous one
Are you working on your own music? What’s the plan for the coming few months?
That’s the plan… but it always gets last priority. I can’t plan. It’s my biggest problem, which works well in todays ever changing situation. I adapt and deal with the situation that’s presented to me. I’m not sure what the world will be in the coming few months. If it opens up, I’ll be on the first flight out of here. If it doesn’t Il’l figure out something to amuse myself (and a few others along the way)!
What’s your message to budding musicians who are missing performing on stage and cribbing about that online?
Nobody misses it more than I do, but it’s all in the head, really. A screaming audience is replaced by a screaming comment section (6000 comments on an average on an hour-long gig is just insane!). The same on-ground principles apply–to connect and entertain. If you are good at what you do, you will see results. There is really no point sitting and waiting for the world to open up, what if it never does! Change your thinking. Try something new. If it works, great! If it doesn’t, try something else.