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Emerging And Well-Known Bands Vie For Top Honors At Annual Rock Awards

Indian alternative music across genres gets a nod of approval in the country’s longest-running awards show

Anurag Tagat Feb 17, 2014
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Sky Rabbit frontman Raxit Tewari. Photo: Monisha Ajgaonkar

Sky Rabbit frontman Raxit Tewari. Photo: Monisha Ajgaonkar

This month, the ninth edition of the Jack Daniel’s Rock Awards will honor Indian artists across 11 categories, including Best Metal Band and Best Emerg­ing Artist. The year in music will be summed up by bands from across the country ”“ from Delhi jazz act Adil & Vasund­hara to Mumbai alt rock Tough On Tobacco to Kolkata pop artist Nischay Parekh, who have all picked up nominations.

Also among this year’s nominees are Mumbai electro rockers Sky Rabbit, who released their EP Where in July last year. With five tracks in all, the EP follows up the band’s debut self-titled album, which released in 2012. Says frontman Raxit Tewari, “We were writing stuff even while the first album was being mixed so we had some tunes to start working on right after. It felt quite fluid and in sync with what we wanted to do with those tunes.” Tewari feels that “pretty much everyone” is a top contender in the five categories they’ve been nominated in ”“ the main trinity of Best Band, Best Album, Best Song as well as Best Vocalist (Male) and Best Guitarist.

Among the youngest nomi­nees in terms of both age and experience is Kolkata pop artist Nischay Parekh, who released his debut solo album Ocean, pro­duced by former BBC Maida Vale Studios’ sound engineer Miti Ad­hikari, last year. For someone who started playing live shows less than three years ago, Parekh says he’s honored that Ocean can be “on the same list as artists who have made the scene what it is.” Parekh is already working on material for his second album, which he says is “much more col­laborative” with Singh and Ad­hikari.

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Producer and sound engineer Shantanu Hudlikar, who took home the Producer of the Year award last year for his work with bands such as Mumbai rock act Split and Delhi fusion band Ad­vaita, says recognition is the best part about the JD Rock Awards. Says Hudlikar, “It’s an appre­ciation and affirmation of the music people have done. Bands are really happy to even just be nominated in the first place.” Hudlikar adds that it helps that newer bands are recognized as nominees when bigger bands take a break between albums, because “that means the scene is represented well.”

Parikrama keyboardist Subir Malik, who manages winning bands such as Advaita, says the competition last year ”“ which included Bengaluru rock band Thermal and A Quarter and rock veterans Indus Creed ”“ was “very fierce.” But Malik adds, “I’ll hope the competition gets even fierc­er, because if it’s not fierce, then we’re not making good music.”

This article appeared in the February 2014 issue of ROLLING STONE India.

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