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Humans of Music: Documenting Untold Stories

How two Mumbai professionals got together to start a powerful photo-blog that has featured 110 musicians so far

Varshita Ramesh May 10, 2017
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Humans Of Music artwork by Hanisha Tirumalasetty

When Brandon Stanton began his world-famous Facebook page, Humans of New York, in 2010, nobody expected it to blow up into the incredibly successful photo-blog it is today. The concept of Humans of New York, now also a book, was to capture the essence of the city with every street portrait and interview Stanton collected. Since the birth of the project, people all around the world have started similar photo-blogs for their own respective countries and cities.

Closer home, a Mumbai-based duo started a photo-blog last year, titled Humans of Music to offer a platform for musicians to share their stories. Aneesha Kotwani met the other half of Humans of Music, DJ and producer Nicky Ramnani, in 2013, when she signed him to her event management agency, Regenerate. Their association led to the birth of the social media initiative which chronicles personal, and often untold, tales narrated by artists. “The floor is open to anyone and everyone who is involved in the music space,” Kotwani says, claiming that though the majority of the interviewees have been musicians, they have also conversed with artist managers and light and sound engineers.

In the past one year, Humans of Music have featured 110 stories comprising 20 international artists. These include everyone from the promising Mumbai singer-songwriter Shubhangi Joshi, who spoke of the challenges women performers face in India, while also referencing the Women’s Special edition of #RollingWith, to Brano Jakubovi (keys/sampler with Bosnian band Dubioza Kolektiv) who shared his personal journey of making music in a country ravaged by war and political unrest.

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Documenting such stories is no mean feat, and Ramnani and Kotwani often meet with their fair share of challenges. “It’s just the two of us, and we’re not great photographers ourselves,” says Ramnani. “We don’t want to get sponsors for our social media pages to gain more likes because we want them to be organic. We are banking on our intimate and inclusive style of gigs, the merchandise and the festivals we can collaborate with.”

The duo are currently planning on recruiting more people they can trust to carry out interviews in their own cities. “We don’t believe in Skype calls or phone interviews. But sometimes we are forced to do so because the artist is not in the same city,” says Kotwani, adding, “Hence, it would be cool to work with people from Bengaluru, New Delhi, Chennai and other cities, so that the scope for a bigger audience is increased.” 

Last month, Humans of Music celebrated their first anniversary with a series of eight gigs featuring across India. Ramnani and Kotwani also made their debut with a bunch of festivals in the past few months, such as Bengaluru’s Echoes of The Earth, Morapada’s Nariyal Paani, GOAT in Goa and Nashik’s Sula Fest. Their next big plan is to travel across Asia and eventually cover the biggest music festivals in the world. 

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Access the Humans of Music Facebook page here .

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