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Indian Electronica at C/O Pop

Ralph Christoph, DJ and festival director of the Cologne Pop festival down in India hunting for electronica acts

Lalitha Suhasini Jul 10, 2008
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Bajirao Pawar

India is going to be bigger than just a dot on the music map. April saw Brit producer John Leckie scouting for local talent. Ralph Christoph, German DJ and festival director of Cologne Pop (C/O Pop) festival came down in May to check out the Indian electronica sparks. Cologne is one of the biggest platforms to support the genre, and Christoph hopes to feature a couple of Indian artists in the 2009 C/O Pop Festival. Excepts from an interview:

Electronica’s currently quite huge on the Indian music scene. What worked for you here?

I actually checked out Shaa’ir+Func before I got here because they have a MySpace profile. They sound brilliant and are at an international level. Jalebee Cartel are quite outstanding too. They have a DJ side and a live side. They work professionally with a manager. I’ve just packed off tonnes of other music. I haven’t listened to the stuff yet so I don’t know their names. Musicians have also been giving me their music in various cities. [Christoph toured Karachi, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata.] They were really interested in presenting their music. It seems to me that I was the first one to do this. I don’t think that I’ve missed any important Indian electronica music artist.

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What does it take to get a break internationally?

The main point is nobody knows about Indian electronica. It’s important to break through locally first. I’ve noticed that there’s a huge lack of structure here. Electronica is still a niche. The fusion market exists already internationally. There’ve been DJs like Nitin Sawhney who’ve already done the Indian thing, so it’s important for Indian electronica acts to do something totally different.

What do you mean by lack of structure?

Delhi has a bad structure for live music – everything is in the suburbs and nothing in the inner city. So Delhiites are hungry for new stuff. It’s quite surprising that there no place worth going that didn’t play just Bollywood stuff. So there’s much talent but no places to go. The club scene in Hyderabad is much better. You find better DJs in Bangalore but better clubs in Hyderabad. Bangalore has clubs but everything has to close by 11 pm.

What kind of talent are you looking to promote at C/O Pop?

We’re always looking for fresh talent and it doesn’t matter where it’s coming from as long as it’s interesting. It doesn’t have to be pure electronic music. It could even be focussing on independent structures. I’m researching structures to see how they work here, how they would work in Europe and how different cultures can interact. Of course we will bring Indian musicians to Cologne but it depends on budgets. We’re not just a platform for artists but for agents, bookers and the music-related industry in general.

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Will there be a recording project as well?

This is something that bands have to figure out. Recording and production is not the main focus of the future. You can record at home. Playing live is the main thing ”“ selling music is not ”“ that’s over.

You also met Bollywood composers such as Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.

To be honest, that was for personal interests. Once you’re here, you have to speak to them. They may not be known in Germany but here they’re superstars. I talked to them especially about the market ”“ the sales and target group. They asked for contacts of good German techno producers because even they are bored of the dance tracks that are made by the Indian dance communities for clubs. They knew a lot about our music as well. They knew bands such as Kraftwerk.

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