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JBABE and Kayan Amongst Indian Artists At SXSW’s Online Music Festival This Year

In addition to a showcase by Mumbai artist agency Third Culture, New Delhi’s Pagal Haina will also host indie rockers The F16s and singer-songwriter Rounak Maiti

Rolling Stone India Mar 15, 2021

Chennai-based Josh Fernandez aka JBABE and Mumbai-based Ambika Nayak aka Kayan will perform short sets at SXSW 2021's online music festival showcase. Photos: Courtesy of Third Culture (JBABE), Ronit Sarkar (Kayan)

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Although each year brings new innovation and art to the front at South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin, Texas, the pandemic has understandably meant that one of the biggest American events for music, technology, film and art will also move to host an online edition. 

Held between March 16th and March 20th Central Time, SXSW shines a light on Indian indie music once again this year, following what is nearly a decade-long connect that has seen artists perform in the midst of a bustling festival atmosphere in Austin. Two Indian music companies have been tapped for showcases as part of the five-day music festival – Mumbai’s Third Culture Entertainment and New Delhi’s Pagal Haina.

Chennai producer-singer and guitarist JBABE aka Josh Fernandez and Mumbai singer-producer Kayan aka Ambika Nayak will perform on March 19th, between 2 AM to 2:30 AM IST as part of the Third Culture showcase. Chennai indie rock band The F16s (which Fernandez is also a part of) and singer-songwriter Rounak Maiti will perform as part of the Pagal Haina showcase on March 21st, between 5:30 AM and 6 AM IST. A press release by the festival notes that showcases must be viewed when they air. For passholders in the eastern hemisphere (or early risers in the western), the schedule repeats over the next 12-hour cycle.

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The four artists’ set time will be 12 and a half minutes each, with the performance broadcast to the wandering virtual audiences who have registered for the festival. Nayak adds in her statement, “SXSW has always been a festival I’ve wanted to attend or of course play at, the diversity that comes through is absolutely exciting and to be a part of that is thrilling! I’m grateful that it’s still taking place digitally and I am looking forward to our performance.”

Fernandez says in his statement, “SXSW for me is like the Olympics for independent music so my hearts filled with gratitude to be able represent my country and grace your digital screens after having discovered so many of my favorite artists through SXSW.”

While Pagal Haina have had artists such as singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad showcased at SXSW in 2016, The F16s were invited to perform at the 2020 edition, which was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic. For Third Culture, however, this is the first time they’re partnering with SXSW for a showcase. Founder and managing director Tej Brar says, “This is one more small, yet significant, step towards showcasing Indian talent on the global stage. We’re thankful for the showcase opportunity and look forward to continuing to work closely with SXSW.”

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Register to attend SXSW here.

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