Kochi Gets Two New Venues
Papaya CafÃ©’s Under The Tree and Springr Studio are the newest additions to the city’s performance space
Earlier this month, Mumbai saw one of its busiest gig nights on a weekday with eight gigs across various venues despite the monsoon, or as bands would describe it, the beginning of the off season. Off season or not, few cities can boast of a similarly packed gig calendar. Kochi is no exception. Rahul Gandhi, manager of bands such as Kerala thrash metallers Chaos, Baiju Dharamajan Syndicate and Motherjane guitarist SanthoshÂ Chandran’s solo project among others, says that Kochi doesn’t even figure on his roadmap when he’s organizing gigs. Says Gandhi, “I’ve handled Motherjane from 2003-2008 and our first show was at IIT-Delhi. Â I look after three Kerala bands now, but it’s cities such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kerala, where we look to perform.” While Kochi has its share of music enthusiasts, the city is lacking in venues and as Gandhi puts it, “It probably isn’t economically viable for bands to perform here.”
While EDM artists from across the country including Midival PunditzÂ have found takers in local venues Â such as Casino, Ramada Resorts’ Qube Sound Bar and Dream Hotel, Kochi’s rock and alternative musicians have complained about the lack of performance spaces for long. Says John Thomas, drummer of Kochi band, Motherjane, who last played in the city in 2012,Â “We don’t have a Blue Frog here and though there are a lot of venues that could hold gigs, the organizers are probably skeptical about the turnout.”Â That, however, is likely with the two newly-opened venues, Cafe Papaya and Springr Studio.
The one month-old Cafe Papaya,Â set up by Malayalam production house OPM and design studio, Papaya Media, already organized a jam night when it opened shop in June. In August, Motherjane drummer Thomas and Avial’s Rex Vijayan are likely to take stage for a jam session. “The full artist lineup is yet to be confirmed, but the space is great for acoustic gigs and jams,” says Thomas. Cafe Papaya’s owners hope to turn the space into a hub for both musicians and filmmakers based in Kochi. Says scriptwriter Abhilash Kumar, one of the founders of the venue, “It’s music and movies that brought us all together, made us stick with each other and helped us reach where we are now. Papaya CafÃ© is about music, movies and mocha in the same order of priority.”Â Besides gigs and jam sessions, CafÃ© Papaya also plans to showcase works by photographers, host movie screenings and guitar/drum clinics.
In the coming months, CafÃ© Papaya’s performance area, titled Under The Tree, is also likely to set the stage for collaborations featuring music producers and directors from the Malayalam film industry. In June, Cafe Papaya kicked off with an acoustic jam featuringÂ Motherjane vocalist Vivek Thomas, who teamed up with guitarist Vivian Varghese from Trivandrum-based folk rock band Vidwan. The venue will soon host performances by film composers such Ousepachan, Â Alphonse Joseph and Stephan Devassy among others.
Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Kochi in Mattancherry, another new venue has been slowly bringing similar collaborations to stage.Â Sanjeev Thomas, formerly of Chennai’s Rainbow Bridge, is one of the minds behind Springr Studio in Mattancherry. The 10,000-sq feet venue was set up as an artist residency, but has now grown to include a gallery, a music studio and a cafÃ©. Kochi-based entrepreneurs Dhanya Johnson, Ashwin Nath, Abhinav Sree and Rakesh Haridas opened up the venue Â in December 2012 and Sanjeev was roped in to take charge of the music studio. Last week, Springr opened house for a jam night featuring Sanjeev, along with playback singer Resmi Sateesh, known for her work in the 2011 Malayalam film, Urumi and Dharmajan. Adds Sanjeev,Â “Springr strives to create more artist communities and encourage collaborations to create and reinvent expression. The idea is to encourage a crossover between all art forms and artists.” Starting today, the studio will host informal jam nights every Wednesday.Â
With artists finding newer avenues to collaborate and make music, Kochi musicians and bands, whose number is steadily rising, can look beyond one-off festival and shows at a mall.Â Adds artist manager Gandhi, “Venues like Springr are not just performance spaces. It reminded me of this place we had many many years ago in Kochi called Ancient Mariner, which had a similar vibe, where a sense of music camaraderie existed.Â I don’t know much about Cafe Papaya, butÂ Springr can do for what a Someplace Else has done for Kolkata.”Â
For details on Cafe Papaya, click here.