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Hermit Sethi: “Sometimes we do eight events over a weekend”

Ahead of Sunburn festival, the Submerge co-founder talks about the rise of the Indian EDM scene in the last decade

Anurag Tagat Dec 24, 2012
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(L-R): Nikhil Chinapa, DJ Pearl and Hermit Sethi

It is difficult to imagine the Indian EDM scene without Submerge. Founded by Hermit Sethi, Nikhil Chinapa and Pearl in 2002, it’s been a decade since their inception. Sethi spoke to ROLLING STONE India about the journey so far.

How has the music scene changed since 2002?  

Ten years ago, audiences hardly knew [EDM] genres. Techno, trance, psy-trance, drum and bass was all under electronic dance music. There was no categorization. The only music they heard was what we used to play at that point of time. In terms of the music and the understanding, things have changed tremendously, which is only for the better. For example, if Michael Woods or Armin Van Buuren is playing, people know what to expect. The market’s hugely grown, in terms of how many nightclubs we used to have then and how many we have now. Ten years ago, there was just Rock Bottom and”¦ Fire ’N Ice had shut down, I think. Maybe three nightclubs [in Mumbai]… But now, we have six or seven nightclubs. So the market has grown a lot, in the music side and the business side.

There was a time when shows used to happen only on Thursday nights. Now, sometimes, we do eight events over a weekend. Don’t ask me how. In Mumbai, we do Friday nights somewhere, and then Saturdays in either Delhi or Mumbai, we do Bengaluru on Sundays. We’ve got into places like Indore, where the last event we did had about 780 people. It’s quite a shock.

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What do you think of electronica and electronic dance music [EDM] taking off in India?

The biggest DJs, except Tiesto and Deadmau5, have performed in the country. They will obviously come down too”¦ it’s just a matter of time. It’s not underground anymore. I don’t know if you saw the Submerge logo when we started out. It said ”˜the underground sound.’ Dubstep, which was underground, is the same genre Skrillex plays and he’s one of the top five DJs in the world now. It’s mainstream now, it’s the present and it’s going to be in the future.

Could you name two young electronica artists you think we should watch out for?
One is Anish Sood [from Goa], who over the last couple of years, has become really, really good. He’s really coming up. The other one Dualist Inquiry from Delhi, who plays in a similar genre space which has just opened up. People like this kind of music. These two have great potential.

Goa’s always been big on EDM, but is any other city picking up on the electronica scene?
Bengaluru is getting huge. Every weekend you have an international DJ playing there.  Even though they have a 11.30pm deadline, you’ll be shocked to know that people come to clubs at 7.30 in the evening and by 9 o’ clock, they’re smashed.

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Armin Van Buuren is already confirmed for next year. Are there any other acts you’re planning to bring down in 2013?

I can’t give any names out right now, since it’s just the start. Armin [Van Buuren] is coming to Mumbai, and it’s going to be massive. Apart from that, there will be a lot of artist programming. We’re doing MTV Bloc Party, where Alesso is coming and Deniz Koyu, Shovell and Simon Dunmore are coming as well. There are some relatively big acts being booked next year.

Sunburn will take place at Candolim, Goa between December 27th to 29th. For tickets, click here 


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