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Stepping Out

Sutasi propels Indian talent into the international arena

rsiwebadmin Nov 10, 2008
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Adrian Hannan

The talk of mainstream labels, international recognition, and sustainable futures would imply wishful thinking for most struggling musicians in the recent past. But of late the world has started to take notice and fast. In the cloying scenario of talent hunt shows inundating the tube – with shows as Indian Idol, and a whole breed of others scouting playback singers tailored for Bollywood ”“ Asia Sounds Pvt Ltd brings an atypical talent show in Sutasi, a pan-Asian talent show, which shall air internationally in January 2009 after its grand finale which is to be held in the US. Asia Sounds is a global music publishing, talent management, television production and event broadcasting company with offices in Melbourne, Singapore, New York and Los Angeles. Sutasi approaches the concept of talent shows with a completely different set of beliefs. From what some participants suggest, the show’s intention is to promote Asian music, wherein the competition serves more as a conduit rather than a cutthroat race until the end. 99 finalists culled from various Asian countries such as Korea, Japan, China, Nepal, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, India and Nepal shall battle it out at the finals, the date for which is yet undecided. The winning finalists will share in over one million US dollars in cash and prizes including the opportunity to co-write with international songwriters, record an album with successful producers, global marketing and promotion, and music video for worldwide release.

Sutasi is an initiative of Colleen Zulian, President of Asia Sounds, who took the pains to literally handpick bands for the show, after doing much research with the assistance of Counter Culture Records and Only Much Louder. Zulian came down from Australia in October last year for the same, and over several trips to the country, she shortlisted 13 artists through three categories ”“ bands, solo artists and songwriters. It is peculiar but Zulian, who is herself Australian sought to champion Asian music. According to her, it’s mostly to do with an unexplored realm. “I had worked in the industry for many years and knew how horrible it was”¦ I then found a hole in the industry as I had fire in my belly. I looked at Asia because I did not have access to Asian music, and that is what drove me; I knew that if we have very talented artists in the West, then we must have the same globally.” The show boasts of state of the art technology and an enviable crew, in which the production of the show aspires to set a benchmark of its own. On board is a bevy of heavyweights like Director of Programs, Anke Thommen, has previously worked with the likes of Jay Z, Aerosmith and Dave Matthews; Executive Producer, Gayle De Poli, an Emmy and Peabody award winning producer who has worked on Melissa Etheridge live at Grand Central, Survivor and Rockstar INXS amongst others; and Executive Music Director, Ray Chew, who has performed with legendary artists including Sting, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, and Quincy Jones. The 13 short listed musicians from India flew down for filming a preliminary showcase at the National University of Singapore Cultural Centre in early October. Their reactions mostly suppose emotions of amazement, awe and surprise at the professionalism and effort put into this endeavour. “We did not anticipate the magnitude of this show, we went in thinking it was just another competition”¦our costumes were taken from us and returned in time crisp and ironed, we had a stylist to ensure we looked our best…I mean in India they only take notice when its time to pay up, its like the tent wallah, the sound wallah and then the artist,” laughs bass guitarist Jishnu Dasgupta of Swarathma. He goes on to tell us how every aspect of the show was meticulously dealt with citing a book which was maintained for each band tracking down bar by bar of every song they played, which would assist the Director in editing while filming. Speaking of their interaction with foreign bands, Dasgupta believes India has a lot to learn from them suggesting some of them are ahead of their time. Though solo artist Nikhil D’souza maintains India is very much at par with the talent pool at the competition. None of the bands have had such an experience before and admit it was took time to get used to the idea of playing to 8 cameras instead of a crowd. “But the cameras become our audience; we have to understand it is perhaps the largest audience we would played for in the end” says Dasgupta. Also most of them confer that the Korean musicians floored them completely “I have decided, next time I decide to go on holiday it has to be Korea,” laughs Indigo children bassist Nikhil Rufus.

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“The whole reason that I set out on this journey was because of this amazing talent in Asia. The Korean acts that we have found have major potential to have instant success if they have the songs and the opportunity. As for India, it has my heart”¦” Zulian goes onto list a few of her Indian favourites in East India Company, Cassini’s Division, Nikhil D’Souza, and Indigo Children amongst others”¦“I also have two baby bands that I need to mention, The Bottleflower Seeds and Septic, I see us working and developing these bands for the next three years.”

Shortlisted:

Bands
Swarathma (Bangalore)
Indigo Children (Delhi)
East India Company (Delhi)
Jalebee Cartel (Delhi)
Cassini’s Division (Kolkata)
Septic (Delhi)
The Bottleflower Seeds (Bangalore)

Solo Artists
Joshua Queah (Guwahati)
Nikhil D’souza (Mumbai)
Dimple Singh Nandra (Nepal)
Aparna Dauria (Mumbai)

Songwriters
Caralisa Monteiro (Mumbai)
Siddharth Coutto (Mumbai)

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