In conversation with Sonya Mazumdar, IndiEarth XChange 2017

Congratulations on putting together the 6th edition of the IndiEarth XChange this year. Tell us your biggest take away from this edition?

The biggest take away from this year’s edition is that artists are involved in their own development more than ever before, they understand the value of XChange and its impact on the industry in the coming years. This year’s XChange was focused on next generation artists and industry, education and skills development. The overwhelming response from artists and learners is a vindication of our efforts to keep XChange going against all odds.

As the Founder of this event, and this being the 6th year, what according to you lacks in an event like this?

I would love to see more proactive participation by industry ‘Elders’, who would chip in their time, money and experience to grow this platform to build infrastructure which will be good for everyone. Apart from a few exceptions, current industry members with their many years of experience still seem hesitant to share their knowledge to pave the path for a new working model that will be built and used by next generation industry.  I would love to see sponsors step out of their boxes of stereotyped ROI perceptions and look at developing their brand identities from more creative perspectives.

An event such as XChange is an event which every link in the industry chain should be a part of – from artist to audience and everyone in between: venues, media, sponsors, artist management, etc. – everyone is a stakeholder and we need to encourage the ‘pay for the arts’ mentality, it’s not sustainable to expect one organizer to be able to fund everything and everyone involved in an endeavour of this magnitude.

What were the challenges you faced while putting together the event?

Funding is the only huge challenge for putting up an event such as this. Other than that, an event such as this should ideally be in a venue that is built for musical performances and film screenings and conducive to the arts, without swallowing up a major part of the budget.

Whats your basic formulae/ criteria while picking the artists who perform at the XChange?

Diversity first – both genre and cultural. I programme acts that the city would love to watch as well as acts that I want to introduce to the city; acts that our international programmers could buy for their festivals/venues, and of course, discoveries… artists that are as yet unknown, but slated to be successful in time.

Tell us a bit more about the EarthSync’s Indie100 India 2017 and what you are trying to achieve through this

It started 3 years ago with QUT and EarthSync joining hands to build a programme that would add industry experience value to music education. This project has received Australian-Indian development grants that have empowered us to pursue a long-term programme that nurtures next generation artists and industry members with sessions with senior musicians, industry members and educational institutions.

At XChange 2015, we had renowned Australian producers Lachlan ‘Magoo’ Goold and Yanto Browning record, mix and master the works of 10 indie bands. In 2016, KM Music Conservatory joined the partnership, and the student and professional exchange programme commenced. In 2017, 12 artists were selected by an international jury to participate in workshops, recording sessions, and showcase opportunities at XChange 2017. We have already seen success stories of Indie100 artists getting bookings and even performing internationally. Next year, Australian and Indian students will be selected to be at XChange 2018 as professionals, contributing their new ideas, roadmaps.

The response to this project and the results are really inspiring – there is nothing more wonderful than to see the next generation industry develop in the wings – invested, eager, enthusiastic, and getting equipped to build a whole new world, their way!

What is your take on the current Indie scene?

There is a lot of new blood in the current Indie scene who are paving the way to do things in a very different way. Add to that some of the experienced players who have moved away from the tried and tested ways of doing things, and we see a very promising work ethos developing that is very DIY and experimental in approach, and light on its feet. Change is definitely on the cards!

If there is something you would like to change in the current independent music scene, what would it be and why?

The concept of “independent”. Being independent should not translate to being the hiply broke artist and not paying/getting paid. Being independent cannot mean self-centred. Independent should mean being self-sufficient, responsible as much for yourself as for building an industry as a whole; respecting audiences, and taking risks to do things differently.

Tell us what you would like to incorporate in XChange 2018.

New ideas and concepts, fresh perspectives, more cutting-edge masterclasses. Check back in a few months on the details 🙂

Your message to our readers.

Stop reading this article, get off your armchair, come to XChange 2018 to do your part and experience the change yourself ;-D

This interview was featured in the December 2017 issue: http://bit.ly/2CNxTgn

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