Recently we got a chance to interview one of the upcoming artists in the Industry – TAPAS, a 6-member band that is playing some amazing Hindi progressive rock music. Their EP ‘Aarambh’ was released last year and was received well. They have also had a crowdfunded video for their song ‘Dil Mera’ and are now looking forward to working on their sound and release their new EP with us very soon. During a chat with Loudest.in, they emphasized the need for an infrastructure for the Independent Music Industry.
How did Tapas come into play?
The idea was dated back to 2014-22015, and Akshay put the idea forward and tried to put together a team that would jam together and explore what TAPAs is and what music they wanted to play. But the team wasn’t working well, and they posted online looking for a vocalist, and that’s where I came in. I auditioned, but I had no plan to be a part of a band, but I liked their music. Finally, in 2016, we became what we are today and found the right team, and we are now a 6-piece band.
What are some of the challenges Tapas faced in the industry as a band?
Some of the challenges we faced was being stuck in a Bollywood centric crowd. We wanted to perform our music and not Bollywood Music. Before that, we used to do a lot of club shows, private shows and corporate shows, but that growth as a band was not coming out. So taking that plunge was a challenge and how we will sustain ourselves.
How did Tapas go about your music distribution?
Aarambh was a self-released EP. Aarambh was named because it means the first step. We decided to record our music and step away from doing covers. So it was our first release. In 2017, we were not well versed in digital platforms, and Spotify was not in India back then. We ended up going for OK Listen! They took 20% of our sales, but we were not looking into that too much. But for Dil Mera Reprise was a different sound and was made in 2016, so we released this through Distrokid in 2018, and it was quite pocket-friendly for us unlike OK Listen!
What do you feel about the touring infrastructure in India?
Definitely not enough venues in Mumbai. With the shutting down of Blue Frog, we found a lack of support for our kind of sound. There were a couple of other venues as well like MTV Flyp, but that also went away. On the contrary, though, there is a rise in Music Festivals, and College fests are one of the main markets we focus on for live performances. One of the festivals we played was the Strawberry Fields Festival in Bangalore in 2017, and then there was Mumbai Fest in MMRDA.
Does Tapas have an Artist Manager?
Currently, we don’t have an artist manager, but we are looking for one whose goals are aligned with ours. It is a grey area for us because we don’t understand the mechanics. We prefer booking agents instead, who can cue gigs for us. Everyone in the band has taken up particular roles for now. One of them is booking jam pads, one of them is booking gigs. We are understanding Music Business with our experiences. We are planning to release another EP, and earlier we weren’t aware of the market, and its demands, so we are planning to collaborate with people who understand Music Business and who can push our music to the maximum amount of people.
Do you all have primary jobs as well to support the band?
I teach music on the side to support this. Others are also working to keep the hustle going to help our music because we know it is going to take some time before it becomes a viable option to sustain ourselves. We try to get sponsors on board who go well with our music. We did crowdfunding for our single Dil Mera which went well for us.
Do you feel there is a need for investments in Independent Music Industry? Are you looking for people who would be keen on investing in your music?
We have started exploring the idea of looking for investments. We got a friend, who works at Roasted Mirchi Productions who funded and directed the video for our single ‘Udaan’, so we are looking at collaborations like that in future as well. I think getting an infrastructure is necessary for Independent Musicians. People are trying to understand the potential, especially the OTT platforms, are looking into Independent Musicians. Hip-Hop is one of the genres which is much appreciated and is being heavily invested in currently. Similarly, other genres and musicians also need focus and investment.
Are you looking to work with OTT platforms or other revenue streams from your music?
We haven’t found any breakthrough with OTT platforms, but we also want to focus on short films and shows. We have worked on short films before, and we feel it works well for us because our music is quite an emotion-driver and is also in Hindi, which has a broader mass appeal in our country. It is not very experimental, and the music needs to have a specific commercial angle for it to be used on these platforms, but at the same time we don’t wish to compromise on our sound for this.
How did your parents react to the decision of pursuing music?
Initially, parents were not comfortable about our decision to go into our music, but once we were able to show them that this is a sustainable career for us, and we can make a living out of this too, they were much more supportive and understood our plight.
Who is Tapas’ biggest inspiration?
The Local Train is a huge inspiration, so is aswekeepsearching. As far as setting an example is concerned in a country where Bollywood music is heard dominantly, it’s quite applaudable. If these guys could do it, then so can other bands and at the end of the day, it’s the attitude that counts. Can’t forget Parvaaz, Agni and the Indian Ocean in this mix!