RadioandMusic
| 20 Sep 2017
Arjun S Ravi: AR Rahman has never done a music festival in India and is excited to perform at NH7
Arjun S Ravi
Arjun S Ravi

With the a stellar artist line up like Mark Ronson, AR Rahman, Flying Lotus and many others performing at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender this year, the event promises to be bigger and better. 

Apart from NH7 Weekender, OML will be busy curating Harley Rock Riders season VI which is scheduled to take place on 30 and 31 October. This edition will have Megadeth play in Mumbai for the first time and the Wailers will be headlining day two of Harley Rock Riders.

OML director Arjun S Ravi, talks about the latest edition of Shillong, artist line up and more.

Excerpts:

How did the idea of having a festival in Shillong come up?

Shillong has been on our radar since a long time. It is a beautiful place and also the kind of music that people love there is really good. So this time we implemented the idea.

What kind of support have you got from the state government?

In terms of the support from the government, we are doing all we can and are adhering to the rules and stipulations that the relevant government authorities have. We are working closely with the government to ensure that things run fine.

Moreover, we are looking at support from the music community there. There are a few bands as well, which come from Shillong and will be even playing at the festival. 

What kind of logistical challenges are you likely to face for the Shillong festival?

There aren’t that many challenges in terms of logistics. I think the main challenge is to find a really great venue and Shillong is incredibly beautiful with phenomenal grounds and areas that are visually stunning. So finding an area, which would host a festival of this scale with the many bands and stages was a key challenge and fortunately we found that. We just wish to ensure that the people of Shillong have a great time.

AR Rahman is headlining the NH7 weekender in Delhi, Bangalore and Pune. What made you get a Bollywood artist to perform at NH7?

We do not look at him as a Bollywood artist. In terms of musical artist from India, he is the one who has achieved a global level of fame and is one of the most famous artists. It is hard to find a bigger name than AR Rahman in the music industry. We also wanted to bring in a bigger experience to the fans than we did last year.

How easy or difficult was it to get artists like AR Rahman and Mark Ronson on board?

AR Rahman has never done a music festival like this previously in India and he is very excited to perform at the NH7 Weekender. We too are really excited to get him on board. I think globally, artist booking is a science and an art. Over the last decade or so that we have been dealing with international artists, we have sort of figured out a way. When it comes to international artists, there is a certain professionalism and discipline that goes into having these artists here.

What are the new elements that you have added this year?

A lot of it is the same but we take great care in putting together not just the programming of the festival but also the layout and the aesthetic sense. Whether it is through the design of the stage or any of the interactive installations that we have at the festival or even the kind of food that we should be serving; all these things are taken seriously. There will be small new additions you will see here and there. We also need to take care of things like safety, avoiding long queues at the bar and every other thing that would contribute to the making of the festival.

How long did you take to get all the artistes on board?

We start thinking about the artist line up for the next festival as soon as one gets over. And once we figure out the kind of artists we want, we start approaching them. NH7 starts when the European and the American circuit actually comes to an end. So by the end of September most of the festivals get over and in this season not many artists tour heavily as they are in the studio getting ready for the release of their next album.   

How are the three properties - The Scene, NH7 Smash Up and NH7 Shakedown faring?

They are on a hiatus right now. We are really focusing on other bigger properties. We do want to bring The Scene back but I do not foresee it happening in the near future. We have a bunch of other IPs that we are focusing on building as well. This year, we launched the first edition of Stage 42, across seven cities. We are really looking at building properties like that. Once the time is right, we will bring back the properties like The Scene, NH7 Smash Up and NH7 Shakedown.

Any new sponsors on board this year?

We do have a couple of new sponsors on board this year and are in the process of finalising the same. We will be making an official announcement very soon.

EMMA had given second window clearance for Delhi. Has this been materialised?

Our CEO Vijay Nair has been lobbying for it and I am not exactly sure how far they have gone. But they are really working very closely with the Government and the process is still underway. I believe that it should be quicker than any other place in India. I do expect a quick turnaround. We are also pushing for some exciting thing for Delhi edition of NH7 Weekender.

Is the second window clearance going to be implemented only in Delhi?

Hopefully Delhi will set an example and the other states also implement the same. But right now, it is only for Delhi.

How has the response for the early bird tickets been?

The tickets were sold out in 48 hours. It was phenomenal especially because we had not even announced the lineup.

What is the percentage of rise in the budget of artist bookings?

This is the biggest artist budget we have ever had. The budget for each city is different so cannot get out the exact budget.

Which is the airline that you have partnered with for Air NH7 and how has been the response?

We have partnered with Indigo and we are most likely to have a couple of flights for the going to Shillong.

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