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News |  18 Dec 2015 13:56 |  By IANS

From EDM to heavy metal: International music left India grooving (2015 in Retrospect)

MUMBAI: Skrillex, Afrojack, Slash, Michael Learns to Rock, Mogwai and Megadeth. The live music calendar for 2015 was long and diverse with a plethora of artists from across the globe, who mesmerised sold out crowds at gigs, festivals and events in India this year. Some of the best - David Guetta and Fatboy Slim - of course, are kept for the last.

With an unprecedented surge in international festivals and concerts, music aficionados got the chance to witness some of the world’s biggest names from diverse genres like EDM (Electronic Dance Music), rock, jazz and heavy metal on the home turf in 2015. And there was also a surprise from Coldplay’s Chris Martin.

EDM has definitely taken the cake, as far as music genres are concerned. Sunburn, India’s premier electronic music festival, featured Grammy Award-winning DJ and music producer Afrojack at Sunburn Arena, and will host Guetta, Martin Garrix, KSHMR as headlining acts in Goa at the end of this month.

The idea is to bring new sounds and fresh projects to consumers every year, says Harindra Singh, vice chairman and managing director, Percept Ltd.

“Each year our consumer research, marketing and production team research the artists, new production experiences and consumer experiences to ensure that we give a truly global experience to our fans. We are in constant touch with the international artists and their agencies to experiment with new sounds and new projects and we bring to the country the absolute best," Singh told IANS.

He said that while “dance music is a well established concept worldwide, India is waking up to it only now and embracing it fully”.

Even on the heavy metal front, an array of artists like Megadeth, Napalm Death, Demilich, Anatomia, Carcass, Inquisition, Hacktivist and Cannibal Corpse among others made their appearances in the country at different heavy metal festivals.

Kunal Choksi, owner of Mumbai-based heavy metal record label Transcending Obscurity, attributes this growth to “awareness and promotion”.

“The fact is that organisers here are actually making an effort to get in touch with bands of their choice, and inviting them to play shows in the country. In the past, this remained a dream for most,” Choksi told IANS.

Universal Music Group South Asia managing director and CEO Devraj Sanyal says, the surge of international acts touring India has a lot to do with internet exposure to such bands.

“Our audiences are now exposed to music all over the globe at the very same time as it’s launched out there. Secondly, unlike earlier, clubs and hangout spots in metros now play international music much more than they ever used to,” Sanyal told IANS.

Post-rock too got a boost with bands like Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky performing for packed audiences this year.

“It is amazing for both of us to be here in such a short span of time. I think this shows that the kind of music Mogwai, us and a couple of other bands from Japan have been playing holds great interest and people are excited to see and hear this kind of music,” Explosions in the Sky’s guitarist Munaf Rayani told IANS.

Jaideep Singh, senior vice president and business head, LIVE Viacom18, credits “startup entrepreneurs” and “entry of big organised corporate players” for the growth of international music, especially dance music, in India.

“Initial five years were more of sporadic events happening across the country in a few major cities which set the bed rock of the explosive growth witnessed in the last few years," Singh told IANS.

However, Sandesh Shenoy, organiser of Bangalore’s Trendslaughter Fest and owner of Cyclopean Eye Records, believes that there is still quite some work left to be done in the extreme metal sphere.

“Even though we have seen a surge in the ‘popularity’ of extreme metal in the recent years, the genre still largely remains underground. Barring a few commercial metal acts like Cannibal Corpse for example, extreme metal seems to have a rather limited and diminishing audience,” Shenoy told IANS.

In a nutshell:

* Overall, a very positive year for international music in India.

* A lot of big artists from across genres performed this year, with special mention to Chris Martin from Coldplay, who gave an impromptu performance in Delhi.

* Music festivals got a big boost with great crowds. The Skrillex show in Gurgaon, for example, reportedly had around 10,000 people dancing to the DJ’s tunes.

* Heavy metal music got a great boost with the advent of music festivals like BIG69, CultFest, Trendslaughter Fest and Bangalore Open Air, which brought several big names from the global metal movement to India for the first time.