When 2021 began, we hoped to be able to go back to “normal”. A “normal” we’ve known all our lives. We hoped to be able to go out and meet friends, hug them, tell them how much we’ve missed, and what they mean to us, to just be able to crack a cold one with them and talk about how far we’ve come from where we first started.
With the pandemic hitting a new peak each passing day, what ensued was us being on our way to a perhaps new and altered reality, a new normal. Video calls became a staple, we became more attached to our handheld devices for that was the only thing connecting us to the ones we love and the world.
With almost every industry changing and evolving to suit the current times, we artists are no different! We’ve had to adapt and innovate like never before! The way we consume content has changed, with new material clamouring for air-time and streaming onto our screens every single day, the pressure on performers to reach out to fans has peaked to an all-time high.
It puts into perspective the impact of the creative arts, especially music, comedy, and films have on us. While music and films have been a way for us to escape the mundaneness of our lives, it has now also become a sure-fire way to escape anxiety, albeit temporarily.
I’ve always believed that music heals; it feeds your soul. Music has always been a way of self-expression for both, those who make it, and for those who consume it. Music is a quick fix, an escape, and it is meant to ease the rigmarole of our issues and problems.
It is certainly not easy to retain one’s sanity in times of such grief, loss, and gripping paranoia, it has been an excruciating year for all of us. As an artist I found myself going back to basics and seeking inspiration from things that were right in-front of me. I found myself spending a lot of time in my studio, listening to old favourites and samples. This took me to a place where I was able to channel all the stress and anxiety I was feeling into my music. It helped me grow as a song writer, and I was able to tap into feelings and emotions I otherwise wouldn’t have had time to explore. I had to unlearn a lot of things I taught myself as an artist. I learnt to appreciate this time I had to myself and use it towards bettering myself not only as an individual but also as an artist and performer. This helped me relate to my fans through social media and be able to put out music they wanted to listen to. I gained valuable insight into how my fans see me and how excited they were to be able to reach out to me and tell me what they were looking forward to in terms of my work.
A strong artist-fanbase connection makes creating content and putting out music a bit more challenging, but this is something that I genuinely felt has helped me grow as a creator. For instance, Aaraam. This song is very close to my heart as I had been keen on releasing another single in Kannada after the success of Maari Kannu in 2019. My fans had been requesting me to put out more Kannada music. I drew from that positivity, that I could create content in Kannada and wrote Aaraam. I wrote the song in a very organic and natural conversational form: it came from the way I would speak to my friends. It is meant to be very laid back and very casual, and it was such a cathartic process to be able to capture such an everyday thing into a song that went onto becoming something more laidback than I had imagined. It was surreal to be able to capture that quintessential Bangalore vibe into my music as a tribute of sorts to the city”. This process of course wasn’t free of challenges, however. The lockdown & pandemic meant we had to shoot the music video with all necessary health and hygiene precautions and social distancing norms in place..
The team worked relentlessly towards following safety protocols, ensuring not one member involved in the production was exposed to any risk whatsoever. We learnt to make the most of what little was at our disposal, and turn it into what Aaraam has become now. It was truly such a learning experience to work with a limited crew, limited resources, and stringent guidelines, whilst not compromising on our creative flow and vision. We’ve learnt to push our limits to achieve the best possible outcome and it is just an example of what is a continuous endeavour towards putting out enjoyable and relevant content in these testing times.
The response to it has been exhilarating and it has been a revelation to see the increase in content consumption during the lockdowns. This is a shot in the arm for independent artists in India. While our music has been out there for a while, I have realised that the content consumption patterns during the lockdown indicate that people are reacting to less commercial content in a much more favourable fashion. There has been a surge in sharing, subscription, and views, and independent artists who’ve been putting out music regularly have been receiving long overdue adulation for their music. I hope this trend continues and it helps independent artists become more confident and receive the credit and recognition due to them.
The shift in the consumption patterns dawned on me when I was approached by the production team of Family Man to feature Vainko, a song I created and then produced into a video in collaboration with Jordindian in 2019. The response to it has been surreal and this only emphasises the impact the internet has on showcasing music that listeners actively enjoy and expanding our fan base exponentially.
We live in a brave new world. A brave new world willing to try new things. The need of the hour is to make the best possible use of our time by creating engaging and thought-provoking content. This has also given us enough room to grow and experiment with the kind of work we do, because our fans and our audience is more curious now. Our audience is hungry for things and experiences that are novel and unexplored, for which I am grateful. It’s been a roller coaster ride sofar and it wouldn’t have been possible without my fans who have stood by me since my “Aathma Raama” days. It would suffice to say that we’ve grown together. I actively work towards staying connected with my fans and an integral part of that is accomplished by lending my voice and support towards COVID relief work. I have been blessed with a voice and a strong platform, and utilising it during the pandemic has helped me amplify voices that had to be heard in times of need.
I eagerly await the day when I can meet my fans and well-wishers in person and be able to tell them how grateful I am for their support and their faith in me. As an artist there’s a lot I learn from my fans as well, and that aids me in my journey to becoming the best version of myself.
Times have changed drastically. It has become imperative now more than ever to be an active and equal participant in conversations and everything that is happening around us. We are now more accessible to our fans; their voices are shaping the landscape for the future of artists, and I’ll always be in awe of this growing dynamic.
We are all in this together and it has been an incredible and a humbling experience to be able to embrace it in its entirety and grow not just as an artist, but also as a human.
I look forward to seeing the growth of independent artists and the community of indie music. Music exists and evolves not only because of us artists, but because of the community of fans that stand behind us. I hope this revolution in the way content is being consumed and shared will only go on to propelling more and more unrecognised artists and their work to the heights that they have dreamt of.