Frontman of soft rock band Ghalat Family, composer, script-writer and lyricist, Ankur Tewari, is now also programming head of MTV’s brand new indie channel. He speaks to Moeena Halim, about promoting indie music and all things indie
Q. What is special about the new channel?
A. None of what we air is anything you’ve seen on other channels before. What I feel is best for the channel right now is to try and make it as honest and organic as possible. By that I mean there should be no attempt to show off. I am aiming at a clutter-free screen at all times. There will be no appointment-based shows for the first few months. Music will be played on the basis of moods, rather than genre. Instead of full-blown shows we’re going to have snappy eight-minute vignettes, which are being ideated by a young crew of indie artistes; it’s so informal that you might even catch them hanging around in the background on the show.
One For The Road is a show on the channel where musicians will partake in impromptu gigs
Q. Even a few years ago, a channel focussing on indie artistes would have been difficult to pull off. Do you think social media and other technology have helped indie music?
A. Yes, most certainly, they have helped in a big way. That is also why we have not merely launched a television channel. Pepsi MTV Indies is more of an indie movement than just a channel. We will engage the audience across platforms. In today’s tech-savvy world, nobody does just one thing at one time. You won’t find anyone just watching TV; they will simultaneously tweet or browse the web as well.
Q. Do you plan to focus on arts other than music, too?
A. Yes. We want to provide a platform for all things indie. After all, indie artistes rely on each other. If I write a song, I need a graphic designer to package a song, a film director for the video and so on. So an interesting vignette on a musician may be followed by a profile of a graphic designer or a stand-up comic. And by profiles I don’t mean interviews — we want to break known formats.
Q. What qualifies as indie for you?
A. Anything non-filmi and homegrown; artistes that follow a do-it-yourself policy. Let’s take a look at Vishal Dadlani, for instance. He has several avatars and has found great success. But even though his indie avatar with Pentagram was a pioneer on the live scene, he still hasn’t found a platform on television. We are hoping to be that platform for non-mainstream artistes across genres.
Q. Will you also produce music videos for some of the indie bands?
A. Yes, we hope to produce videos for newcomers as well as others. Unfortunately there isn’t much money in the indie scene and we’re constricted by budgets. In earlier days, classical musicians had royal patronage or had rich businessmen backing them.
Q. Are you likely to set up collaborations between bands, too?
A. We would love to organise collaborations, but in an interesting way. Perhaps have someone from the gaming world collaborate with a comic, or a fashion designer with a musician.
Q. Tell us about the app MTV is working on.
A. It’s quite exciting — it will identify indie music as well as popular music. The other interesting thing is that it will recommend indie bands on the basis of music you already know and like. For instance, if you’re a Metallica fan, it will recommend Bhayanak Maut or Scribe.