Nikhil Chinapa: India doesn't have a developed music scene like Europe

Apr 07, 2018, 09:37 IST | Sonia Lulla

Nikhil asserts music aficionados need not categorise themselves as rock, pop or Jazz lovers

Nikhil Chinapa
Nikhil Chinapa

Seated across a bonfire in the cold climes of Shillong after filming for a reality show, Nikhil Chinapa chronicles to us, the story behind one of the "world's most popular disco song". "In 1977, two guys were invited to New York's Studio 54, then amongst the most popular night clubs, but weren't allowed to enter it because their names were not on the guest list. So annoyed were they that they went home and jammed to vent their anger," he says, punctuating the narration to break into a head bang and sing, "Ahh, f**k off" - an attempt at enacting what could have transpired between the men that evening. "The tune lingered in their heads, and f**k off was eventually altered to Freak Out. The track became the biggest disco song ever," Chinapa says of the Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards number, his amusement at the four-decade-old development still evident.

It was years before his association with MTV in 1997 that Chinapa, 44, established his romance with music. He has worked fervently ever since to create the "music scene" that India now enjoys. Sharing such tidbits of trivia is his recent attempt at piquing curiosity about Dance Music in his radio show, Together. "The news I highlight on my show is as important as the music itself. If you become curious about the music, you'll fall in love with it, and hopefully discover it yourself. I would call EDM a gateway stage. It's easy to access, but once you're introduced to it, you diversify and search for more sophisticated tunes."

With India emerging as a popular destination on touring calendars of international artistes, the country has played host to the biggest names over the past few years. Interestingly, its citizens welcome an RnB singer with just as much enthusiasm as they do a rock, pop or Jazz artiste. Chinapa says that while India doesn't have a "developed music scene like Europe, Australia or North America," he doesn't think arriving at that place is essential. "We're on a discovery curve. India accepts rock, pop, hip-hop, techno, EDM, Jazz, and other sounds too. Getting to a stage where India starts defining its music tastes is not important. I kind of like where we are now."

Aspiring musicians aiming to make a mark in this increasingly saturated market, he hopes, will harbour the same passion for the craft as he does. "Music is meant to be enjoyed, so I'd tell [aspiring musicians] to enjoy it. Finding your niche is not easy, but it's a craft you can work on. Music is created by accomplished musicians, not by monkeys on keyboards. The software has become easier to use. But, you can't press three keys and make a song. If you want to make good music, study the art. Artistes develop as they get better. There was drum and base, but Skrillex created dubstep with the two genres. Benny Benassi created electro with Satisfaction. So, don't copy anyone."

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