What It’s Like to Be a Musician in Pune
Pune has always loved its musicians, and these musicians haven’t forgotten their roots once they left the city. What is it about our city which makes it so unforgettable them? Well, some would say the audience; our Punekars are ‘rasik’ as we like to call ourselves- we know music, we can understand the difference between good music and well, just okay-ish music.
The modern generation of musicians in Pune are all so ridiculously talented, they are exploring their limits. And our audience loves it! Different genres, different instruments and styles, we’re taking it all in. Perhaps that is the reason why NH7 and Supersonic, two of India’s biggest music events have their birthplace in Pune.
I had a conversation with Aniket Kate, a drummer, on what it’s like to be a musician in our beloved Pune. Aniket, who has been performing since 2004, has played at several big venues, was more than eager to talk.
A former student of JMC International University of Music, Melbourne, he loves his home city and we can surely understand why! But perfection is a myth, as they say, and our city does have its own ups and downs. Despite that, our music scene keeps growing day by day, and we’re so glad for it! So let’s check out Pune’s music scene through a Puneri musician!
Following is the transcript of the conversation I had with Aniket-
“To start with, Pune’s music scene now is balanced, and what I mean by that is that it has its ups and downs. Three years ago, it was at a really good high, and now, it’s at a slight low. A lot of reasons for that, I’ll get to it later.
The best part about Pune’s music scene is that a lot of venues are popping up all over the city. Which means that we have more opportunities to perform and grow our audience. If you perform a lot in Pune, you gain a distinct advantage when it comes to getting outside gigs, especially in other parts of Maharashtra.
Our city has a certain weight, some respect in the state’s music scene, so it’s really helpful for Pune’s musicians when they’re expanding. Also, because of the amazing audience, amazing varied audience to be precise, different kinds of bands are popping up.
Different genres put Pune on the map, and it encourages closet musicians to experiment and come out and perform. From 2005 to 2010, we used to have a lot of college concerts and competitions in our city, which gave us a lot of exposure. Also, bands from other states would come to Pune to perform, so the audience got a lot of variety and for us musicians, it was easy to connect and build contacts as well. In general, Pune is a good place for live gigs, the audience is more open to experimentation and new genres.
But there are a few problems with Pune’s music scene, it can’t be denied. It’s mostly to do with the commercialization of music and that has changed a lot of things. Bollywood music and English Pop music are at the top of the gig food chain, which is kind of forcing the bands to shift in that direction.
If a band can sustain themselves by performing their own music, it’s excellent then, no need to worry! However, the bands who are just starting out have to employ this commercialization and it’s hurting their creativity. Perhaps that is the reason why we have so many cover bands in our city now. It’s simple, if it sells, they’ll ask for more for it!
In general, music oriented venues are slowly dying out or changing –it’s more to do with a place focusing on partying and alcohol and keeping the music in the background, which is sad because it discourages musicians.
Also, cover bands are hurting the entire creative scene. A lot of cover bands don’t yet get the concept of ‘covers’. A cover is not just replicating and playing the song in the exact way; it’s rearranging the track, adding some kind of your personal flavour to it. But it’s still in a positive light because it’s encouraging more and more musicians to come out and perform.
All in all, the scale isn’t tipping towards any specific side right now. Music in our city is growing as of now, but it needs to grow faster, especially considering the amount of talent in our city and the opportunities Pune has to offer.
Feature image by Mohini Mukherjee feat. NH7 Weekender, Pune