Helping alt music tip over to broader imagination
A tracking down of a 72-year-old Charanjit Singh, the late pioneer of disco music, who is said to be the father of acid house genre and who put 10 ragas to a disco beat in the 80s; an association over many live shows all over Europe till Singh passed away in 2015; and a perspicacity for good, original music, are all precursors to how Rana Ghose’s agency REProduce came into being in 2016.
A 44-year-old Canadian, with a PhD in economics and anthropology, is not your typical profile for a curator of a music events company, but Rana breaks the stereotype. He turns auto repair workshops into gig stages, rejects the commercial sponsors and spaces, finds artistes on YouTube and gives them the freedom to play their music.
“The future of music is no longer film or classical. I am more interested in artistes from small cities such as Agra, Bareilly, Patna, Pondicherry and of course, Chandigarh. That’s the future the anglicised India looks down upon,” Ghose says. Being genre agnostic, Ghose believes in sincerity of the artiste as the criterion for being selected to perform. Once selected, he doesn’t meddle further, “Music is not about what people want but what they need.”
From Chandigarh, artistes Yung Umlee (Sambhav), Chaufla (Eashan) and Help (Anmol Singh), who play together under the stage name D33P Thoughts, are among those who have played in the three sessions that REProduce has curated in the city so far.
On Rana’s initiative, a 25-year-old architect, Eashan, says, “It is necessary for India )and Chandigarh), where mainstream is dominant, to create an independent community of underground artistes. It is culturally significant for audiences as well and the unpredictability of the experience makes it special.” Sambhav, 24, has been trained as a chef, but under the moniker Yung Umlee, he creates electronic music on the side. About Rana’s work, he says, “He has a clear vision. The goal is that the work should never stop. And these gigs are not money making, commercial music events at commercial places, where people only come to eat and drink. They are good surprise in terms of venue as well as content.”
Working with artistes from small cities, Rana often battles conservative mindset.
“I want to prove that this can be a viable career option. It requires a lot of work from the artiste and might take a lot of years, but it’s real and not a joke,” he says.
Rana has a philosophical take on what he is doing with REProduce — “creating a community that can counter uncertainty and fear of working in a vacuum, and where artistes feel they belong.” The economist in him is clear on the approach that REProduce should take in order to stay afloat — “rely on goodwill, allow freedom, make sure they don’t lose money, and be regular.”