Basement Records: Uplifting Delhi’s Underground
A young media organisation called Twenty Onwards Media has started Basement Records in order to promote musical activities in Delhi. While there is talent in the city in large numbers, the opportunities available are scarce. Basement Records has fared well because of this musical drought. Several bands have signed up with them and several more productions are under way. We spoke to director Jatin Varma about this venture. Here are excerpts from the interview.
When did Basement Records start?
We officially started in January 2008, when our studio went online, though we had been working on it since about a year before that.
What is the idea behind it?
To be honest, we just wanted to create a great studio within Delhi. We have the largest recording area in NCR plus the best equipment in town. We didn’t think that we would be producing our own projects for at least one to two years into operation. However, it’s only [been] eight months since we started and we have two in-house albums under production to be launched in a few months.
Look, Delhi has a lot of talent, as well as technical expertise, yet a lot of work still goes to Mumbai. We offer ourselves as an alternative not only for musicians but also for agencies and companies. We keep ourselves open to all types of projects, we plan to have a healthy mix of niche stuff as well as projects that will have mass appeal.
Who is the management behind it? Have they any experience playing in bands themselves?
Basement Records is one part of the larger company, Twenty Onwards Media. We have two magazines (TRAFFIC Life, Random), we function as a creative agency as well. Basement Records functions as our audio-visual division.
In terms of technical expertise behind the studio, we have the best sound engineers in the city, plus an in-house content team. And yeah, a lot of them are musicians themselves, so for them working in a label/studio is great fun.
What kind of facilities are offered? What bands have recorded with you and what kind of bands are you looking to sign on to the record label?
As I mentioned, we have the largest recording area in Delhi (the best place to record drums), you can refer to our equipment list for the tech specs. In addition to the basic facilities of a studio, we offer creative services for clients and musicians, from writing scripts to getting you the best producers and back up musicians in the country. Our other facility coming in Gurgoan will take this up another notch, not only offering another great recording facility, but a 24/7 jam pad for musicians in the city, as well as a green room area, so you can practise, record and then make your music video at the same place.
In the past eight months, we have recorded about 30 bands in the city, from the more well known ones such as the Superfuzz, Cyanide, Faridkot to the lesser known ones like Zinc, Team Hustle, Emperor Minge to name a few.
About signing up bands, we have a few under contract for a demo four-track album, as well getting them gigs around town, but this is all experimental right now. We hope to eventually find a great band and produce them, get them on air, market them nationally — however, all that depends on how soon we find them.
What are your thoughts on the independent music scene in Delhi?
I feel it gets more credit than it deserves, at least in the traditional rock/pop band sense. But, yeah, it does exist despite having all odds set against it. There certainly are more places to experience good live music than there were before. Let’s hope it keeps getting better.
About the free music recording scheme — what the response has been like so far, especially considering that there aren’t a lot of similar facilities in Delhi?
Yeah, to promote our studio among musicians, we decided last month to have a band fest where any musician or band (singing in English, Hindi or whatever language) can get four hours of studio time plus mixing. We didn’t really advertise it, we just did word of mouth and we got a tremendous response. We even had to refuse people at times. We plan to re-introduce it again few months down the line. The idea was also to hunt for really good talent in the city as most of the bands contacting us were quite unknown, didnt even have names at times. We hope we can find some good people and maybe even produce them, which would be awesome.