A tour is one of the most romanticised things about an artist’s life in popular culture. The chance to be on the road alongside other artists and meet new people every day through the music. But at the same time primarily due to the flaky and sometimes ridiculous nature of this business it is a very difficult thing to put together. These factors might even be universal, not just constrained to India. But the riskiness of it all and the thrill of it all is what makes the journey worthwhile as well.
The special nature of this tour is that The Feels Express is an artist collective featuring three singer-songwriters from three different states of India. This was something so unique I don’t think it has ever been done before. At least not in India. Regarding the members of the collective, I have known Mahesh for almost 5 years now. Almost as long as I have been in the Independent Music Industry. Sidharth and I met briefly at a gig he was performing alongside another artist I was managing. I was always aware of Alvin as the frontman of the band Attva. Gig promoter Srikanth is someone I have known about but never met. But when we got together for a meeting it was like old friends from college getting together. Also, all the meetings were very productive.
So for the first gig, we decided to do Cochin, which is one of the main cities in Kerala, the state where I am from. Why Cochin? Since it is one of the smaller towns in India it doesn’t have a lot of events happening at the same time. So the people who come for a gig really are attentive, they are almost never drunk. They listen to each word out of the artist’s mouth carefully. I have been organizing gigs in Kochi for almost five years now. But getting an audience to an indie event is always a struggle. Because unless the band is famous the average audience isn’t familiar with the artist I bring here. So usually it’s a delicate balance between getting a quality opening artist who is local in order to get the word out there locally. Also besides the usual marketing techniques which are a combination of social media, traditional media, setting up college ambassadors, and more I also had to resort to non-traditional methods.
I added a burger called The Feels Express Burger in a popular restaurant nearby which the restaurant promoted on social media. I put up a video on social media talking about the importance of these events and the importance of supporting original independent art. Which actually resonated with a lot of people and a lot of people shared and which resulted in a lot of people booking tickets to the show. Some people who couldn’t show up that day actually booked tickets just in support.
The show itself went very well. Along with an amazing opening set by local singer-songwriter Navaneeth Narayan. All the people who came to the event were very impressed with the collective and what it was bringing to the musical landscape of the city.
One of the things which I mentioned in the video was the fact that indie musicians talk about not enough people coming to indie shows when they themselves don’t go to any other show. Self-interest is always fine. But disguising them as altruistic interest in the scene growing larger is pure hypocrisy. This was not something spoken in frustration but to articulate something which I believe a lot of people feel.
Also, one of the reasons I wanted it to start from Kochi is pure selfishness. I absolutely love this city of mine with all of its quirkiness. Beautiful and original art lets a city transform. It helps it bloom. Each song sung here contributes to the artistic ecosystem of this city. The aborigines say that the whole universe was sung into being. According to them, creation itself is the result of a song. Maybe we all need more creators in our cities. Maybe we all need more universes within our universe.