With the live entertainment industry coming to a screeching halt in reciprocation to the coronavirus outbreak, several musicians, organizers and managers have put their heads together to adapt and make the best of a less-than-ideal situation. Local Mumbai organizers behind metal property BlackBlood India and alternative/indie gig series United We Groove started a new online show called ‘The Lockdown Sessions’, which, since its inception, has been a hit amongst new listeners and old alike.
I spoke to Adit Khanzode, lead organizer behind team BlackBlood and United we Groove. Adit and his team have a startling legacy of 20 BlackBlood shows and eight United We Groove gigs under their belt, within no more than four years! BlackBlood is the only metal music property keeping the metal scene active in Mumbai and has done more shows than any gig series in recent times for the genre.
The Lockdown Sessions featured a mix of Indian and a few international guests. Facebook and former Instagram lives are free for anyone to attend, where one can pay what they want to support the series. Let’s see what Adit had to say and how his new The Lockdown Sessions are doing.
Pratika: Through Blackblood India and United we Groove, you have done a total of 7 editions of The Lockdown Sessions. How did it feel to realize you have to temporarily shift live entertainment to online platforms? What were your thoughts?
Adit: As we have been experiencing this never-ending pandemic, where live events and the complete music industry has come to a standstill, with no form of official support we were affected as well. Even as a small D.I.Y music community. But that didn’t stop us from promoting music and musicians. Every major event in the country charged up their social network to keep up, coming up with an online version of their concerts in the form of streams virtually. I was very skeptical about the type of audio quality for heavy metal shows online would be, and had no idea. Nobody at the time knew OBS yet, or how things would work, because we know that most of the viewers would be watching these streams on their mobile phones.
So we planned United We Groove as a multi-genre property first. UWG already had a wide listening range audience that was organic, and it was apt at the time to begin there. We wanted to support artists with a ‘pay what you want’ opportunity, because many were affected by the downfall in the live music industry as a whole. While my friend Karan Yadav helped me curate the lineup for the first edition, Gavin Samuel and Kiran Desai from Team Blackblood were on Artwork duty and social media promotions respectively. We had rappers spitting fire, songwriters mesmerizing us with their melodies, and producers hypnotizing us with trippy synth attacks, we got a decent response. There were a few hiccups, but in the end it was smooth considering it being the first online stream series we ever did. Since then, many artists and musicians connected with us for a similar opportunity, and we did all in our will to support, make or bring a change for good.
While this was happening, we saw many international metal bands put up some quality streams using OBS, and other means, which gave Team Blackblood the courage to move towards hosting metalheads with the first online series of metal music gigs in india. The Blackblood virtual live was a kickstart! It was received quite well among metal audiences from all over India. The support and brotherhood was pure at heart as always . I’m very thankful for the kindness and continuous love that surrounds the community.
P: The sessions used to be on Instagram, originally. Why the shift to Facebook?
A: Facebook has easier ways to share the stream and increase the viewership organically, and so we shifted to Facebook.
P: Can you tell us the total number of artists and total contributions from people over the course of seven editions?
A: We’ve had a total of a 128 artists, and 382 contributors have contributed Rs. 1,74,385/- in total so far.
P: If this is the new normal, have you considered notching it up and doing a professional-level ticketed event indoors, broadcasted live online?
A: I really hope that this isn’t the new normal, and I would love for live gigs to come back. However, if the condition worsens or stays, we are prepared to adapt and progress with ticketed online events.
P: Do you use any sort of website to conduct these live streams, or do artists go live from the pages directly?
A: Artists go live from our page directly, we share the necessary access with them temporarily.
P: Are you fed up with indoor gigs? When the lockdown lifts, will we see another Blackblood comeback and a United We Groove gig?
A: I won’t say I am fed up, but they’re really no comparison to the real live experience. As I said earlier, I really want to go out there, watch a band destroy a venue with some real sonics, mosh it out, and grab a couple of chilled ones with friends from the community.