Clubs in Chennai cater to the ‘covers crowd’. “Club owners want musicians to play covers of popular Tamil songs so that the audience can sing along to it,” says Manu Krishnan, who co-founded Metal Chennai along with Armaan RM. This sentiment, common among independent artistes, is what led to the duo kickstarting a new platform for independent musicians: Home Brewed. Its first edition will be held this weekend, with Chennai-based Jatayu and Siennor, and Mysuru-based Param performing.
“With Home Brewed, we are inviting anyone who plays independent original music. That’s our only criteria,” says Manu, who is also the drummer for Jatayu. Manu had started Metal Chennai as a means to re-acquaint the city with metal music, fighting against the popularity of genres like EDM. Every few months, they hold Brutal Carnage, a get together of metal bands at Geoffrey’s, in Hotel Radha Regent, Arumbakkam.
But now, Metal Chennai wants to branch out into everything indie. “The live scene in Chennai is poor as it is, there is no point further dividing the crowds into smaller factions based on genre,” says Manu. Home Brewed will now be alternated with Brutal Carnage each month. “There are no barriers here: hip hop, Hindustani progressive rock, Carnatic jazz, all styles are welcome,” he says.
For their first edition, they have invited Siennor, a city-based musician who shot to fame with his storytelling style of singing. He will be playing along with Goutham Healer on drums, Kabeeb on bass and KR Keerthirathan on percussion. “We are going for an underlying R&B soul theme. And we are also using the congos to get a Latin sound,” says Siennor. He will also be introducing two songs from his EP, Agappor, that releases next month.
“In most venues that independent artistes are invited to, they are expected to sing covers,” agrees Siennor. “And even if we can sing our original songs, the content is monitored, it can’t get too offensive or political,” he adds on the importance of free spaces such as Home Brewed.
Metal Chennai has also invited the band Param from Mysuru; Manu claims that getting one band from cities other than Chennai will be the norm for Home Brewed. “It is important that musicians here network with them, and understand the scene outside Chennai. Only then can the industry grow,” he says.
Strengthening the music industry is his broader goal in starting Home Brewed. He has been a part of the Chennai music scene for 15 years, and plays for Jatayu, metal band Chaos, and The Casteless Collective. “I know what our options as artistes are, how little we get paid,” he claims. That is why he has stepped into the shoes of an organiser. “All of us, from different genres, need to come together. Each of us has a separate crowd that we draw. So if we are all on the same platform, the industry can grow around it,” he believes.
Home Brewed will be held at Geoffrey’s Pub, Arumbakkam on October 26, from 7.30 pm to 11.30 pm.