With SoFar Sounds, a platform that aims at producing original music, coming close to home this month, Café speaks with Nupura Hautamäki, the City Lead for the enterprise in Goa, and gets the scoop on what is in store for the state
There has been much hemming and hawing over what does and doesn’t exist in the general sphere when it comes to support and infrastructure for young and upcoming musicians and performers, and there is plenty of reason for that to soon cease, courtesy an initiative that is finally making its way to Goa. For the uninitiated, SoFar Sounds is a world music organisation that gets artistes and listeners together. It is a London-based company that specialises in arranging secret events in private homes. Each city has a leader (organiser) responsible for booking bands and private locations for their concerts. Active in many cities worldwide, Goa is set to open its own chapter (as the units are known) later this month, on October 22.The idea behind the endeavour is to encourage musicians to put forth their original music, which is targeted at a niche/ specific intimate audience. While the platform is usually free, often voluntary donations are accepted. The spaces that are looked at, in terms of venues, are usually spaces such as living rooms, because they provide a more intimate experience. For interested attendees who wish to be a part of a SoFar concert, the process is an easy one. When registrations open, you log in, add your details, and specify how many people would like to attend with you. You will later be notified if you have made it to the guest list. Once confirmed, you do another registration and you’re done. Recently, about 1,000 artistes participated in private concerts across 60 countries, as a part of ‘Give a Home for Human Rights’, a concert series collaboration between Amnesty International, the world’s largest human rights organisation, and SoFar Sounds. Starting in Auckland and ending in Los Angeles, of the 300 shows, 100 were held in the United States. Notable artistes who performed included Ed Sheeran (in Washington DC), Ani DiFranco (in New Orleans), The National (in Edinburgh, Rudimental (in London), Jake Bugg (in Nottingham), Hozier (in Dublin), and Moby (in LA), to name a few.
HERALD CAFÉ: Why was now the right time for SoFar Sounds to enter Goa?
NUPURA HAUTAMÄKI: SoFar has wanted to enter Goa for a while. They were looking for someone who could spearhead it, as they did not want to enter and then shut shop soon after, since it is a volunteer driven platform. Also, one has to organise a minimum of one gig every month, which means listening to a lot of artistes, managing bookings, finding different venues, marketing the show and much more. Right now, SoFar Goa consists of only three volunteers including myself, so I am hoping that we will have many more supporting us.
HC: Goa has a notoriously small pool of singer-songwriters. How can SoFar help to elicit change on this front?
NH: When I moved to Goa, I thought, with the huge number of musicians here, I would have no trouble finding artistes for SoFar. I learnt that it is not easy to find original content, as the pool is very small. But the audience is also missing for it. The success of SoFar in the 11 other places in India proves otherwise, and I’m hoping that the people who really enjoy live music and good content in Goa will attend SoFar shows. A SoFar show is not just about original content, it is also about bringing the magic back to live music. It is a great platform for new artistes to take their content and make it heard globally, as we have some quarter of a million subscribers on our YouTube channel. Not to mention that once you have performed at a SoFar gig in your home city, as an artiste, you can perform in any other city. Not just in India, but in the world. A lot of the musicians that are well known today started with SoFar.
HC: Did the Goa shows need to be tweaked in any way, in order to meet the needs of the target audience here, or is the same international template being followed?
NH: I guess the SoFar Goa team will learn along the way and see what and how we need to tweak things to meet the needs of the target audience. Of course there is an international template, like the artistes and the venue location being kept secret and the guests having to register on the gig site to be able to attend an event, so that we can curate the guests that attend, or keep the content only to original music and not repeat artistes. But again, I feel that SoFar works not just globally, but also in the other places in India because of these things; and not just in big cities like Bombay or Delhi but even in smaller places like Imphal, or Dimapur in Nagaland where SoFar is already active. So I see no reason why it won’t work here in its current format.
HC: If there is inadequate response from the market, will there be a repetition of performers, a rise in performers coming in from beyond Goa, or will SoFar pull the plug altogether? What’s the long term plan for Goa?
NH: I really believe in SoFar, and think it is a wonderful platform for not just musicians, but even audiences. I am looking at Sofar only growing in Goa, as we will also be using loads of artistes that visit Goa during the tourist season. Since we made the Goa page live, we have already had some 50 plus artistes from across the country and the world get in touch to perform with SoFar Goa. I have also had a lot of Goan origin artistes who now live in other places get in touch to perform with SoFar in Goa since they come here to visit often. I am hoping that once we do a few shows, more and more local artistes will come forth, and even take up doing original content. Plus another artiste, Vince Costa, told me that colleges would be a great place to find new Goan talent. So I am also hoping to try and visit colleges to catch all these young and budding musicians who have some amazing skills and offer them this platform. I am also hoping that Konkani singers, percussionists, ghummot players, fadistas, basically all forms and genres of Goan musicians come and perform at SoFar, so that we never have to repeat an artiste. And though SoFar has a lot of musicians, it is also a platform for budding stand-up comedians, poets or spoken word artistes, electronic music content and lots more, so I’m definitely hoping to reach out to all these artistes.
HC: What can Goa expect from the first SoFar gig, later this month?
NH: I am hoping that we can provide a totally immersive experience, some amazing music, some surprises and magic too hopefully.
One can go to the link below to apply for a seat to attend a show:
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