In conversation: Emmanuelle de Decker, Artistic Director, Nariyal Paani

French born Emmanuelle de Decker has been working in the music industry for more than fifteen years in cities like Paris, Tangier, Dublin, Seoul and moved to India in 2004. After programming live bands at blueFROG for five years, she started Gatecrash, an agency promoting live music events in India.


The artistic director of three festivals- the Goa International Jazz Live Festival, Nariyal Paani in Alibag and the Dhaka Jazz & Blues Festival, ‘Emma’ talks about her first love- Jazz!

Q- How and when did you enter the music scene in India?

I came to India in 2004, I worked at Alliance francaise de Calcutta as Deputy Director/Cultural Coordinator for two years. After that, I joined Saregama HMV for almost a year and then I moved to Mumbai to join blueFROG. I first handled blueFROG Records and artist management, and then handled Live Music Programming.

Q- The live music scene is evolving rapidly in India, what is the current scenario?

There are more festivals, more venues, which are all new and great platforms for bands. Audience is also more and more curious and interested in discovering new bands.

Q- You are the artistic director of three Jazz related music festivals. Why strictly Jazz?

That’s the thing, there's nothing "strict" about jazz and probably why I like it so much. Jazz is unpredictable, and is open to all the other music genres. Jazz musicians have collaborated with all kind of musicians, from hip-hop, electronica, Indian to African, the list has no limits.

I curate the Dhaka Jazz & Blues Festival, the Goa International Jazz Live Festival (which had everything from experimental, jazz-rock to Arabic world music and funk) and Nariyal Paani, which is not a jazz festival, but a festival curating new musical experiences, strong live performances, alternative and less represented music genres: indie pop, funk, ska, reggae, beatbox, hip-hop, singer-songwriters, etc.

Q- Jazz has a very loyal but relatively small audience. What is the trick to making a Jazz IP work?

High quality music, patience, perseverance, long-term planning, an element of surprise for the audience- especially the ones who think they don't like or understand ‘jazz’.

Q- There are several jazz music festivals that have mushroomed recently. Which ones are wired well according to you, other than the ones you are associated with?

I love the Jazz Fest in Kolkata and the Delhi Jazz Festival at Nehru Park.

Jodhpur RIFF has also started inviting jazz bands, and it's a really unique and amazing festival.

Q- How is the landscape changing in the live music scene and what are the opportunities ahead?

I sincerely hope that musicians become financially stable and can sustain themselves by composing and performing their own music. That is the key to keep making more music and creating magic

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