Pushing the tempo since the 80's: Brian Tellis


There are places I’ll remember.All my life, though some have changed.

Some forever, not for better. Some have gone and some remain.

All these places have their moments. With lovers and friends I still can recall.

Some are dead and some are living. In my life, I’ve loved them all.

The quaint old Beatle song strikes a consonant note as I sit down to write this. Growing up may now be far behind, but the people, places and moments it imprints in one’s mind and heart will always remain special. In the long journey of life (or at least in this case my own life),music will always remain my most consistent and special companion.

I have always considered myself to be extremely fortunate to have grown up in the vibrant and multi-cultural suburb of Bandra – a beautiful slice of this crazy city of Mumbai.This once quaint and leafy milieu has been the cradle of some of the finest talent of music specifically, and the arts at large.

It was Bandra’screatively fertile environmentthat personally helped me bloom, as it did so many others. It all began with impromptu weekend street jams and sing-songson terrace tops and at house parties. Constantly networked with like-minded friends, I developed an early love for music. Back in the day, the love affair launched with nostalgic vinyl. Cassettes – so passé today – were the premium of the day... prized possessions that you owned only if you were lucky enough to have a relative abroad. Then of course, technology gave us laser discs and VCDs, before cable came along and changed the entire dynamic.

My passion for music was as strong as my love for theatre. My thrust into the spotlight came by way of roles in musicals such as Joseph and the Amazing TechnicolourDreamcoat, Greased Lightning and Evita, to name a few. Meanwhile, with talented friends who shared my passion for music, we formed our own band Voices – Aid Bhopal amongst our biggest gigs.

Other musicians were also trying to make the scene and get some momentum going; but despite everyone’s best efforts, the independent music scene simply failed to get off the ground.

There were,however, green shoots of hope of a different kind. What began with The Police’s almost incognito gig in then Bombay back in 1980 would lead to a steady trickle in later years. Bryan Adams made India his stomping ground for a bit, while JethroTull, MLTR, Deep Purple, America, Bon Jovi and Michael Jackson made fleeting, but significant, stopovers too. Fan passion was being ignited.

TV helped expand our exposure to the world of music. I remember the marathon Live Aid concert being televised live (or at least some part of it) back in 1985. The arrival of satellite television in the 90skind of opened the floodgates as, for the first time, Indians could keep abreast with the latest in music, with negligible time lag in terms of releases.

FM happened almost simultaneously and suddenly we never had it better – endless hours of music programming, countdown shows, live banter... RJs were becoming the new celebrities.All this increased the appetite for music. CDs, DVDs and LDs were being voraciously lapped up.New-age music stores were the hip place to hang out.

And then the Internetblew everything out of proportion. Indians were now truly up-to-the-second with the latest trends in the world of music. YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, Twitter... there was no stopping us now.

Concerts,as a concept, sprung from this platform. Sunburn, Mahindra Blues Festival, Johnny Walker – The Journey, NH7... they all became potent properties for their owners and focal points for the fans.

All of this coalesced into an environment that opened up never before opportunities for the Indie scene. Local talent started to experience a warm acceptance and, more importantly, gained platforms to showcase their wares to music fans with now open minds.

But there’s still a long way to go. The way forward is to introduce larger volumes of audiences to newer music genres and to promote local independent artistes. Infrastructure will hold the key. We need to see the immediate development of new concert venues – both small and large. Radio, which now enjoys immense traction especially with younger audiences, can play a pivotal role here. It must allow quality local music to share space with international content.

Today’s youth and Gen Next will continue to consume music of their choice. They are a privileged generation with multiple mediums at their behest to explore and pick and choose from the very latest, as they please. Consumption mediums and patterns will continue to evolve and be defined by technology. The message is clear to providers of music content: Merge with evolving trends or be eased out.

About the author

Brian Tellis is the Chairman at Fountainhead Promotions and Events. He boasts of a multi-faceted career in the entertainment industry spread over three decades. Popular for hosting the Mahindra Blues Show on 94.3 FM he is also the man behind for organizing the Mahindra Blues Festival since 2011 in February each year.

Twitter Handle: @Brian_Tellis

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