x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Making local music accessible

q&a Srivatsan Chari is one of the founders of ShouScene.com, a site about the UAE's emerging local music scene.

Srivatsan Chari set up the website ShouScene.com to give people information about the local music scene.
Srivatsan Chari set up the website ShouScene.com to give people information about the local music scene.

Srivatsan Chari is one of the founders of ShouScene.com, a site about the UAE's emerging local music scene.

a In December of last year, my friend Shaneez Hameed and I were talking a lot about the fact that there is no information online about the local gigs that are happening. Even the artists themselves usually don't have websites. There's the Phride.com forums, but for people who don't know Phride, people who are newcomers, people who don't want to navigate through 10 pages of posts to find out when the next gig by whoever is, or who is releasing what when... there was nothing. In January we started working on the site, and by the 1st of March it was launched.

Yes, we've had about 9,000 page views in less than four months, which seems pretty good.

There are no gigs now. People will be going on vacation. And it's always students who organise gigs. Ampulance and Project E, organisations like that, are all college students.

Well, there might be some gigs this month. It's pretty informal. If someone has a venue, they put it up on Phride, then bands sign up to perform, and it's only ever a week before the gig that they announce it and the prices and the timing. And this is all on the forum, so the attendees are always just guys from the forum.

Well, we're going to have a featured band every so often. We have Indiephone up now, and I've just finished an interview with Gandhi's Cookbook, a ska band. We also have a radio section where you can hear local bands. And I'm working on something called The Netlabel, which will basically have downloads of local albums from the last four or five years, all for free, as long as the artists agree.

Well, first of all, most fans of the local scene are aged between 15 and 20, so they usually don't have credit cards. Anyway, barely anyone knows about these bands. Everyone who knows them has been to their shows and bought their CDs there.

Most have between 100 and 200 people attending. But a few recent ones that have been well-publicised, like the show Ampulance organised at the Canadian University of Dubai, have had more like 400 people attending.

Well, that's the biggest problem. It's tough to get a venue. Most people aren't really interested in giving a venue for rock music. They frown on the idea of rock music, and associate it with some kind of destruction and violent behaviour. Plus most people don't think it's really useful in a financial way. And most venues are in hotels, like the Majestic, but those only allow people over 21, so most of the real fans don't get to attend. So things have to happen outdoors somewhere, or in someone's villa.

There's a huge variety of genres. There's a lot of extreme metal, lots of death metal and lots of thrash metal. You have quite a few punk bands. Then there are prog rock bands like Swiftheartrabbit, Behold the Locust, the Butterspoon Experiment. You have rock bands like Sun King and Indiephone. And lots of ska bands.

It's tough to say. Probably the Sun Kings. And Gandhi's Cookbook. I like ska. I also listen to a lot of folk metal, Scandinavian bands like Kortiklaani and Agalooch that play their own folk instruments, then mix that stuff with guitars and bass.

Mostly from downloads. Virgin is decent, but it's mostly the internet, including MySpace.