Spotlight on IndiEarth XChange 2016

IndiEarth XChange is an annual trade fair for independent music, film and media professionals, bringing them together to network, connect, engage, and present their work through panel discussions, workshops and live showcases. The festival is an EarthSync (record label/producer) initiative, headed by Sastry Karra, Sonya Mazumdar, Yotam Agam and Kris Karra.

The fifth edition of XChange took place at The Park, Chennai on November 26–27, with over three hundred delegates and performing artists in attendance. This year, our founder Manojna Yeluri (who has attended three consecutive XChanges prior to this edition) was accompanied by our research associate Tarini Siddhartha.

Structure of the Trade Festival:

All through the day, the delegates were kept occupied with various conferences, workshops, film screenings and music performances. On both days, the events commenced at around 11 a.m., continuing through the night, into the wee hours of the morning.


Conference sessions: There were panel discussions on topics such as the promotion, marketing and release of alternative cinema, music education and its interaction with the music industry, various approaches to content and trend creation in arts journalism, and discussions on niche festivals in unconventional spaces with specific audiences.

Workshops: The workshops were designed to be engaging and interactive, headed by one expert in a specific field. For instance, Yotam Agam, an acclaimed music producer and sound engineer, held a session on working with different instruments, sounds and samples, intended for recording in studios or playing live; singer-songwriter, Vasudha Sharma, demonstrated the various techniques of live-looping; and our very own founder, Manojna Yeluri, conducted a workshop on artist rights in new mediums.


Film Screenings: There were national and international films showcased in the screening room — some short, and others feature-length. Films exhibited dealt with topics including the portrayal of the LGBT community as a taboo (Oh My Soul), the world of Yakshagana performers (YKT Mumbai), the life of a tormented poet (Rong’ Kuchak) and the free spirit and the quest for happiness (Kusturica Dream).

Music: Live music performances started at around six in the evening and the delegates got their dancing shoes on for some catchy tunes. There was a well-balanced mix of genres from acoustic singer-songwriters to EDM producers. Some of the artists at XChange were Pratik & Vinayak, Vidya Shah, Sauvage Sound System, and the headlining act of the weekend, Nucleya.


Artistik License at IndiEarth XChange:

This was our fourth year at IndiEarth XChange, and we were excited to reconnect with old friends and make some new ones too! Our workshop was on artist rights in new mediums, where we discussed upcoming innovative and contemporary art and music forms, correlating them with the current laws in force.

The workshop participants were a particularly enthusiastic bunch (which we loved!), and they shared their own woes and clashes with the law. There was a mix of creative professionals such as singers, film-makers, screenwriters and dancers, who narrated their experiences, and several audience members were able to relate to the problems they faced.


It was a productive workshop where the ancient and stagnant laws protecting (or rather, not effectively protecting) these mediums were criticized, and the suggestions made by these professionals were noted. They thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and the discussions continued even after the session had culminated — always a good sign!

Our overall opinion on IndiEarth XChange 2016:

IndiEarth XChange is a fantastic platform and we have said so in the past as well here, here and here. Here are a few of our favourite moments from this year’s sessions and performances.

“Music Education: For, with or despite the Music Industry?” conducted by Dr. Kristina Kelman (Queensland University of Technology), Aditya Balani (Global Music Institute, New Delhi), Nakul Krishnamurthy and Adam Greig (KM Music Conservatory, Chennai), was an insightful session from the perspectives of a teacher, a student and someone from the music industry, as to the requirement and role of music education for one entering the field of producing and recording music.


– “Artist Management 101” by Tej Brar from OML was a particularly useful workshop, where he provided handy tips required for getting into a contractual arrangement, from both the artist’s and manager’s points of view.

A Good Day to Die, Hoka Hey was one of our favourite films screened. Directed by Harold Monfils and produced by Sastry Karra, this film took six long years to make, and it was completely worth it. The film is a biography of a conflict/war photojournalist, Jason Howe which runs through a series of photographs he took in Iraq, Colombia and Afghanistan, the people he encountered and the trauma he faced pursuant to the horrors of war he witnessed.


The screening was followed by a Q&A session with the director, Monfils, which was an added bonus as he had an uncanny sense of humour and was an absolute delight.


– Vidya Shah, Organic Bananas, Abhi Tambe, Gliding Arc and Dossers Urge — these were our five favourite live music performances. Vidya Shah and Abhi Tambe were absolute charmers and got us craving for more music. Organic Bananas introduced us to the quirkiest instrument of the year, the hurdy-gurdy, and they mixed and looped the music LIVE, which was a breath of fresh air!


While these were a few best moments from our weekend at IndiEarth XChange, two points of constructive criticism (to be taken with a pinch of salt) from our end are — first, reduce the excessive overlap of panel discussions and workshops; and second, assign a writer (journalist or blogger) to each conference room to take notes, so that a report on XChange can be published. More media coverage never hurts.


Overall, it was a great weekend, and we are very grateful to the organising team who put in a tremendous amount of effort into making the event run smoothly, in spite of the rough year Chennai has endured. A big thank you to the team and we cannot wait for next year’s IndiEarth XChange!

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