EARS on Mumbai 2018: 16 – 17 November

EARS on Mumbai 2018 invites you again to the Maximum City in November this year. EARS on Mumbai 2017 and its stimulating keynotes, panels and performances amongst cultural practicioners from Asia and Europe set up a stage for dynamic discussions and brought forward numerous potential ideas for exchange and collaboration. We’re thrilled to take these thoughts further when working on the second edition of EARS on Mumbai, 16-17 November 2018.

EARS on Mumbai will cover wide variety of topics within the creative industry with a special focus on performing arts, music, movies and media. We’re already working on setting up an artist exchange platform and connections to funding mechanisms in Europe – more info on this will follow. In case you missed it, take a look to the EARS on Mumbai 2017 documentary to get a glimpse on what to expect. More info on the event and speakers to follow soon!

Ashvin Mani Sharma: “Our scene is musically comparable to anywhere in the world”

We speak to EARS on Mumbai speaker Ashvin Mani Sharma, techno DJ, producer and composer under the moniker Calm Chor, co-founder of Soupherb Records, and the erstwhile Jalebee Cartel with friend and artist, Ash Roy.


Interview by Anisha Tiwary


Ashvin, what made you want to start your own label?

Well, actually it’s a lot of work and dedication that goes into it and I was not ready for this. My partner Ash Roy convinced me and was going to do it anyway so then I jumped in. Since then it has been one of the joys of my life. Finding amazing tracks and artists and being able to give them a platform worthy of their talent not just in India but worldwide is very satisfying.

What do you think of the underground electronic music landscape that exists in India right now? How does Soupherb Records plan to impact it?

We have been part of this landscape as DJ’s and artists for close to 20 years where we have worn different hats to do different things. This landscape has been crafted in part by us anyway and the label was our last addition to the scene. The underground is always thriving everywhere… there are such amazing young artists in India that it’s mind boggling. The governments’ regressive policies on entertainment and nightlife are directly impacting the livelihood of the venues and that in turn gets handed down to the artists. The underground scene is vibrant in terms of music and creativity. It needs more outlets for it and we are showcasing music from the subcontinent to the rest of the world through our label.

From co-founding Soupherb and previously Jalebee Cartel, and live electronica project Bit of Both – Ash Roy and you have a strong collaborative history. How has it been working with him, as a friend, and an artist?

Been the best experience of my life! Knowing that you can totally depend on someone personally and professionally is a God given gift.

You’ve toured extensively in Germany, apart from other parts of the world, including performing at the Burning Man. Where is it that you’ve found some of the most interesting, newer music? And audience?

For me, Berlin is the underground electronic music capital of the world. It is here that I find inspiration year after year, where artists are constantly pushing the boundaries of performance and art with their music. Definitely the best audience as well!

How would you compare the Indian dance music scene to the scene abroad – how is it different, where is it now, and what do you think is next?

Currently we have a scene that is comparable musically to anywhere in the world. It’s just that the government has not supported the industry by standardizing licenses and laws for venues or zoning. Until this happens the scene cannot progress.

Lastly, what are you looking forward to at EARS on Mumbai 2017

I’m really looking forward to a smaller and cosier conference where one is not lost in a sea of people and we can really connect with the delegates. Also looking for inspiration from the performance arts will be fun.

See the EARS on Mumbai Music Track and Speakers here. For more info and latest updates, order our newsletter.

Photojean-daniel pauget / CC BY 2.0

Justin Sweeting: “We’re hoping for great music to come from this period.”

We speak with EARS on Mumbai speaker, the name behind Magnetic Asia and Hong Kong’s biggest music festival Clockenflap. Justin Sweeting has worked for over 15 years in the music industry, primarily in Asia. Connecting the dots between Asia and the global industry at large, Justin enjoys spreading the word on the region’s music potential and is actively involved in its positive evolution.


Interview by Anisha Tiwary


Justin, tell us about the music scene in Hong Kong now, compared to 10 years ago, when you first started Clockenflap.

We’re still in a state of development and growth, and it’s all about cumulative baby steps forwards. Clockenflap occupies just one piece of the puzzle though we need many others to all click into place before we have a fully functioning, sustainable music scene.

You’re well traveled – constantly attending conferences and festivals around the world with a solid background in the music industry both in Hong Kong and UK. What do you think is unique about the music industry in the Hong Kong?

I’d say there are more things in common with other scenes in similar states of development rather than differences or unique characteristics. Hong Kong is an expensive city to live in, and so for artists it makes it that much more challenging to be able to dedicate the time needed to their craft whilst earning livings. Of course, this isn’t a challenge unique to HK, though it is amplified here with the high cost of living, and a general lack of clear infrastructure to help artists to develop step by step.

What are some of the sub genres of music that are unique to the scene in Hong Kong – where do you think that HK’s musical potential lies on a global level?

Some of the things I like best about HK relate to its multi-culturalism and the combination of east meets west, old meets new. It’s that melding of influences and turning it out as something uniquely local that is the potential. As a city we’re going through a time where there are a lot of people really unhappy with current directions and the prospects of the future. Often, tough times politically and socially can prove highly inspiring times creatively, so we are hoping that there is truly great music, art, poetry and such coming out of this period and true voices of generations come out which can capture this mood sincerely and authentically.

What are some of the sources of inspirations behind Clockenflap – festivals, artists and shows from around the world?

We draw inspiration from all over, both locally and internationally through all facets of our lives. There’s no one driving influence except our overriding vision for Clockenflap.  We’re fortunate that we are able to travel a fair bit for work and experience things across the world, and it’s our job to take those perspectives, mix them around with our own lens and apply it so we ultimately have something unique we can offer festival goers on our side.

What do you think is the next step for Clockenflap – since you are pioneers of the scene in Hong Kong, where do you plan to take it next?

The ultimate vision behind Clockenflap hasn’t changed since day one, so that will always continue along same themes.  Though within that remit, the fun bit is finding new and interesting ways to keep it fresh and moving forwards, and that’s what is in our DNA and why we do what we do.  We always are in the process of continuous improvement and reimagning.  I can’t see that ever changing, or at least if it does, it will probably be time to stop!

What have you been listening to most recently?

It’s constantly evolving, though if I look at the tracks I’ve been listening to this past week, it includes: Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, Gym and Swim, The National, King Krule, NYPD, Jay som and many others.

Lastly, what do you look forward to at EARS on Mumbai 2017?

It’s my first ever trip to India, so I’m delighted to have been invited, and really looking forward to meeting great people and discovering new local music – and of course the food!


See the EARS on Mumbai Music Track and Speakers here. For more info and latest updates, order our newsletter.


Photo: byronv2 / CC BY-NC 2.0

Q: “We need more producers who see cinema as more than entertainment”

In conversation with EARS on Mumbai speaker, experimental independent filmmaker and rapper, Quashiq Mukherjee aka Q – best known for groundbreaking work in the Indian independent cinema scene. His team, Oddjoint, pioneered resource management and co-production in Indian independent films.


Interview by Anisha Tiwary


You have been a pioneer in the experimental independent cinema sector in India, with your own production house. What are your thoughts on the current scenario in terms of new work being created and distribution in the country?

It is a weird and volatile time. Clearly we are in the middle of a massive shift in terms of social practices, to add to the tectonic technical shift with the world going digital. The euphoria about cheap digital process and online distribution revolutionising independent content, that was palpable even two years back, is being questioned as we speak. I do think new work coming out of India is getting more and more edgier and nuanced. But popular culture is also hard at work to appropriate whatever is original and has teeth. The new digital platforms are opening up a brand-new space to create contemporary content that will be socially and politically relevant. However the political climate is one of extreme  chaos, and the commercial mindset of Indian media houses are not entirely conducive to content as statement. It’s going to be an exciting and twisted next three years.

Do you think film festivals worldwide have contributed to the growth of the independent sector? Do they truly offer valuable business opportunities?

Yes, festivals are the backbone of the independent spirit. Whether music or  art or film, festivals are spaces which ‘Q rate’ and nurture new voices and forms. Most bigger festivals have understood the value of direct interaction with the marketplace. Over time some of them have become simply over a marketplace more than a festival. But yes, festivals are places that offer networking opportunities creating relationships that foster new work. This cannot be denied.

What are your thoughts on the digital medium taking over conventional distribution for indie filmmakers – and what do you think is the next step in digital distribution?

I for one have been waiting for this day to come. Having never been a fan of traditional distribution for independent films especially in a place like India, which is highly morally superficial and volatile. As we all know we have an antique censorship system, which effectively stops any critical piece from entering the mainstream distribution circuit. So clearly digital distribution is the way forward. However, every day, our authoritative administration works to block individual freedom in the digital domain. Aided by huge corporate digital players, The establishment is trying to contain and control what goes online. For truly independent artists, the fight for digital freedom is an everyday affair.

What are the opportunities for co-productions being developed for Indian filmmakers?

There are quite a few in fact. Many European countries have coproduction treaties is with us, and there are funds and facilities that can be accessed if one goes and spend enough time and effort to network and connect with this Community. There is still one huge issue, since India does not have any media or in public funding, which is often a crucial starting point for coproductions. A lot of Indian independent companies, including mine, have been able to somehow work past the bureaucratic issues and complete a successful coproduction.

What do you think is the future of the Indian independent film scene in our country?

It is completely up to the filmmakers. Since there is a general antipathy towards pure content in India. The general test has been commercialised and trivialised by Bollywood sensibilities. The economics of independent films often seem to be truly daunting, especially with the lack of domestic distribution. We need more producers who can understand and appreciate cinema as something that is more than simply entertainment. I don’t mean investors, I mean producers who are filmmakers in their own rights.

Lastly, what are you looking forward to the most at EARS on Mumbai 2017?

I am looking forward to the secret sessions. There will be some surprises there.


See the EARS on Mumbai Film and Media Track and Speakers here. For more info and latest updates, order our newsletter.


Photo: Bekah Cope / CC BY-ND 2.0

Mandeep Raikhy: “I wanted to use dance as a way to speak up”

We speak to EARS on Mumbai speaker Mandeep Raikhy, leading dance practitioner based in Delhi, best known for his works Inhabited Geometry (2010), a male ant has straight antennae (2013) and Queen Size (2016). Mandeep has been working as Managing Director at Gati Dance Forum since 2009.


Interview by Anisha Tiwary


Mandeep, in your view, how has contemporary dance evolved in India in the last 10 years?

I think the contemporary dance scene has grown in multiple ways. One, it has had a whole lot of young artists coming in with a very different set of questions – some around the traditional practices that they have been trained in; in pushing the boundaries of their forms, and some with regards to the relationship that the audience has with the performer; really challenging what performance is to the entire country. While others are making direct linkages to the social political environment through their performances. There’s been a whole lot of work around activism in the last ten years. So it has been quite wonderful because finally, the dance practices in the country have been able to look at identity, dissent and form in exciting ways. Before this, it wasn’t this way – though of course there have been landmark practitioners who have changed the way we’ve looked at dance over the years.

How do you think that this features in the global context?

I think contemporary dance is at different points around different parts of the world. In Europe, for example, a ceiling has been reached – around the kind of questions that are being asked, around the process, around the body and one now is really looking for (new) reference points. You can feel that it’s a bit stuck – it has been through all kinds of upheavals; taking choreography away from the body, making it a little more conceptual, and everything. So you can sense the standstill and it’s an exciting moment. In India, I feel like we’re beginning to generate a kind momentum now – through asking the questions that are now being asked…and that’s exciting too. We’re far away from hitting a ceiling.

Definitely. Even your piece Queen Size, makes a political comment, and moves beyond creative expression. What made you choreograph it?

A couple of years ago, the BJP government had just come into power, and about a year later there was a whole lot of upheaval with artists returning their awards as resistance – saying that the government must respond to these acts of violence towards these individuals, especially the minorities. I sensed this sort of discomfort – you could see that dance was in a way locked up with the institutions, with the State, in a way where it couldn’t really stand up against it. I think it has very much to do with patronage, the fact that dance has been supported mostly by the State, and also because dance by itself is linked very much to the national identity in this country – you know, at independence, dance became this sort of image of what India is, and it’s rich history, and it got locked up there, and the State kept it that way. In a way, therefore, it’s really hard for practitioners to speak up. I felt this desire for dance to become autonomous in some sense – in a way that it could be used to speak up. And that was my response with Queen Size.

Another challenge that dancers face today is spaces to perform at – venues, per say. What are your thoughts on this, what’s lacking and how could it get better?

The one thing about our field is that there are very few curated spaces for dance across the country – I can name a few but they’re not really accessible. Which means that mostly when dancers perform, they wait to be invited – where maybe the one and a half festivals in India would invite them over 2-3 years to perform, or they may not. They can also get their own money, hire an auditorium, ticket the event, and the ticketed event can never pay for the cost of the auditorium. But you could go down that route and do it once a year. So I also in a way (through Queen Size) responded to our performance ecology being full of commercial spaces, even though we have so many spaces that were set up by the government in the 70s and 80s. These spaces have ended up becoming commercial ventures under certain management. The artist, hence, has to choose to either do one show a year, or change the ecology. I really wanted to take it into my hands and say that I’m excited by the possibility of work that is more mobile, work that is dependent on the self – and not on hiring lights, equipment. I was also interested in taking work to settings where even theatre wouldn’t go. Because there are three to four hundred people in a city, typically, who visit theatres to watch contemporary dance – then how do you make your work more accessible? How do you change its context, and how do you begin to really take it to different kind of people – these are the questions that I’ve been dealing with. There are a whole lot of practitioners now who are dealing with the exact same thing. There has been an outburst of work that do not belong to the theatre any more – I think it’s also a collective response to our ecology. We have to take it into our hands.

Thanks Mandeep – lastly, what do you look forward to at EARS on Mumbai this year?

I’m interested in spaces where people come together to share where they’ve reached, as far as our ecology is concerned. I’m very excited to meet a whole lot of people from various parts of the world and know all that they’re thinking about!


See the EARS on Mumbai Performing Arts Track and Speakers here. For more info and latest updates, order our newsletter.


Photosilhouettesgem / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Arjun Vagale: “We are just scratching the surface”

We had a talk with EARS on Mumbai speaker Arjun Vagale, a DJ, producer, owner of artist management agency UnMute and electronic music school I Love Music Academy, and co-owner of the label ODD Recordings, about the electronic music scene in India.

Interview by Anisha Tiwary


Arjun, you’re keeping busy expanding your reach worldwide; from performing at Magnetic Fields in India for the first time this year, as well as the Awakening Festival in the Netherlands. What keeps you going?

I just love music – and all things attached to it. I’m obsessed with it! Ever since I decided to turn this passion into a profession, I’ve dived deep and immersed myself in all its facets. Without true passion, I don’t think one can succeed in this business.

You’ve pioneered the underground electronic music scene in India – what are your thoughts on the current Indian music landscape?

I think India is at a great place right now – the scene is vibrant and there are a lot of promoters and collectives doing great things to push us forward. Apart from the obvious names, it’s the smaller cities that have really impressed me. We are just scratching the surface – there’s a lot more to be discovered.

What do you think is the next trend in the Indian dance music scene?

Honestly I’m not into trends – it has always been, and will always be about good quality music!

You’re the first South Asian to be signed onto internationally acclaimed label Drumcode – what are your thoughts about it, and the creative exchanges between Indian contemporary musicians and those abroad?

Signing to Drumcode is a major milestone for any artist, and I’m super proud of it. I also hope this paves the way for the future generation of producers in India and Asia. Electronic music has no language and geography is not an excuse anymore.

What are some sub genres of music that are unique to the Indian music scene and have immense collaborative potential? 

For many years, infusing electronic music with Indian classical instruments was a thing! I believe that today it’s not necessary to force your heritage into the music you want to play and produce – the world is open.

What are you looking forward to the most at the EARS on Mumbai 2017?

It’s always great to see new initiatives within the business, and EARS has a great angle, so I’m looking forward to the talks and sessions in Mumbai.

Lastly, name some South Asian artists and collectives to look out for. 

There are so many  – Kohra, BLOT, Film, DOTDAT, Joba, The Krunk crew, Mixtape, AFE… the list goes on!


Kohra, aka Madhav Shorey and the KRUNK founder Sohail Arora are also EARS on Mumbai speakers.

See the EARS on Mumbai Music Track and Speakers here. For more info and latest updates, order our newsletter.


Photo by Joe Flood CC BY 2.0

EARS 2017: Film and Media Track

At EARS on Mumbai 2017, we’re digging deep into the film and media sector with not only panels and presentations, but also screenings, special encounter sessions looking at the individual works of our speakers, and secret screenings.




Quashiq Mukherjee, Filmmaker, Rapper

Deepa Gahlot, Journalist, Curator

Pawan Kumar, Filmmaker, Screenwriter

Kati Nuora, Founder, CEO, Creative Export Innovations

Helene Ouvrard, Organiser, Vientianale International Film Festival

Sameer Mody, Managing Director, Pocket Films

Gurpal Singh, Co-Founder, BYOFF

Sridhar Rangayan, Filmmaker, Festival Director & Activist

Janne Niskala, Producer, Managing Director, Vaski Filmi Ltd.

Sanjay Ram, Journalist, Film Critic, Co-Founder, Basil Content Media


…and more! To stay up to date on all program info and announcements, order our newsletter here.

Want to join us? Register here.


EARS 2017: Performing Arts Track

In Performing Arts, EARS on Mumbai 2017 will look at alternate spaces, international collaboration, programming, and dance development, and take the topics from the panels and encounter sessions to practice with the showcases of Mixed Arts, Spoken Word, Physical and Dance Theatre.






Parmesh Shahani, Founder, Head, Godrej Culture Lab

Kirsi Mustalahti, Founder, Chairwoman, Accessible Arts and Culture Association

Sameera IyengarCo-Founder, Junoon

Kai Amberla, Executive Director, Finland Festivals

Nimi RavindranCo-Founder, Sandbox Collective

Avantika Bahl, Contemporary Dancer

Mandeep Raikhy, Managing Director, Gati Dance Forum

Preethi Athreya, Dancer, Choreographer

Sujay Saple, Artistic Director, ShapeShift Collective

Sasu Paakkunainen, CEO, ACCAC Global, Co-Founder, Slush Music

Petteri Jakobsson, CEO, Maracat Caravan

June Tan, Producer, Five Arts Centre



…and more! To stay up to date on all program info and announcements, order our newsletter here.

Want to join us? Register here.

EARS 2017: Music Track

The cherry on top of the Music Panels, Encounter Sessions and Masterclass of the Music Track at EARS on Mumbai 2017 is not round and red, but wavy and free-form – namely, the Showcases on electronic music, jazz and modular synth on the 6th, 7th and 8th of December!





Emmanuelle de Decker, Founder, GATECRASH

Sohail Arora, Founder, Director, KRUNK

Acho Ji, Business Development Manager, S.T.D.

Colin D’Cruz, Jazz musician

Ren Yuqing, Founder, CEO, JZ Music

Benji Rogers, CEO, Co-Founder, dotBlockChain Media

Atul Churamani, Managing Director, Turnkey Music & Publishing

Arjun Vagale, DJ, Producer

Sasu Paakkunainen, Co-Founder, Content Director, Slush Music

Ashvin Mani Sharma, DJ, Producer, Composer

Ash Roy, Producer, DJ

Kai Amberla, Executive Director, Finland Festivals

Tej Brar, Founder, Director, Third Culture Entertainment

Justin Sweeting, Co-Founder, Music Director, Magnetic Asia

Danny Keir, Director, Business Development, Sound Diplomacy

John Stratton, Founder, CEO, FutureONE

Ketan Bahirat, Producer

Laiq Qureshi, Founder, Urban Beat Project

Indra Ameng, Program Coordinator, ruanggrupa, Festival Director, RRREC Fest

Ashish Jose, Producer

Madhav Shorey, DJ, Producer

Rafael Pereira, Founder, Cadre Project Support Solutions

Sjam Sjamsoedin, Artist

Juha Ruusunen, Senior Manager, Business Development, Sony Music Entertainment Finland

Christian Schwanz, Producer, DJ

Alex Grigg, Executive Director for Music, BC Industry Association

Ankita Roy, Artist Manager, The Bartender

V.G. Jairam, Co-Founder, Fountainhead MKTG & Oranjuice Ent.

Josh Carr Hilton, CEO, The District

Tarun Nayar, Musician, Co-Founder, Delhi 2 Dublin

Anu Anna George, Artist Manager, Mixtape



…and more! To stay up to date on all program info and announcements, order our newsletter here.

Want to join us? Register here.

EARS 2017: Digital

With Film and Media, Music and Performing Arts being the three main tracks at EARS on Mumbai 2017, digital is the strand connecting them all. 


Future of independent content on digital platforms
What are the emerging trends in the demand for independent content on digital platforms? What are the factors driving such demand? Where does the content creator stand in this equation with the content platforms? Are there hidden factors that might affect the content creators? How can content creators monetise their work through such platforms?

Digital consumers
Increasingly content is being published digitally and loads of content is being produced to address this demand. But where are the consumers/audience? What the patterns in consumption of digital content? How is this pattern influencing the strategy of digital platform?

Role of social media in shaping the presence of independent content
Going digital with content, also requires a well-designed social media plan to achieve the desired result in terms of the content being visible, the artist getting their due recognition and translating this recognition into tangible results. Multitude of digital marketing agencies and social media managers are getting busy with plans for grabbing this moment. What are the real questions that the content creator needs to ask before engaging such strategies? How can these agencies and managers empower the content creator, enhance their monetisation options and build a new generation of followers?