While the annual music festival Bangalore Open Air is the go-to destination for metalheads in India, its founder Salman U. Syed has taken a different turn with a new conference project, Let Women Do the Talking (LWDTT). Conceptualized by Syed, Miriam Hensel of Wacken Open Air metal festival and co-hosted by New Delhi talent company Big Bad Wolf, LWDTT hit the capital on June 24-25.
The Mumbai leg on June 28-29, followed by the Bengaluru edition on July 2 arrive this week, inviting artist managers, promoter label heads, musicians, journalists and more to discuss options , obstacles and areas that need more inclusiveness and transparency in the Indian and global music industry for women.
Organized in association with the US Embassy – which provided a grant to organize workshops, programs and performances for LWDTT – the event also includes a performance by Los Angeles-based Guns N’ Roses tribute band, Paradise Kitty, in the three cities.
Joy King, Head of Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in India, adds, “We are truly excited to have the opportunity to implement this program, which was conceptualized before the pandemic began. At the crossroads of art, industry and inspiration, this program will allow women to seek opportunities in the music industry and learn from global experts. We believe Let Women Do the Talking will empower women through creative and artistic expression and foster inclusive economic growth by encouraging women’s participation in India’s burgeoning music industry.
Hensel, who has had a long association with Bangalore Open Air (BOA), says she considers LWDTT to be an “extremely important” event, like all cultural events. She adds: “Intercultural education has exceptional social significance because it reflects social debate. It is incredibly exciting and valuable to exchange ideas and also to know and understand the different cultural influences in the different areas of work. It is also interesting for all genders. Just because there are women talking here doesn’t mean it’s about women’s issues – quite the contrary, it’s about the hard facts of the music industry and more.
Metal Blade Records President Tracy Vera is in India for LWDTT and represents one of the most veteran labels in heavy music. She says, “This will be my first visit to India, but I hope it won’t be my last. What drew me to participate was the premise itself of promoting women in the industry and the participation of Miriam Hensel whom I admire, and the chance to get to know, spend time and to network with other inspiring women from abroad and in the industry in India. .” Along with sharing her experiences running a record label, Vera says she will delve into how the music industry is different in India.
Live Nation Entertainment World Tour Director Hannah Raphael adds in her statement, “This will be a great opportunity to learn from other women from across the industry. [and the world] to understand how we can collaborate more in the future as world touring continues to grow and evolve.
International delegates to LWDTT also include music journalist, author and radio host Katherine Turman, artist and tour manager Jenny Douglas of 5B AM and sound engineer Rachel Field. India’s music industry is represented by artist managers like Ritnika Nayan, Desiree Saldanha (of Third Culture), Nayantara Kumar (of Misfits Inc.), producers like Kiss Nuka and Sneha Khanwalkar, and journalists like Lalitha Suhasini , Anagha Maareesha, Satvika Kundu and Suite.
Artist, educator and singer-songwriter Nush Lewis says that while there is some skepticism, she hopes an event like LWDTT will “help with gender balance at future music conferences.” She adds, “We need inclusive music conferences. Bengaluru-based Prarthana Sen, formerly at music platform Sofar and now part of music/tech startup A.live, adds: “[I’m] happy to see many new faces on the panels and among the featured speakers; The music industry in India has been slowly growing and there are a lot of phenomenal people doing interesting work that is not hyped up enough. I also hope to see more inclusive and diverse speaker panels after this, we need representation for all genders.
Let Women Do The Talking takes place June 28-29 at antiSOCIAL, Mumbai and July 2 at The Indian Music Experience, Bengaluru. Register and attend for free here.
Paradise Kitty and Queendom perform at antiSOCIAL in Mumbai on June 29. Event details here.
Paradise Kitty and All Strings Attached perform at Hard Rock Cafe Bangalore on July 2. Event details here.