Tag Archives: Nishit Arora

Building Kolkata’s Indie Soundscape : Nishit Arora


For as long as we can remember, we’ve been hearing about how Kolkata is a location that bands, both national and international, avoid like the plague. Now, while that might not be completely true (NH7 did bring Mutemath down), it’s probably not completely false either. Nishit Arora had been around for a while before he decided that the city could use a shot of adrenaline, music-wise:

“I have been part of the entertainment business for years doing a bunch of things like DJing, dance choreography, workshops, production, corporate events etc. It was my personal dissatisfaction with the kind of work that was happening in the city that made me start Smoke Inc. Smoke Inc allowed me to do the work I wanted to, work that would personally appeal to me and it allowed me to be in control. The idea was to put together quality events and to promote the independent scene. I was also doing regular commercial and corporate work. Over the years, we have been able to focus more on the indie scene and I am happy with the way it’s turning out.”

Smoke Inc is one of the best things that happened to the inhabitants of Kolkata because it spawned Jamsteady, the live gig series that unfolds at Princeton Club on select Fridays.

“Jamsteady is Smoke Inc’s first child so it’s very special. The idea was formulated by me and a friend, Sammy. We wanted to start something that would be regular, original and fun. The idea for Jamsteady was simple – do weekly gigs featuring original acts and with time this scene would become larger and bigger. There would be more musicians, more acts, more audiences and takers for original music and more venues hosting gigs. Over time we have been able to create a consistent following for Jamsteady. I would say Jamsteady is our Mothership and a lot has happened for us, because of this.”

The point of Jamsteady is to feature talent, be it local or national, new or veteran. And it has seen some success. When music-lovers know that they have a place to go where they can catch great gigs, they find the city becoming a space more conducive to their interests. Which is really the point of all music, if you think about it.

Nishit has been intrumental in spreading the good word of great sound. And though it has seen results, he knows, more than anyone else, how much is left to be accomplished:

Kolkata’s music scene is seeing a shift. There is a lot of stuff happening in terms of original and alternative content and that is super exciting. Bands are working hard not just on their music but on their presentation as well. A lot of bands have a solid fan following which is growing with every gig that they play. These are all good signs.  But, Kolkata still needs to push more and everyone needs to be more involved and more focused. I see Kolkata’s music scene becoming the best in the country. We will see bands coming from different parts of the country to play here and be part of this scene. I always believe content is king and in that respect Kolkata has a lot to offer. It just needs to get out there and more people need to experience it. That’s it. We have four gigs a week happening in the city in different venues. I think that speaks for itself.

A lot is happening already, but there is need for more. In my opinion, there are three aspects to this: One, the audience needs to open up to new music. Kolkata needs to come out and be part of all the new and exciting stuff that is happening. Second, bands and musicians need to connect more with their fans and audiences. As soon as this connect happens, you see things moving. Third, venues and promoters need to work hard, invest in good sound and technical gear and most importantly get more involved in the scene. The point is not to just host the gig, organize the show but to create an overall experience which is in sync with the scene.”

Having peeked into the entrails of the indie scene in Kolkata, he finds no reason to capitulate to all the negativity that the city’s reputation seems to reek of, even now:

“I am not discouraged at all, because this reputation is wrong and completely undeserved. We have seen people come out and listen to a variety of bands. The numbers are very high on days when some established, traditional bands play. Whereas on days with new acts with an unusual sound these numbers dwindle. This is something that will not change overnight. It needs time, effort and constant pushing. That is what I mean when, I say people need to push more, come out more and be part of the stuff that is happening. I am not discouraged at all, because then I won’t be able to do what I am doing. I am very hopeful and optimistic. The fact that there is new stuff happening across the city is encouraging enough.”

And now, Smoke Inc is setting up something big. Quite literally, if we go by the name.

“…on December the 13th we are launching our very own music festival and it`s called Jamsteady’s Big Sunday. We are very excited about this one. This is our big jump into doing a large-scale event and we hope to give Kolkata the best festival experience ever. That’s the plan. We are working very hard to put it together. We aim to make this one of the best festivals in India in years to come. “

If accomplished, Big Sunday will become Kolkata’s own unique addition to India’s roster of enviable music festivals that are attracting global attention.  And Nishit Arora exhorts Kolkata’s crowd to keep their hopes high:

“Expect some amazing new music to come out from the city in the next few months. Watch out for Kolkata’s very own music festival – Jamsteady’s Big Sunday. Big Sunday is a celebration of all the great music coming out from the scene for the past 3-4 years. We want everyone to join in. So the message is loud and clear – If you love good music, you should be at Jamsteady’s Big Sunday!”

His insistence on the presence of great music in Kolkata comes with a list of favourites that we think makes a great list of recommendation:

“Pinknoise, Zoo, The Ganesh Talkies, Nischay Parekh, Big Family, Srinjay Banerjee, Neel and the Lightbulbs, Gingerfeet, Underground Authority, Chronic Xorn to name a few. There is so much good music happening in Kolkata.”

Shreya Bose

Shreya Bose is an English grad who is rethinking her dedication to academia and trying to figure out the secret to personal sanity. Currently, writing seems like the only activity that offers both inspiration and catharsis. When free, she overdoses on Yukio Mishima and Kahlua.


Interview with Jeepers Creepers


Formed in 2011, Jeepers Creepers flaunt an indie/postpunk sound. Their fanbase has been building steadily and strongly ever since they “arrived” on the scene,having qualified as finalists at Mood Indigo (in 2011). The roll is on, and how! We met Rishi and Andy from the band and here’s what they had to say about their music and their story so far…

WTS: As a band, how has it been this far?

Rishi: When we started out as a band together we did not know what to expect, except that we wanted to give people something new and interesting to listen to.We have had a hell of a time together, playing our music, and being loved for it so far. It has been great among the four of us, and we have a lot planned out for this year which would include our official video release and our forthcoming EP.

WTS: The stuff online sounds good. Are you planning another set?

Andy: Thank you… appreciate it coming from you. Yes, happy and excited to release our next EP soon. We have a set of 12 new songs, out of which we would try and put four songs up on the forth coming EP.

WTS: What is it going to be like?

Andy: We always believe in making music that is well thought out. We have already played these new songs at a number of gigs, where a lot of them were seeing us for the first time, and they seemed to really enjoy the sound. If you have heard our last EP, then this one should sound a bit more evolved in terms of elements that range from pop to dance punk.

Rishi: We tried different approaches while composing and we tend to play around with the tones too. We are all in our element so hopefully, we think this will be a great listening experience.

Interview with Jeepers Creepers

WTS: Where are you recording? Any change in the sound/line up?

Rishi : At Dream Digital with Ananda from The Supersonics. Ananda has been a great help and (has been) helping us with production and engineering. It’s a great experience to have him onboard. There isn’t any change in our line-up. Compared to our last EP, this one will have a lot more elements of dance punk, pop punk and post punk. There aren’t going to be any acoustic guitars and songs about high school heart breaks. It’s all thrill.

Andy: Lyrically, the themes range from an artist’s rebellion against the society and its lack of idyllic sentiments, which makes our song called the ‘Man in the Centre’, to a song called ‘Cheese Monger‘ which is an address to a person who is desperate for attention and acts real cocky to make himself worth interest – so basically, observation and introspection of urban psychology that most could relate to.The songs are a fun, humorous and relative aspect of looking at life.

WTS: When will you release it? Where is the next gig?

Rishi: We plan to release it in another two months.However, we can only fix on a release date when the mastering is complete. We will be putting it up on our Facebook page.

WTS: Are you all for labels or an independent release?

Rishi: Independent so far.

WTS: As musicians based in Kolkata, where do you think the scene is at presently?

Andy: It’s getting better by the day. As musicians in this Bolly-infested country, a land that thrives on vague notions of happy endings and censored reality, the only way we get to make any money is by playing gigs. Producing a good album or EP doesn’t come for free. There is a great dearth of venues here and most musicians in the Kolkata scene go unpaid or very poorly paid. So the musician community is sticking up to support the scene. Neel Adhikary has been hosting a series of Open Mics to help talented young musicians find initial footing. Nishit Arora of SmokeInc has made a significant contribution to the music scene here when he adamantly refused to let cover bands play and supported only original music at his Friday Night Jamsteady.

Rishi: What musicians here really need are more venues to play at, and more people taking interest to support the new wave of original music financially,like event companies or record labels. We are hopeful that with time, musicians here will feel more at home. But what matters most is that past all odds we still have people who love music,and we wouldn’t cease to play,pay or no pay,to give you a good time and rock you to your bones.