T.H.E Interview – Nikhil Chinapa


UKTI and Submerge are back this year with the second edition of “The Exchange”- a B2B music conference to be held on the 3rd and 4th of December 2015 at The Lalit, Mumbai.

It is an initiative by UK Trade & Investment and produced by Submerge to get British and Indian talent, trade bodies, and industry people together to understand the region and discuss potential business opportunities.

We felt the need to catch up with Nikhil Chinapa and understand his thoughts on the dance music scene in India, and how a dance music summit like The Exchange can prove to enhance it. Read our chat here. :)

Shantanu Puro – Firstly congratulations on the announcement of some great Vh1 Supersonic events recently.

Nikhil Chinapa – Thank you, it’s been quite a journey in a relatively short span of time. Even though this is our third edition of the festival, the first Vh1 Supersonic was built in just over 3 weeks. So we really have been around for just 2 years and the team has achieved a heck of a lot in that time with Club and Campus events and of course some legendary Arcades as well..

Shantanu Puro – In your opinion, has the Indian fan base matured from the ‘star lineup’ obsession to a phase where the veterans, the emerging talents and especially the local artists are being appreciated equally if not more?

Nikhil Chinapa – In a word, yes. To truly see the extent of growth in this space, you’ve got to scratch beneath the surface of what’s obvious. The current dance music scene leans heavily towards an obvious “gateway” sound that most of us know as “EDM”. In this space, there’s limited room for growth, considering the cacophony of voices, artists and releases. That said, we’ve had a few breakthrough producers especially Lost Stories and Zaeden in this space, while Nawed Khan, Aneesh Gera, Ajit Pai and several others continue to play brilliant sets to sold out venues.

In the alternative space, We’ve seen an explosion of talent and events. Producers and Djs have both made their marks with Ash Roy, Arjun Vagale, Pearl, Kohra, BLOT, Tuhin Mehta, Vinayaka, Jitter, BLaNK and several others leading the charge alongside bass artists like Nucleya, Su Real, Sound Avtaar, BREED and DJ Sa.

Shantanu Puro – Could you enlighten us a little about this dance music summit – The Exchange. What was the thought behind doing something of this sort in India?

Nikhil Chinapa – I’ve been to several conferences abroad over the years and we always felt that though we had conferences in India too, the dance music scene was badly underrepresented. When UKTI and Submerge started talking about doing something about this gap in our scene, we realised that even in other genres, there was much work to be done in bringing people together and amplifying our music scene. That’s how The Exchange was born. It’s purpose – to bring people together and increase the transfer of knowledge and create business opportunities between India and the UK. It’s two way traffic mind you – and it seems to be working well.

Shantanu Puro – And how was the response you’ll received for the inaugural edition last year?

Nikhil Chinapa – The inaugural edition was amazing. The key piece of feedback that we received from delegates who attended was that real issues were addressed in our panels and a significant amount of business was conducted between parties that met during The Exchange.

Shantanu Puro – What can fans expect in terms of major topics to be discussed this year?

Nikhil Chinapa – Our topics will be announced this week and they all pass through a simple common-sense filter which is “Does this help increase collaboration between entities from India and the UK” and “Does this truly help someone attending The Exchange as a delegate.” We consciously avoid topics that don’t pass through these filters, even if the panel topic sounds ultra cool.

Shantanu Puro – Why is this event something that dance music enthusiasts and artists should definitely attend?

Nikhil Chinapa – The main reason is to get an understanding of what exists beyond our horizons. As individuals, we are exposed to a range of influences and experiences – everything that we know falls into what i call a “personal horizon”. The Exchange helps to give attendees a perspective beyond that horizon by conversations that lead to collaboration and the transfer of knowledge.

Shantanu Puro – Do you think that the diversity of speakers in this year’s lineup is one of the USPs of the event, considering that you have someone representing Music Streaming, Ticketing, Artist Booking, Music Composers and yourself, to name a few?

Nikhil Chinapa – Diversity is always going to be a focus of The Exchange for years to come. There isn’t just one sound, scene or perspective to any aspect of our musical landscape. The Exchange hopes to highlight this diversity in all of our conversations around music.

Shantanu Puro – How can a platform like The Exchange help improve the music scene in India?

Nikhil Chinapa – Through conversation, collaboration and exchange of music, ideas and knowledge. There’s a reason we called it The Exchange – and this was it.

Shantanu Puro – Do you have plans to make a platform like The Exchange, bigger in years to come?

Nikhil Chinapa – Yes of course. this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg – The Exchange is just a couple of ice buckets for now – but we’re sitting on an enormous iceberg of potential.

Shantanu Puro – Being a DJ yourself, would you say that there hasn’t been a better time to be a DJ in India, given the quantum of opportunities today?

Nikhil Chinapa – There’s never been a bad time to be a DJ. Ask any DJ that and that’s what they’ll all say. We’ve all always done it for the love of music, irrespective of whether the scene was tiny or whether like today, it’s a $6.9 BILLION dollar industry globally.

Shantanu Puro – Thanks a ton Nikhil for this interview! It was greatly insightful and we look forward to the event.

Nikhil Chinapa – We’re looking forward to seeing you there too!!

You can register for The Exchange right here.

Shantanu Puro
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