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Interview: Face-to-Face with Amit Saigal
The editor of Rock Street Journal does some plain speaking on the rock music scene in India
He has seen the Indian Rock Music industry more closely than anybody else. He has been in the industry of Indian Rock music much more than many of the band groups playing around. And yet he cares less than how profitable the industry has become over the years. He is Amit Saigal, the editor of Rock Street Journal.
The first issue of RSJ was born in the family printing press of Mr. Saigal and was a collection of his own articles. Out of the 2500 copies printed he managed to sell only 6 subscriptions in the college festivals of LSR, BITS Pilani etc. The rest was distributed for free among close circle of people who are interested in Rock Music. This was way back in 1993. But time has changed for this man today and also for Rock Street Journal, the most popular magazine in its section. But one thing that hasn’t changed is his passion. Passion for music, passion to stay involved. Today the RSJ website is a comprehensive database of nearly all the band groups in the subcontinent.
The story of RSJ is no less thrilling than the journey of a rock band. The man behind it all speaks to Sudipta Sengupta, Citizen Journalist .
Every band group formed today claims to be a rock band group. How do you exactly define rock? What are the basic differences in Metal, Jazz, Death metal etc?
You want a scientific equation to “exactly define rock”? The difference between Metal, Jazz and Death Metal “ etc “ could be the spelling perhaps.
Rock music does not cater to a mass section in India even today. Yet way back in 1993 you dared to start an entire magazine dedicated to this section. Was it purely passion or you dreamt RSJ to be a success like it is today?
If you really do what you want to do, or get inspired to do, then you don’t think about “mass appeal” or success or failure. You just follow a mad inner urge and do your thing.
Rock Music is not a genre of Indian origin. Yet the number of band groups increase every year. What do you think is the inspiration?
Cricket is not a game of Indian origin. Why the hell do so many Indians play it?
In spite of so many groups India never had its own version of Beatles. How do you explain it?
We have not had any members in a band in India named John, Ringo, Paul & George. That’s why.
Is the Indian version of rock any different from Western rock music?
By and large, the form is the same, though some bands like Mrigya, Orange Street, Advaita to name a few have been creating a sound that is unique, its identity and different from the general Indian rock scene.
Rock bands like Euphoria have stepped into Bollywood. James from Bangladesh already has a hit number in the Indian film industry. Do you think these are signs of any changes for the coming days in the Rock Music industry of the sub-continent?
Rock & Jazz musicians form a significant part of Bollywood already. Look at Shankar, Loy, Ehsaan or Paresh & Naresh Kamath, Louis Banks, Carl Peters, Ranjit Barrot, KK, Vishal Dadlani… these are just a few names that are making Bollywood music for a living.
Many people think Pakistani bands really score over Indian counterparts. What do you feel?
In only that they sing in easy urdu, which is basically integrated into the Indian mainstream anyway.
RSJ organizes rock festivals and takes the winner to perform in other countries. But any attempt to literate the people in the country about rock music?
Talk sense man!
Career as a rock star is not very paying. How is the career as a rock magazine editor?
I honestly don’t give a damn.
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