Pay heed, O ye artists: The next time you choose to foist another of your “projects” upon the world, don’t start off with a bio which reads like this: “The Whores of Babylon are an eclectic collective of musicians forging unique sounds and charting hitherto undreamt of frontiers with their groundbreaking blend of electronica and jazz“. Using words like “eclectic” automatically qualifies you for a cunt; besides – I don’t know if it’s ignorance, or hubris, or both – carrying on about yourself like that won’t make you any friends, not if you haven’t the beans to show for it.
First. Stop bigging yourself up. Nobody cares about you or your record, and they won’t no matter how many adjectives you throw in. I’m not a pothead left-wing hippie, and I don’t think of “marketing” as an ugly word – it’s crucial, as it happens – but it involves knowing clearly what you want to achieve. The only people who fall for press-kits are the pubs and the press; the music press in India doesn’t shape tastes, and never will, and playing the pub circuit won’t get you any farther than the dinner-and-drinks uncles and aunties. You should be working on subverting that whole system instead, and trying to win the love of those people who might like an evening out, but can’t necessarily tell between jazz and R&B. (If you want the NME to fawn over you, on the other hand, then heaven help your provincial near-sightedness.)
Second. Selling your wares involves competing spiritedly: You’re supposed to be fighting for a slice of the plebs’ attentions against the movies and the IPL, things that normal people actually care about. Putting up egomaniac writeups on Facebook is the opposite of selling to the public. A designer logo, a name card on handmade paper, and forty days and forty nights of weeping over the correct choice of font is all very well, but unless your music actually catches the ear, and unless you keep churning out stuff steadily enough to hold interest, you’ll condemn yourself to failure. This will either be the blatant failure of jaded middle-age, with your friends patting you on the back and telling you what a bad country this is that doesn’t recognise your genius, or failure of the more subtle kind – like what has happened to Peter Cat or the F-16s – wherein you’re stuck in a closed loop, playing the same set in the same clubs, over and over, for the same praise from the same journalists, all of whom have your cool punk-rock logo bumper sticker on their cars, whilst the rest of the world carries on oblivious.
Pop musicians in India spend way too much time thinking about, writing about, and – eventually – whining about themselves. And they do this instead of putting real work into the tiresome business of making records, which is why not a single group has broken its way out of the bog of pothead fuck-ups who consider themselves fit to dictate tastes to the country. And this, hand in hand with the pretty young things fresh from college, who prance about inventing “business models” and new ways of “monetising” music, not one of whom have been able to think beyond the narrow limits of the pubs-and-festivals-and-music-magazines scene, the whole lot too either too stupid, or too caught up in themselves to do anything more than rehash the same broken ideas about what they can build, or who they can reach.
If that’s the highest form of success you can imagine, you may as well dream about death.