Imagine attending a gig inside a recording studio and listening to artists play live through your headphones
Bring Your Own Headphones, or ‘BYOH’ is a live recording session open to an audience, held in Pune every month at Gray Spark Audio, an online mastering and mixing studio. The idea is to create a low-cost, intimate and interactive platform for independent musicians. Indie bands are signed on to play and paid through registration fees, and a makeshift seating area holds the small audience. Once listeners are seated around the musicians with their headphones plugged in, the record button is pressed while the outfit plays live. This translates to the artists bouncing their recording session off a live audience. It is a throwback to the music making profession and a treat for those interested in seeing what behind the scenes actually means.
Gray Spark is a team of six: partners Ronak Runwal and Harshad Mehta, their assistant music engineers — Tushar Verma, Kartikey Dixit and Ashwin Naidu who are also a part of Pune’s four-piece indie instrumental outfit, Celestial Teapot, and there is Nikita Borges, artist and studio manager. While a modest Ronak denies that BYOH was his brainchild, the rest of the team quietly acknowledges their contribution to this unusual platform.
One day, in a random discussion around half a year ago, a team brainstorming session conceived the idea, and everyone ran with it. Nikita tried to get the artists, Ashwin helped with the design and virtual resources, and with the limited manpower, all management tasks were taken care of internally.
The idea of capturing the indie space is not rare, as Ronak mentions how he liked that there was an alternative to the mainstream which was not just about catering to the market. Harshad has worked in Bollywood and Gray Spark continues to take up such projects as they come along. “I don’t have anything against the mainstream and that is what largely pays our bills,” he adds.
Sarthak Karkare, vocalist in Mumbai-based indie band Unohu, describes a personal experience with the audience: “This one guy very perceptively pointed out that a particular transition we had worked out in a song was very apt and well structured. All three of us in the band instantly smiled because we knew just how much we had struggled to write a good part to the song. I think that guy in the audience figured that out. It was quite memorable.”
The first BYOH Live session was on the 20th of May, this year with alternative rock band Unohu. Approximately 55 music enthusiasts showed up, which is not a large number as far as gigs go. For Ronak though, the idea was never to make it into a huge event. It is just for those who are really interested in knowing where the music essentially comes from.
While the first session was completely acoustic, the second session swam in the electronic space with a sophisticated visual panel setup. Their third session will indulge in the more bluesy spectrum with The Family Cheese performing. The vision of these live recording events is to come up with a volume of 12 songs at the end of the year. This master mix will then be released, tentatively titled BYOH Live Volume 1. The first video titled BYOH Live Featuring Unohu is out and has already gathered twelve-thousand views.
When: September 18
Where: Kalamkar Paradise, Baner
Originally published on The Golden Sparrow