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What’s with the Rift in the Indian Electronic Music Scene?

We have been hearing a lot of gossip lately about what’s going on between Submerge & Sunburn.

What’s with the Rift in the Indian Electronic Music Scene?


We have been hearing a lot of gossip lately about what’s going on between Submerge & Sunburn. Irrespective of what the truth is and it will be out someday we’re sure, here’s what Nikhil Nulkar & I have compiled from various sources (some factual & some rumors).

Just a few months ago we had written about the “’Breakdown’ in the Indian EDM scene?” and this post is in continuation to some of our thoughts on the electronic music scene in India.

As we recollect from the good old forum days (especially 2006/07), we have all seen Nikhil Chinapa create Sunburn by conceptualizing and directing the festival right from the start. He obviously used his strong network of artists and their managements to form an incredible line up for Sunburn. A lineup that not only made sense genre-wise but also seemed to have been beneficial for their ticket sales. He also ensured that Indian DJs were represented substantially. Basically, he knew more than anyone at that time, of what would work in India at that scale. You can gather a lot of this from the old Submerge forum discussions.

We are all also aware that Nikhil even gave the festival its name – Sunburn.We still remember the discussion he’d started on the forum where a lot of us pitched in with our recommendations and how excited we were as part of this history in the making. Take a look at the thread for yourself.

We’ve heard Nikhil speak emotionally plenty of times, whether with a mic on a stage or in various articles in the media of how passionately he felt for Sunburn. In fact on numerous occasions, Nikhil spoke to us about how he and Pearl experienced these festivals a long time ago and wanted to build one suited for India. They worked hard to set up the foundation for it.

Nikhil and his team at Submerge created a strong foundation for the electronic music scene to evolve in India right from early 2000s and all of this happened much prior to Sunburn Festival’s existence. They created a strong countrywide network of electronic music followers through the Submerge forum.

After six years of Sunburn, we are all left wondering about a few things. Gradually, Percept’s visibility has increased in every aspect of Sunburn and Nikhil’s has diminished. Whether it’s in flyers and festival videos or even their articles, we don’t see Nikhil’s presence as much as we used to. Also evident from Nikhil’s sudden silence on Twitter & Facebook this year is the fact that something has gone terribly wrong in this relationship. Does Percept not see any value in Nikhil anymore after becoming the success that it has?

Sample flyer from the Internet

We noticed a long time ago that the line “in partnership with Nikhil Chinapa” had gone missing from Sunburn’s artwork. Does that mean Nikhil has no stake in Sunburn anymore?

Recently a lot of people raised concerns on Facebook & Twitter about this relationship and it’s extremely disturbing to see all these developments. We are not getting any answers from anywhere, however here are some interesting observations that we’ve come up with.

From Sunburn’s own website we found that Percept bought 26% stake in Submerge and have 50% stake in two of their properties* (click on the underlined bit if you’d like to read it yourself) – Supernova & Ultimate DJ Championship. We can only assume with our layman’s knowledge, that this must have been a mutual partnership, considering Nikhil’s contribution to Sunburn. A lot of us have been wondering why Supernova & UDC were never held again. Did Percept’s own equivalents such as Superstar and host of Sunburn offshoots (Reload, Arena, etc.) take precedence over these two properties? It’s also strange to see Sunburn now doing small tours without Submerge branding as noticed on recent Sunburn flyers. This was Submerge’s expertise but we now know that Percept is their partner. Doesn’t that sound strange?

All we are left with is to try and connect the dots.

Please note that we’ve tried to bring out all the observations and facts that we were able to collate from various sources. The primary intention is to ensure all of us together are able to get a better understanding of what might be going on in this space and perhaps get answers to some of the questions that worry us as electronic music followers.

Being an integral part of the scene as it evolved in the last decade, we now need answers to some of the questions that worry us. We are eager to know where this partnership is leading; how much impact this will have on the electronic music scene in India; and what does the future look like for Sunburn and Submerge as independent brands and the people behind it?


*Here’s the screenshot of the Sunburn website that we have shared in this article.