It’s no secret that Chennai’s music lovers are getting their fair share of international artistes in recent times, as opposed to five years ago — when we were starved of our favourite music while they picked other metro cities in the country to perform. But the city still hasn’t had much progress in providing a stage for the plethora of talented independent musicians or local music festivals.. that’s why the hills beckon.
With their second edition, Monkey Town Arts and Music Festival in Ooty is attempting to change that and shine the spotlight where it’s deserved but lacking. Art and music with a social conscience await! Michael Christadoss, one of the co-founders of the festival says, "This year’s edition, our team went for a bigger approach with popular bands as well as a mix of up-and-coming indie artists. The vision that all of us friends had when we started this was to provide a platform for independent artists because there aren’t enough. We have lesser know art forms like poi, workshops about recycling and compost, installation art and more. This isn’t just a music festival, we want to promote other arts as well as ecological awareness."
He also mentions how owing to last year’s success and appreciation that came their way, they are expecting a much bigger crowd. Ari Jayaprakash, who will be performing with Kuru Circus, says, "It’s great to be performing near my hometown — Coonoor. There’s not a lot of exposure in Ooty and nearby areas for live music — so this isn’t just a great way to share my music with locals, but also an opportunity for them to appreciate a wider range. I will be showcasing my artwork as well as performing an AV set with Kuru Circus, that’ll be something that sounds new, yet familiar. I’m also looking forward to listening to other great bands like Family Cheese and Jhanu play."
Having worked in both the Kollywood industry as well as being part of the indie music scene, Jhanu Chanthar has seen it all. Performing with his band Jhanu at Monkey Town, he is looking forward to the growth of the festival. "I’m very sure that in the coming years this festival will become even bigger and better because they are focused on the artists and it’s been organised by artists too. Independent bands are highly underrated in the Kollywood industry, but they are the ones that are developing the most sustainably." When asked what the audience can expect from his set, he says, "The band’s philosophy is to always perform with high energy. We’d love to take people’s mind off of their daily routine so they can experience our music."
Besides the highly awaited music acts, there will also be several workshops to make the festival more interactive and eco-friendly. Anik Khapai, who has been creating recycled products with her husband and children, will be teaching ways to recycle trash to give it a new purposeful life. "We recycle everything from turning plastic bottles into earrings, jam bottles to flower vases and pebbles into baskets. We also provide employment to lifetime prisoners so they can earn some money too. The workshop isn’t just good for the environment, but for people too since they can learn how to manage waste and adopt an eco- friendly life while also helping out the underprivileged," says Anik and adds, "The youth is full of life and constantly looking for great experiences. They will get to witness great music, different forms of art and can choose to take away a lot, but that depends on them."
(Monkey Town is taking place in Ooty on the 14th and 15th of April)