These musicians return to their hometown of Kerala after three decades to organize an international music festival


Two indie rock musicians who were part of Thiruvananthapuram’s nascent rock music scene in the early 1990s are returning to the city to host the International Indie Music Festival, a five-day multi-genre festival in Kovalam from November 9-13.

Two indie rock musicians who were part of Thiruvananthapuram’s nascent rock music scene in the early 1990s are returning to the city to host the International Indie Music Festival, a five-day multi-genre festival in Kovalam from November 9-13.

A cheap, patched-up second-hand guitar and makeshift drums were all Jay and Manoj had when they started the band Autumn Leaf with a few other musicians in the early 1990s in Thiruvananthapuram. The independent music scene wasn’t really thriving and support wasn’t easy to come by.

Yet they persevered, creating original classic rock tunes at a time when playing covers of popular songs was the norm. Although the group continued to perform for four years, they had to go their separate ways as careers dawned.

Bitten by the rock virus, they were to return to it, which happened decades later in 2014, with the formation of the group Lazie J, which has already performed in quite a few venues. Now, back in their hometown, they’re trying to create something they’ve been missing: a platform for independent musicians.

The duo are set to organize the International Indie Music Festival, a five-day party, to provide a platform for aspiring independent musicians as well as bands from various parts of the world, with the support of Kerala Arts and Craft Village, near Kovalam, from November 9 to 13.

It all started with Jay launching the Lazie Independent Magazine during the pandemic period. Within two years, the magazine with the slogan “Artists Help Artists”, featured emerging musicians from more than 40 countries, with the musicians also being the contributing authors. This attempt to form a musical community has helped as some of them are now landing in Kerala to perform at the festival.

“I started exploring the independent music community a few years ago to promote our songs. Our tracks received a lot of exposure on online platforms and overseas radio stations. It also helped us connected to many musicians around the world.In an age when big corporations and labels control the tastes of the masses, it is important for independent communities to come together and support each other.The magazine and multi-music festival genres are the result of this effort,” says Jay, who works in the IT Sector in Bangalore.

Big names perform at the festival including UK based blues/rock guitarist Will Jones, American/Brazilian hard rock band Sami Chohfi’s Blue Helix, reggae artist Anslom Nakikus from Papua New Guinea , Vedic metal band Rudra based in Singapore, metal band Chaos from Kerala, hip hop-jazz musician Roc Flowers from Italy, Carnatic rock band Agam, singer Sithara Krishnakumar’s Project Malabaricus, collective Job Kurian, Lazie J, Rane from UK, pop-folk group When Chai Met Toast, Sherise and Lyia Meta from Malaysia.

Some of the bands are expected to feature at the International Independent Music Festival.

Some of the bands are expected to feature at the International Independent Music Festival. | Photo credit: special arrangement

The Kerala Arts and Crafts Village, an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism, is supporting the festival as the large gathering including visitors from abroad are expected to boost the business of home artisans here.

As part of the festival, Lazie J is also hosting a John Antony Guitar Contest in tribute to the legendary guitarist who played in the band before his death in 2019. Santosh Chandran is the band’s current guitarist.

“Many local musicians get the opportunity to play with international artists because some of them need session musicians to perform here,” says Manoj.

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