The Submerge Impact on Music in India

It’s been nearly one and a half decades since Submerge was incorporated by Nikhil Chinapa, Pearl and Hermit Sethi. Since 2003, they’ve gone about significantly impacting how music is perceived and absorbed by the masses in India. Previously largely ignored by the hotshots from the West, India has been hosting multiple electronic music legends in succession now. Submerge can justifiably take credit for kickstarting the trend and subtly influencing the bigger scene nationwide.

The electronic music scene isn’t new to India. Festivals and events were common in Goa with multiple artists dropping their tracks every year as early as in the 80s and 90s. But true ‘commercialization’ only began in the late 2000s, when Chinapa organised India’s first International Dance Music festival in 2007. He was the festival director for Sunburn until much later, before parting ways. 

The Submerge Effect

While some may argue that Sunburn has hogged a larger part of the limelight on the electronic music dance scene, there’s no denying that Submerge is unanimously respected for the quality of artists it has brought to India repeatedly. Above & Beyond have been regular visitors to the country. Axwell and Alesso too, among others.

So is Sunburn’s (and other festivals’) popularity a side-effect of the groundwork Submerge has been doing for all these years? Of course. By having EDM go mainstream in India, Submerge opened opportunities for other entities to join the bandwagon and accelerate its popularity. Festivals and events now draw thousands of fans every year. I myself have travelled across multiple states to catch my favorite artists perform, and I’m sure there are thousands like me. Without Submerge, we’d probably still have an active EDM culture in the country. But on the same level and intensity as it exists right now? Unlikely. 

This isn’t a comparison between Submerge and others, merely an acknowledgement of the company’s pioneering work in bringing mass appeal to such a loved genre of music. Submerge continues to promote other artists and push them on to the big stage. Its website lists at least 15 artists it is currently managing (including Nikhil and Pearl themselves). While the Submerge team claims they ‘aren’t genre nazis’, an inclination towards trance is apparent. In an earlier interview, Chinapa said “we’re also seeing tremendous growth in alternative sub-genres […] like Techno, Bass and Future House. Now there’s a slow re-emergence of trance that is coming back, though its roots are in melodic techno.”

The Road Ahead

Next year, Submerge will be bringing Lane 8 for a five day tour, introducing to India a new concept that the artist has been experimenting with, globally. The ‘This Never Happened’ tour will forbid any recording or footage of the event while it runs – so no cameras, phones or other electronic devices. 

February 8, 2017 Update:

Early next year, Submerge is bringing back Above & Beyond to India yet again, much to the delight of their extremely loyal fanbase. A&B will be doing a 3 city tour on the Holi Weekend. Get your tickets here.