Tag Archives: Kartik Pillai

Producer Kartik Pillai On How The Caste System Affects Indian Music

Kartik Pillai

Kartik Pillai. Photos by William Griffith.

Delhi’s rock scene is on the rise, says Kartik Pillai, one of its key movers. From a few scattered festivals and a smattering of metal acts playing college campuses, Pillai has seen the Indian capital’s indie rock scene grow enormously over the last decade. “When I started doing shows in 2005, 2006, there were maybe like 100 people, super tight. The biggest festival was GIR, the Great Indian Rock festival, which is no longer happening because they’re in debt. But there was GIR, Independence Rock and Mood Indigo, which was a college festival. Now they’re everywhere.”

With his solo project Jamblu, his membership in the groups Peter Cat Recording Co and Begum, and his soon-to-launch record label, the Hundredth Monkey Initiative, Pillai finds himself at the center of an actively expanding community. Originally from Kerala in South India, he and his older brother—a filmmaker in Bombay—spent part of their childhood there,  as well as in Luxembourg, Ohio, and Thailand, moving around for their father’s job at a tire company. At age 12, Kartik became enchanted with a cassette of Hans Zimmer’s Lion King soundtrack and wanted to learn the keyboard. He promptly quit—”as soon as I got a teacher is when I lost interest”—but picked up his brother’s guitar a few years later while bored at home, and was soon jamming in blues bands on Delhi’s university circuit as a precocious high-schooler.

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