Over the years there has been an influx of very interesting and eclectic Music Festivals. Lovers of Music are getting to experience diversity, variety, fresh sounds, big sounds, unknown talent and the stars. Some festivals are passionate about presenting only home grown talent, while some make you experience a destination in a unique and different way. Sid Khanna and Tanvi Gupta from Nariyal Paani share what creates their sound, inspired thinking and eclectic audience.
You’re a finance consultant by profession—how and when did your path veer towards music?
About seven years ago, I quit my corporate finance job in London and started an architecture and development practice with my sister and her partner in Mumbai. They design the projects and I build them.
One of our first projects was in Alibaug. That’s where I met Tanvi. She had just started her cafe at the same time I was breaking ground. We met on the Mandwa ferry, got talking, and realised we loved good food, beer, music and Alibaug alike. A music festival seemed like a fun idea to explore.
Why the name Nariyal Paani?
It just fit! The location is in a coconut wadi on the beach. We wanted the name to fit the vibe of the site…Electric Nariyal & The Coco-Nut were some of the other options, but Nariyal Paani felt right.
What is the festival’s ideology?
I think Hayden Scott [from Stella by Starlight] summed it up—'If happiness was a music festival, it would be Nariyal Paani'.
Our main goal is that we want our guests to enjoy great music in a small and intimate setting. Everything should be stress-free…no lines to get in. You can get to the front of the stage in 30 seconds, no waiting at the bar. If you want to meet an artist, you can just walk into the green room and have a drink with them. We love the fact that everything is accessible.
You have a very interesting mix of music genres and musicians—what is your curatorial process?
We pick artists that we want to hear! Everyone in the team has a say. We listen to everyone’s suggestions and then argue a lot! After doing this 5-6 times, we have our initial list ready, then Emma [who is in charge of the artists] takes it from there and works her magic.
For an eclectic festival like yours, venue plays a very important character. How did you decide on the venue and how did it add to your sensibility?
We knew we wanted a location on the sea. A place that was a short commute from Bombay, but where on arriving and sitting in the coconut-wadi, you forgot about the chaos and stress of the city…When we found this small secluded spot, we immediately fell in love with it and ended up negotiating with 38 family members and buying the plot! From the décor, F&B offerings, music selection….everything is influenced by the beach vibe.
How has the festival enriched the locals of that area?
In the run-up to the festival, for about five months, we employ most of the village. Local vendors are also given free stalls so that they can sell their products and food at the venue. Permanent bathrooms and bins are provided for future use by the village. We’ve also installed natural rainwater harvesting wells so that the water-table is replenished every monsoon. Last year, we insisted on 'no plastic on site'. Everyone involved—including participants, audience, organisers and contractors— maintains this rule. Divya Ravichandran from Skrap.in did a phenomenal job running recycling workshops with the villagers. This year, 73% of all the waste generated on our site was recycled. In 2018, we hope to roll out a plan for village homestays.
Over the years, India has become very active and experimental with music festivals. What are your views on that?
I think it is amazing. The more people experimenting, the better! There would be so much more happening if the government just helped streamline all the permissions required.
What can we expect from the 2018 edition of Nariyal Paani?
A lot more artist collaborations. We want it to be fun, have a great mix of genres, slightly eclectic. If our permissions come through then Nariyal Paani boats from Bombay will dock straight at our venue. Live bands will perform on these boats, so the festival starts the moment you get afloat.
Text Shruti Kapur Malhotra