LOCALS: An Underground Phenomenon

by Bahaar Kaur
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At the behest of an innate urge to delve deeper into the crevices of the underground music scene in the country, we found that a select group of valiant individuals have taken it upon themselves to deliver everything top notch from premier sound systems to the finest lineups and an overall experience, for an unparalleled dance floor synergy. One such Initiative that was born out of the sheer need to present the “scene” in its most raw and unabashed form to its audience was the capital born LOCALS. Lets dive into the narrative of how it all started and what makes the Locals tick!

An underground phenomenon that rattled the submersible space of Delhi’s electronic music upholstery by amassing a whopping 6k people onto its community in just a year of starting out and clustering a space where pure techno heads can go rampant into a trance is what LOCALS as an initiative can be translated to. So to get a well-lit idea into the whole mechanism of this culture, we had an in-depth conversation with the brains behind LOCALS, Vijay Kumar aka Mister K.

“LOCALS came aboard as a need to push an informal approach to the saturated clubbing scene in Delhi and taking it into a more underground capacity where creativity and artistry is at the forefront than any other hidden agenda” says Vijay. He tells us that the whole idea behind LOCALS was to promote the local artists in a capacity to equate the dysmorphia of international artists being given more leverage in the Delhi gig space. “It was always about pushing local talent and also making space for new talent. That’s how the name LOCALS was introduced. At the time clubs were booking mediocre International artists and that was a bummer because we have immense talent in our country. It was just about the hype and there was no community based interactions,” he adds.

LOCALS started in early 2017, with a 20 people gathering, all there for the innate love and passion for music. Their approach was to create a community of like-minded persons that understood the music and wanted a safe enlightened space to rave and be in unison with each other. It, slowly within a year, grabbed the attention of all the house/techno heads in the capital and footfalls started pouring in.

“I knew a concept like this would blow up but so quick and so fast I had no idea” chimes Vijay. “I initially wanted it to be a very niche thing, like I didn’t want it to cross a 100 people ever but I genuinely felt bad that people would show up and we had to refuse them entry because they were either not on the Facebook group or we were just jam packed for the night. That’s when I thought oh! this could have been me you know, looking for a great scene but denied entry. So we made adjustments accordingly to accommodate more and more
people. We initially didn’t even charge anyone for entry, it was BYOB plus chasers were on us! We just wanted everyone to have a great time with what we created and the vision behind it. Eventually around last year when the scene grew bigger and bigger a very nominal entry fee was charged, just to keep the overheads running and to make the experience as smooth as possible for everyone”

The more we spoke to him the more we understood the lengths to which anyone has to go through to provide a safe haven for its community. From selecting eccentric venues, to proper sanitation arrangements, to a security detail that has at least two PSOs at all times, there is a lot more that goes into culminating a pure unadulterated scene. “Local authorities need to be sorted, the surrounding areas need to be scouted. I personally try and book a cab late night from the venue beforehand to see if it has easy access to people, especially keeping girls in mind. We also check if the area has proper phone signals so that people don’t feel stranded in the middle of nowhere. These things need to be considered while looking and scouting for venues too. The devil lies in the details” he adds further.

Locals has since its inception spread its wings to different cities apart from Delhi like Mumbai, Agra and Jaipur, staying true to its essence of once a month open air jamborees across these cities. On being asked if locals would delve into any other genre in the future, he said, “Techno is where my expertise lie. I do listen to all sorts of music and quite frankly enjoy so many other genres, but I wouldn’t put my efforts in a place I have no experience in. I do what I do best!”

Speaking about spreading wings, Vijay had a lot to share about how a music festival and an award-winning agency were birthed out of LOCALS. “March 2018 was our first anniversary and we actually threw a full fledged music festival in an 18 th century castle in the heart of Rajasthan! It was absolutely insane! For sure it was a tiring one, but the fact that we had 40 local artists on the lineup spanned over 3 days, was a magical feeling. It felt like we had come full circle and created something beautiful.” Speaking about Locals A&R, he said, “after the festival we knew there were artists that we needed to work with on a regular basis and hence A&R was born. We wanted to represent the music we resonated with and the talent that matched the vibe. It was definitely the next step.” Locals A&R has since won the 2019 INCA award for the best Artist Management Agency in Delhi, boasting a roster of 11 solid Artists.

Furnishing a culture/community based approach; the Locals closed group on Facebook has become a phenomenon in itself. “We have always been very picky of our tribe. Whoever is added in the group goes through a thorough background check and is always recommended by someone. People have been banned from the community for creating a ruckus or not meeting the community standards. We are evermore particular about safety of women and I feel like we have, to an extent, created a safe environment for women
to function freely.”
LOCALS has always been known and is famous for its elaborate sound setups and glazed lineups. “People need to understand that sound is the most important element in a musical scenario. You give people a proper sound setup and they will have the time of their lives. A jarring sound can ruin that experience. We do not hold back with our setups. They need to be close to perfection. As far as lineups are concerned, there needs to be a good parity between new talent and established artists. That is always what I keep in mind while curating my lineups. We also introduced open decks, where freshers from the industry would get exposure to a professional setup. We have discovered so much new talent from there its amazing!” Speaking about what’s in store for Locals, Vijay said “the new normal has changed things upside down for us. We are starting again with limited capacity LOCALS, which feels like we’re back to basics, but keeping the scene going is also essential. Hence we have come up with new strategies and a revised entry systems, hoping that we will be able to revive our industry.”

In cessation we would like to thank Vijay for engaging in this dialogue with us and letting us in on this non-paralleled marvel called LOCALS. He told us that he drew inspiration from the underground Berlin techno scene and wanted to recreate something similar in his own city. Here’s to game changers like him who strive to think different and dare to create unprecedented vibes. See you at the next LOCALS!

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