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  MUSIC INDUSTRY SERIES
Interview With Promoter Kunal Singhal Of Chaos Theory Music


Ivan David

ivan david

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Kunal Singhal

Live performances have become an instrumental part of the music landscape in recent years. With the changes in technology and people having easy access to tons of music online for cheap (or free), bands are focusing on their live performances in order to offer a more cohesive experience of their concept and also to generate income.

Kunal Singhal has been organising shows with underground acts for some years now. He founded Chaos Theory (http://www.chaostheorymusic.co.uk/) in order to create a promotional platform for adventurous and forward thinking musicians. The Facemelter is one of the events that they host on a monthly basis, which features heavy bands with fresh visions and ideas.

We had a chat with Kunal about the current music climate, his experiences as a promoter in London and the risks of working with great (but adventurous) bands.

Article continues below...

 
 


Tell us about the concept behind Chaos Theory, how it was conceived and your prime objectives.

"Chaos Theory is a promotion I started purely to find a way to promote new and underground musicians of many genres in the current climate. I'd wanted to have an underground label of the same name for a few years, but after answering an ad for sub-promoters in London, I found myself so appalled by the way so many unsigned gigs were run here, that I decided to try to run my own promotion in the way that I thought it should be done.

"As it's grown and taken on the help of a lot of decent people, I've learned so much that my goals have become a lot clearer. We want to put on great bands and make great lineups, but we also want to use the gigs to promote the bands before, during and after with loads of online content and by trying to reach out to the media. We want to appeal to people who are well tuned into whichever scene they're into, but also draw in new crowds who may not know where to see live unsigned music in London that is actually as awesome as the stuff they'd pay for in major venues.

"It's also about showing the world that London's DIY music scene is thriving as much as ever creatively. If we can create an organised platform for these musicians, then maybe we can get some money into the scene from the base level and get the musicians more exposure to new crowds and more influential people in the industry."

"The Facemelter" is Chaos Theory's monthly event devoted to heavy genres. But it is a different experience from a regular Metal gig. Can you talk about The Facemelter, how it works and why it stands out?

"Well, I'm not sure that it stands out exactly, London's DIY metal scene is thriving and there are some great nights out there that have popped up in the last few years. Or I just know about more of them now. One or the other.

"I guess with The Facemelter, it still is very varied regarding genres, albeit still within the realms of rock and metal. The lineups vary from month to month, so you might see a bunch of progressive metal bands one time, then see post-rock the next, prog bands next and so on. Some other nights try to have bands of different genres of metal or rock in one lineup, which keeps the gigs really interesting and varied, and we try to make sure that each band will stand out, but I guess I try to make the lineups more complimentary to each other.

"The theory is, that if you like one band on the lineup, then you should like them all, or at least pick up on one other band that you weren't there to see. There's no right or wrong way to do it, it's just that's the way I operate.

"Also I compere the events, which is weird for a heavy gig. I'll go onstage and introduce the bands and after their sets I'll give the audience any information about their merch, next gig and website. It's just because so many people love a band they don't know, the band are often too shy or aloof to promote themselves on stage and I want to give the people every possible chance to find and follow that band.

"I'm not very good at it though; as soon as someone steps up who can do a better job then it's theirs."

After several shows at The Miller in London Bridge, Chaos Theory is now starting to set up shows at The Black Heart in Camden Town. How do you feel about this move and what can we expect from future events there?

"This is a huge deal for us. I've been going to gigs at The Black Heart for about a year and a half and it is up there with Café Oto as one of my favourite venues in London. They only programme great music, take care with the rest of the pub as a venue, take pride in their bar, play cool music downstairs, have great staff and promote the events themselves instead of just booking out a room and expecting the promoters to do all of it."

"You can expect to discover lots of great bands at The Facemelter on the first Friday of every month. There is no downside to this move."

When artists complain about promoters only paying attention to the amount of people a particular band can get into a venue, Chaos Theory has a reputation of really caring about the bands and artists you work with. What are you looking for when you get approached by a band? What are the Chaos Theory requirements?

"So, first and foremost, I have to love the band's music, or at the very least respect their musicianship, ideas and techniques. If they're doing something interesting and I feel that it could be potentially influential if it had a wider audience, then that's the first thing I look for.

"The next thing is how a band or musician presents themselves. If they have some sort of website which they update with all of their news, good quality music and gig dates, engage with their fans regularly and have essentially made a package of information which is easy for people to get at and makes them want to know more about the band, then that makes it very easy for me to promote them to Chaos Theory fans who may not know them so well.

chaos theory

"At our first Facemelter in the Black Heart in February, obe and Mayors Of Miyazaki shared all the links for the tickets and the online event to their fans, used the poster art and listed the event on every single one of their sites. They in turn sent me lots of artwork, full press release style blurbs, which we edited together until we were all happy, and sent me press quotes. All of this allowed me to create detailed newsletters, website listings and press releases to send out to my own contacts and promote the bands as best as possible.

"On top of this, obe sent me some rough tracks from their unfinished album a few months ahead, just so that I could get a feel for the sound that they were going for and programme the event accordingly. They also sent me a secret link on Soundcloud so that we could embed their album on our website the week before the gig, allowing people to get to know the songs and get fired up for the album release show.

"They compromised nothing about their sound or DIY ethos, but with that level of simple organisation and collaboration, we had a gig packed with people excited about the bands and all of them sold lots of merch.

"So yes, ticket sales are important, but it'll only really work if everyone involved communicates and works together on pushing the event. No one needs to compromise themselves in any way. If your musical project is more than just a hobby, then start doing what all the bands you love do. Even elusive musicians like Tool and Jarboe had their tour dates listed on their websites somewhere. You've just got to ask yourself, "how much are my listeners willing to hunt for my music and tour dates?" and use that gauge to balance your levels of mystique and accessibility.

"If you do all of that, the numbers will come and you won't even have to worry. There really wasn't any pressure about this gig, we all just did what needed to be done and it worked."

You are certainly giving opportunities to bands that are unusual and more experimental as well. Do you think taking risks in the current music environment with unusual bands is important?

"Hell yeah! What's the point of only putting on music that's safe and has a wide appeal? Everyone does that. I had family members asking me when I started this thing, 'why don't you book some big name commercial pop or indie artists and make a lot of money on their concerts instead?' Because that music is fucking shite.

"I don't want to promote for the sake of it, I want to put on gigs that I'd actively want to go to. I was so shocked when I moved to London and met so many so-called promoters who were actually taking the piss out of bands that they'd booked themselves. But as long as the very band they were making fun of brought 100 people, their pockets were lined so who gives a fuck about whether they actually take pride in their night?

"To those kinds of promoters, piss off, you are a fucking joke and you are ruining the scene for everyone. We have decent musicians playing to the same crowd of 20 people everywhere they play in London because they aren't being given decent opportunities, while other potential fans of live music but who don't know where to look, are put off unsigned or DIY gigs in general because of the pure level of shoddy, thoughtless random overcrowded lineups and disorganised gigs that they've seen. That shit needs to stop. There are literally thousands of new mindblowing musical projects in London alone that need to be heard."

Are words like originality, authenticity and innovation important for the evolution of genres like Metal? Some fans seem to stick to what they know, but where to go from here?

"Aren't they important for any type of music? I love hearing bands that play great music that reminds me more of a sound created by another band I'm a fan of, but in the back of my mind, I'll still be comparing them to the first band that came up with the sound. That said, you see some bands trying to make up a new sound for the sake of it, which seems to result in a pretty soulless sound. I think the most original bands I've encountered tend to listen to a huge range of music and take influence from all of it.

"The pioneers of all sounds don't try to make a new sound, they just explore ideas that they have and make something that they enjoy, so a new sound emerges organically. I don't think Ephel Duath said, 'we're going to try to find a new way to fuse metal and jazz to appeal to a wider audience' when they were writing Painter's Palette, it just happened as a product of the time.

"What I'm saying is that if you listen to music from any period and generally keep your ears open, you can't help but be influenced by everything swimming around in your head, so just go with it. I once asked members of Opensight and Chromosome Needle what they grew up listening to and their answers clearly demonstrated their influences and the musical journeys that they'd taken to result in them being completely open to new ideas and thus effortlessly create totally original sounds. They aren't trying to live in the past and they aren't trying to force a new sound, they just go with what feels right and something special is born."

Chaos Theory is helping independent artists by organizing shows and giving advice in how to spread the word and bring more people to gigs. Can you talk about the tips and strategies you use when marketing your shows?

There's the obvious stuff, like listings, newsletters, online events and putting posters up everywhere. Just making a bit of time to do that will make a big difference in the attendance. Essentially, the best thing to do is to go to loads of gigs, meet people and tell them about yours. You now, be a music fan. Rick from Cosmic Carnage is really good at that, he's just a huge ball of energy who loves all metal and chats to anyone, so promoting his own gig is no different for him than promoting any other gig he's looking forward to.

"If the lineup excites you, you won't find it a chore to plug it. That's why I'm adamant that I love all the music that we put on at Chaos Theory and why I'll listen to suggestions from all of the team, as they'll push something that they really love.

"Magda, an integral part of Chaos Theory, brought us Bitter Ruin, who supported Jarboe at her acoustic gig that we did last year and she's always on the lookout for great Facemelter bands because she's always at post-rock and math gigs. So the short answer is, be into what you do, you'll sell it convincingly then."

Your events are giving more exposure to bands and also helping them to build income streams. What would be your advice for generating exposure and income for bands, especially bands that are innovative and take risks?

"Generating income is tricky but doable. There are some great independent musicians out there who are in complete control of their creative vision and demand a lot from people working with them, but with good reason. Their standards are high, they get results and people are willing to pay for their merch and gigs. Jordan Reyne and Bitter Ruin are some great examples of independent artists who take complete control of their sound and are able to generate income from it.

"All I'd say is, not being a successful independent musician myself, is to keep the standards high. Don't release amateur phone vids on YouTube, don't put up music with bad sound and poor mixing online and certainly don't sell EPs and albums which haven't been produced to a decent level. Also the music should be good! Make the standard as professional as you can and then start to have some fun with it.

"Make up weird viral campaigns, hide random stuff around town for people to discover that links them to your sites, make really weird packaging, whatever you feel like doing. It's up to you, express yourselves, engage your fans in a way that would stand out to you in a band you'd never heard and put out work that you would spend money on yourself."

So how important is for bands to get involved in the business side and market themselves?

"Well, that depends on how much they can afford to spend on good managers and booking agents who are as excited as they are about their music. If they can't, then it's worth getting good at simple stuff, like checking your emails every few days, making sure you go to nights, meet bands and promoters and email them with links to your stuff. If you have a gig, then let your fans know about it. Well in advance, not two days ahead.

"I have some extremely good bands sending me dud links, wrong bank details to pay them with, stuff like that. We all make mistakes, but it's always worth checking. If all the members of a band can muck in and send out a few emails each, post a couple of things on their social media a couple of times a week each, then you're making your lives very easy.

"Same comes from organising equipment, set times and other details with promoters and bands you'll be working with. Darkeye even set up a Facebook group for all of the bands and myself to organise times, gear share and discuss promo ideas. No surprise that the gig was packed and went really well."

How can we stay in touch with Chaos Theory and make sure we get info about your events? Please share your contact details with our readers?

We have a website (chaostheorymusic.co.uk), which Cognitive Dissonance kindly made for us. It's got a lot of info there, but I've still got to put most of the content up there! Upcoming events are on our homepage and you can click through to our Facebook and Twitter.

"There's a contact form on the website, if you just want to say hey, and you can read about some of the people involved in the team in the Behind The Chaos section.

"Come and say hello at our events as well, even if we're busy it's great to meet new people who are into some of the bands at our nights."


6.3.14




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Bruce is expected to make a full recovery and Rod expects to be able to provide another update after an MRI scan, probably in late May...

sos festival MORE BANDS ANNOUNCED FOR SOS FESTIVAL
SOS Festival announces more bands, including Triaxis and Furyon who headline the Friday and Sunday respectively...

helloween HELLOWEEN ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM FOR MAY, 'MY GOD-GIVEN RIGHT'
"We tried to built a world of ideas, keeping the 'classical Helloween' elements, like the pumpkins on the one hand and a complete new look on the other..."

thunder THUNDER ANNOUNCE 'RESURRECTION DAY' AS A SINGLE RELEASE
The new single from 'Wonder Days' celebrates the recovery of guitarist Ben Matthews after serious illness...

space elevator Y&T ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN TOUR DATES FOR 2015
Still rocking on and as ready as ever, Y&T return to Europe this autumn, with special festival dates in July...

space elevator SPACE ELEVATOR ANNOUNCE SPRING TOUR
Following their strong live debut last year, the band return for a select handful of dates...

the night flight orchestra THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM RELEASE
'Skyline Whispers', the latest from the Swedish rockers, lands in June...

femme metal FEMME METAL FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FULL LINE UP
Lacuna Coil and Therion wil headline the international line-up for the October event in Eindhoven...

dimebag darrell DIMEBAG DARRELL'S GRAVE DESECRATED BY FORMER NUCLEAR HELLFROST VOCALIST REECE EBER
Inevitably, Nuclear Hellfrost's social media pages were bombarded by understandably angry and outraged Pantera fans...

iron maiden NICKO McBRAIN GIVES IRON MAIDEN UPDATE - NEW ALBUM IS READY BUT ON HOLD
"Bruce is in great hands back home in England, not only with his family, but his oncologists and all the people that are working with him..."

battle beast FOUNDING MEMBER ANTON KABANEN FORCED OUT OF BATTLE BEAST
"I did not want to leave. The initiative came from the rest of the band, and I am now forced to leave..."

jethro tull IAN ANDERSON CELEBRATES JETHRO TULL WITH NEW SHOW - UK DATES ANNOUNCED
Ian Anderson has announced six dates of a 2015 UK tour, titled 'Jethro Tull - The Rock Opera'...

fm FM PREMIERE 'DIGGIN' UP THE DIRT' VIDEO
Check out the new single from 'Heroes and Villains' right here. FM will be touring the UK in May with Romeos Daughter as special guests...

hrh 9 UFO AND MORE ACTS CONFIRMED FOR HARD ROCK HELL 9
UFO, Toseland, The Screaming Eagles and Trucker Diablo are just some of the acts in today's announcement, joining Saxon this November in Wales...

hackett stolt STEVE HACKETT REVEALS NEW BASS/12 STRING PLAYER FOR UPCOMING TOURO
Multi-talented guitarist Roine Stolt joins the line-up. "It's marvellous to have both Swedish talents Roine Stolt and Nad Sylvan as part of the band for these Hackett solo/Genesis Revisited shows..."

hammerfall HAMMERFALL ANNOUNCE ONE OFF LONDON SHOW IN MAY
"We're pulling out all the stops to make this a triumphant return to British shores and this time there will be no restrictions on lights, sound or production..."

krokus KROKUS ANNOUNCE FIRST US TOUR IN OVER 25 YEARS
Following the Monsters Of Rock cruise the tour continues through several US cities, ending at the legendary Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles...

wildfire festival WILDFIRE FESTIVAL 2015 ANNOUNCES SUNDAY NIGHT SPECIAL GUESTS, ACOUSTIC LOUNGE AND MORE
For 2015 the Acoustic Lounge is back, bigger and better than ever....

the darkness BREAKING NEWS: THE DARKNESS ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM AND UNVEIL NEW VIDEO - WATCH IT HERE
Summer 2015 sees the return of multi-award winning music band The Darkness....

jim cregan JIM CREGAN POSTPONES MARCH CREGAN & CO TOUR FOLLOWING CANCER NEWS
Soon I'll start treatment which I'm hopeful will lead to a full recovery and I'll be back doing what I enjoy most, performing with this great band in May and on tour in October..."

hang the bastard HANG THE BASTARD ANNOUNCE TOUR DATES WITH CORROSION OF CONFORMITY & UK HEADLINE DATES
"It's gonna be heavy and it's gonna be loud!!! Bang your heads, we are coming for you!..."

aaron keylock 17 YEAR OLD GUITAR HERO AARON KEYLOCK SIGNS TO MASCOT LABEL GROUP
One of the most exciting and brightest young talents in the UK, Aaron is a mesmerising live performer with over 200 shows to his name...

bruce dickinson BREAKING NEWS: IRON MAIDEN SINGER BRUCE DICKINSON UNDERGOES CANCER TREATMENT
Sometimes a news item breaks that shakes you to your foundations...

rock goddess ROCK GODDESS ANNOUNCE FIRST LONDON DATE IN OVER THIRTY YEARS
The waiting is over. The reformed South London hard rock trio have announced details of their first London concert in over 30 years...

nigel glockler BREAKING NEWS: SAXON DRUMMER NIGEL GLOCKLER PRONOUNCED 100% RECOVERED WITH ZERO DAMAGE
"This means that I am okay to get back to work, but I am told to ease back into it and on my own timeframe..."

turbowolf TURBOWOLF RELEASE BLISTERING NEW SINGLE 'NINE LIVES'
"Nine Lives is a song about making the most of our limited time; about living with no regrets; about changing our attitudes towards death and about life..."

arch enemy ARCH ENEMY ANNOUNCE NEW LIVE DATES FOR 2015
European fans will see Arch Enemy again in late April. The band are coming back with support from US Metal force Unearth and Drone from Germany...

motley crue EXCLUSIVE: MOTLEY CRUE PAY TRIBUTE TO GARY GLITTER ON THE FINAL TOUR
Debauched rockers Motley Crue are currently in Japan performing their last Asian dates on their much publicised Final Tour...

music for nations LEGENDARY HEAVY METAL LABEL MUSIC FOR NATIONS IS BACK
As well as reissues, the label will be signing new artists for the first time in over a decade...

satyricon SATYRICON SIGNS WITH NAPALM RECORDS FOR RELEASE OF SPECTACULAR LIVE DVD
"It's not a live album. It's a celebration of what Satyricon stands for as a band..."

absolva ABSOLVA RELEASE NEW VIDEO FOR 'IN SOME WILD UNIVERSE' PLUS TOUR UPDATE
This video features the touring line-up of the band for 2015...

rival sons RIVAL SONS WITHDRAW FROM SOUNDWAVE 2015
Australia will have to wait a little longer to see Rival Sons in the flesh as family matters take priority...

the answer THE ANSWER RELEASE BRAND NEW LYRIC VIDEO FOR TRACK 'LONG LIVE THE RENEGADES'
"The song is about just doing what you do best and having a bit of a bunker mentality..."

dead kennedys DEAD KENNEDYS ANNOUNCE UK AND EUROPE HEADLINE TOUR FOR JUNE 2015
US punk pioneers will bring their distincitve sound to four countries over ten dates...

carl sentance BREAKING NEWS: CARL SENTANCE ANNOUNCED AS NEW VOCALIST FOR NAZARETH
Persian Risk vocalist Carl Sentance replaces Linton Osbourne to start the next chapter for the Scottish hard rockers...

rockingham firefest BREAKING NEWS: ROCKINGHAM RELIGHTS THE FIREFEST; GOTTHARD, DAN REED, STAN BUSH AND MORE ANNOUNCED
The AOR flag will be raised high yet again over Nottingham Rock City...

pentagram PENTAGRAM RE-SIGNS WITH PEACEVILLE RECORDS - ALBUM RECORDING UNDERWAY
Through four decades of adversity and triumph, Pentagram have become a legendary international act...

uriah heep URIAH HEEP 2015 UK TOUR ANNOUNCED
This tour follows on from the release of the band's acclaimed album 'Outsider' which enjoyed excellent reviews...

godsmack GODSMACK VOCALIST SULLY ERNA TO MAKE AN ONLINE POKER COMEBACK
For Godsmack fans this could be disheartening as Erna shifts his attention from music to poker...

quo convention FIRST EVER STATUS QUO FAN CLUB CONVENTION ANNOUNCED
There will be live music, very special guests and a packed programme this October for this very special celebration...

queensryche THUNDER CONFIRMED AS VERY SPECIAL GUESTS TO ZZ TOP AT WEMBLEY ARENA PLUS MINI UK TOUR ANNOUNCED
The group's first studio album in six years, 'Wonder Days', reminds us why Thunder are now more revered than ever before...

queensryche QUEENSRŸCHE TO TOUR EUROPE AND RELEASE NEW ALBUM IN 2015
It's a busy year for Queensrÿche with headline shows and festival appearances before the new album release...

dir en grey dir en grey RETURN FOR TWO EXCLUSIVE SHOWS
The Islington O2 Academy will be the scene for Japanese avant-garde Metal in May...

unleashed SWEDISH LEGENDS UNLEASHED REVEAL ALBUM TITLE AND ARTWORK
The founders of the Viking Death Metal movement are back and as brutal as ever...

santa cruz SANTA CRUZ REVEAL LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'MY REMEDY'
Get a taste of the new album with 'My Remedy', the third single to be released...

Shattered sun LEGENDARY BRITISH MELODIC ROCKERS FM RETURN WITH 'HEROES & VILLAINS' ON APRIL 17TH
"We're on a roll! Some of the tracks on this album are better than anything that the band has ever produced, and Steve's voice is as good as ever..."

nightwish NIGHTWISH ANNOUNCE ONLY UK DATE THIS YEAR WITH ARCH ENEMY SUPPORTING
"Who would have thought about headlining at Wembley Arena one day when we were starting our UK touring history..."

quireboys THE QUIREBOYS GO UNPLUGGED AND PERSONAL: ACOUSTIC DATES ANNOUNCED
After last year's highly acclaimed unplugged tour, The Quireboys are pleased to announce a very intimate string of evenings early 2015...

killit KILLIT UNLEASH DEBUT VIDEO AND ANNOUNCE FIRST EVER LIVE SHOW
'Shut It Down' is the first single from the album and is out now and available...

state villains STATE VILLAINS TO RELEASE SECOND EP IN SPRING
State Villains have an honesty that harkens back to an era of integrity and a distinct lack of gimmicks...

chris slade BREAKING NEWS: CHRIS SLADE IS BACK IN AC/DC
Chris will rejoin the legendary hard rockers for their appearance at the 57th annual Grammy Awards as well as the band's upcoming tour...

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