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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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Unleashing their high-proof blend of melody, muscle and psychedelic mystique to well in excess of 600,000 riff-hungry fans across 12 different countries...

klogr MUSE, TOOL, STONE SOUR, RUSH PRODUCER FOR KLOGR'S NEXT ALBUM PLUS NEW MUSIC VIDEO PREMIERE
Italian progressive metal band unveil the final music video from 'Make Your Stand'...

rage RAGE REVEAL LYRIC VIDEO FOR NEW TRACK 'SPIRITS OF THE NIGHT' PLUS NEW ALBUM TRAILERS
Iconic German metal trio Rage are set to release their new studio album 'The Devil Strikes Again' on June 10th...

bon scott LIFE-SIZED STATUE OF AC/DC LEGEND BON SCOTT UNVEILED IN KIRRIEMUIR
The bronze statue is the result of a two-year crowdfunding campaign which was supported by AC/DC and the band's former bass player Mark Evans officially unveiled it...

mikkey dee BREAKING NEWS: SAXON WITH PHIL CAMPBELL AND MIKKEY DEE TO PAY TRIBUTE TO LEMMY AT GOLDEN GODS, HAMMERSMITH ODEON
Ticket price is a very reasonable £6.66 with all proceeds going to Nordoff Robbins, Teenage Cancer Trust, and Childline...

mikkey dee BREAKING NEWS: MOTÖRHEAD'S MIKKEY DEE ANNOUNCED AS SCORPIONS DRUMMER
"We would like to continue our Return to Forever tour with James, but we have to realize that his health is priority..."

alex dickson gun BREAKING NEWS: ALEX DICKSON REJOINS GUN
As exclusively predicted by MetalTalk last week, guitarist Alex Dickson has re-joined Scottish rockers Gun...

cockney rejects WEST HAM UNITED TRIBUTE 'GOODBYE UPTON PARK' TO BE RELEASED BY COCKNEY REJECTS
"We were all born within a mile or so from the hallowed Boleyn ground and have all stood on the terraces through snow, rain and sunshine from a very early age."

ac/dc AC/DC RELEASE TICKET REFUND DETAILS FOR MOST EUROPEAN COUNTRIES
If you don't want a refund, then we'll see you at The Olympic Stadium in London as we think we're about to witness a major piece of rock history...

deep purple IAN PAICE AND DON AIREY SCHEDULE SOLO EUROPEAN DATES AS 2016 DEEP PURPLE TOUR APPROACHES
Deep Purple are kicking off their 2016 tour next month in Japan, before heading to Israel, Russia and Europe in June and July.

steve hackett STEVE HACKETT TO RELEASE 'THE TOTAL EXPERIENCE LIVE IN LIVERPOOL', HIS ACOLYTE TO 'WOLFLIGHT' WITH GENESIS REVISITED TOUR
"Besides, it's not as if Liverpool is known for having any good music – there's never been a good band from there. Ha!"

lacuna coil LACUNA COIL LAUNCH NEW ALBUM TITLE TRACK 'DELIRIUM'
Lacuna Coil will be making their much-anticipated return to North America as part of the 'Delirium Worldwide' tour starting in San Francisco on May 7th

bibeau YOUNG, PROGRESSIVE BAND BIBEAU OFFER THEIR FIRST SINGLE/VIDEO, 'MARK THIS'
"We were also hoping to convey the look, feel and flow of some of the classic, timeless rock and metal videos from the height of MTV's popularity..."

virginmarys THE VIRGINMARYS ANNOUNCE HEADLINE UK TOUR FOR JUNE 2016
"It's going to be so great to get back in front of our home fans again, and really important to us to play some of the towns we've been wanting to come back to..."

weapon uk WEAPON UK TO HEADLINE THE RETRIBUTION ALIVE ROAD TRIP IN MAY
"They toured with Motörhead in the 80s, including four sold out shows at the Hammersmith Odean and I have to say, we're pretty excited about this!"

headbangers ball ICED EARTH AND ENSIFERUM TO HEADLINE MTV HEADBANGERS BALL TOUR 2016: FULL DATES HERE
"So brace yourselves for the ultimate Metal experience of a lifetime! See you in front row!"

bloodstock BLOODSTOCK ADDS MORE BANDS, DETAILS METAL 2 THE MASSES FINALS AND ANNOUNCES FIRST NEW BLOOD STAGE WINNERS
Bloodstock HQ is readying to send Team M2TM out on the road for the finals, but in the meantime, there's a few more band additions to the August bill

dead daisies THE DEAD DAISIES ANNOUNCE UK AND EUROPEAN DATES FOR JULY/AUGUST IN SUPPORT OF NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'MAKE SOME NOISE'
The Dead Daisies, the biggest new name in Rock, have just recently announced the addition of Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio) as their new lead guitar player

wolf hoffmann WOLF HOFFMANN TO RELEASE SOLO ALBUM 'HEADBANGERS SYMPHONY' ON JULY 1st
"I have always incorporated classical music in my song writing with Accept, especially with 'Metal Heart', but I constantly felt there was so much more that I could do..."

jaegermeister JÄGERMEISTER RELEASE FULL DOCUMENTARY OF WORLD'S FIRST MUSIC GIG ON AIR, SEA AND LAND
"We go bigger every year and because of the nature of this world first this gig was not only a test of friendship but one of supporting each other too..."

john otway JOHN OTWAY PLANNING ON BEING FIRST ARTIST SINCE THE ROLLING STONES TO RECORD IN MONTSERRAT
"Although the old Air Studios are now derelict the studio in the basement of Sir George Martin's house is sound – it just needs rebuilding..."

fates warning FATES WARNING - NEW STUDIO ALBUM 'THEORIES OF FLIGHT' ANNOUNCED, ARTWORK UNVEILED
"There's a loose theme running through a lot of the lyrics, and this developed organically and separately..."

amon amarth RAISE YOUR HORNS AND BE IN AMON AMARTH'S NEW MUSIC VIDEO
Swedish Heavy Metal goliaths Amon Amarth are inviting their fans around the globe to be a part of their forthcoming video...

sixx am SIXX:A.M. ANNOUNCE THE "#REASONTORISE" CAMPAIGN, TOUR DATES AND 'VOL.1 PRAYERS FOR THE DAMNED' DETAILS
"It is our duty as citizens of this world to come together, communicate with one another and rise up to demand more of ourselves and our leaders."

armored saint ARMORED SAINT ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN FESTIVAL AND CLUB APPEARANCES
"For our first time in Spain, it's gonna be sick! And as if this wasn't enough - Saint is playing for the first time ever in Japan..."

black country communion BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION TO REFORM IN 2017
"Preparing BCC Rocket Ship Re-launch for 2017 - all systems go."

tarja TARJA PREMIERES OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO OF HER NEW SINGLE 'NO BITTER END'
'No Bitter End', the opening track of the prequel album 'The Brightest Void', is the first glimpse of Tarja's new work – her heaviest to date...

stratovarius STRATOVARIUS RELEASE LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'UNTIL THE END OF DAYS'
"To me it's a testament to the fact that paying attention to song writing and production was expensive, but so worth it..."

brian johnson EXCLUSIVE: PROMINENT AC/DC CREW MEMBER GIVES REMARKABLE INSIGHT INTO AXL ROSE APPOINTMENT
AC/DC are covering themselves in case Axl's poor reputation for unprofessionalism manifests itself...

brian johnson THE DARKEST DAY OF MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE: BRIAN JOHNSON ISSUES PERSONAL STATEMENT ON AC/DC DEPARTURE
"I wish to assure our fans that I am not retiring. My doctors have told me that I can continue to record in studios and I intend to do that..."

thin lizzy THIN LIZZY ANNOUNCE BASS PLAYER AND NEW DRUMMER FOR 2016/17 ANNIVERSARY SHOWS
Thin Lizzy are undisputed legends and to be a small part of their lineage is a humble honor for me...

ian gillan IAN GILLAN TO PERFORM UNIQUE SOLO SHOW OF DEEP PURPLE CLASSICS IN BULGARIA
There is a possibility that Ian will also play some material from his catalogue outside of Deep Purple...

don airey DEEP PURPLE'S DON AIREY AND FRIENDS ADDED TO CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL PLUS ATOMIC ROOSTER
Expect to hear many classics from Airey's illustrious past which includes time spent with Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne as well as his current job with Deep Purple...

wildfire festival WILDFIRE FESTIVAL 2016 ANNOUNCE SUNDAY NIGHT HEADLINERS AND FIVE MORE ACTS
With June creeping ever closer, Wildfire Festival's impressive main stages line-up is all but finalised...

whitesnake THE END OF WHITESNAKE: DAVID COVERDALE TO RETIRE IN 2017
Whitesnake headline the UK's Ramblin Man Festival in July in what could be their final ever UK appearance...

axl rose AXL ROSE CONFIRMED AS AC/DC SINGER FOR THE REMAINING ROCK OR BUST DATES
The worst kept secret in rock is now official...

aerosmith THE END OF AEROSMITH?: NO FAREWELL TOUR CONFIRMED AT THE MOMENT
"A farewell tour is something we've talked about doing for years, let's say roughly in the last five years..."

hrh united ALESTORM, HAMMERFALL, FINSTERFORST, NAPALM DEATH, ARMORED SAINT, VENOM INC. AND EVIL SCARECROW ANNOUNCED FOR HRH UNITED
HRH United 3 will be an exclusive upgraded Metal Edition taking over the entire site @ Camp HRH, Pwllheli, North Wales...

rolling stones PROUD GALLERIES PLAYING HOST TO FABULOUS ROLLING STONES PHOTO EXHIBITION: TERRY O'NEILL TO ATTEND SIGNING SESSION
It's a wonderful book by photographer Terry O'Neill of Rolling Stones images from 1963 to 1965, an era when the Stones were just "breaking through"...

between the buried and me BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN SUMMER DATES
As well as the European tour dates, BTBAM have launched a live video for 'The Ectopic Stroll' whih you can see here...

jade vine LONDON BASED ALTERNATIVE PROG ROCKERS JADE VINE ANNOUNCE ALBUM LAUNCH SHOW
Jade Vine's music has been influenced by artists such as Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Anathema and Pain Of Salvation...
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