Director. Musician. Entrepreneur. EFT Practitioner. Author. Ritnika Nayan has donned many hats in the last 16 years. Kick-starting her journey in 2001 as a fresh-faced, first-year undergrad, Nayan went on to work with music giants like Maroon 5, Counting Crows, and Nickelback within her first four years in the industry. Fast forward to 2017, she is the founder of Music Gets Me High (MGMH) and proudly champions the cause of India’s independent music industry. Recently penning an intensive guide into the industry, Indie 101, she describes her journey with music as “amazing, unique, and ever-changing.” Catching up over a freshly brewed iced tea, we dig deeper about her journey, her views about the issues that plague the indie music industry, and the healing power of music.
Picking the drumsticks early on, performing arts have allured Nayan from an early age, “I was heavily involved with theatre, dance, and music all through my school life.” A dream to perform on Broadway steered her to Hofstra University, New York, but was soon faced with the grim reality that her passion for theatre didn’t pay the bills. Switching fields and majoring in TV/Video Production, she tested waters as an Assistant Director. “I worked on a British Television show and in the film, Gandhi My Father, but it wasn’t my cup of tea,” she shares. A yearning for live music and backstage adrenaline had Nayan embarking for London, and this time around, the lady knew her calling well. Stepping behind the scenes was an “eye opener” and she was soon bitten by the thrill of music management. “I loved the feeling you get after putting on a great show. Everyone is having a blast because of the hard work you put in,” she says.
With a Master’s in Music Business Management, the symphonies soon took the Tom Misch admirer to join Curious Generation (Artist Management Agency in London). Organising concerts across the British capital led to a two-month stint with Peter Jenner (erstwhile Pink Floyd manager), but a lingering reminder of home landed her back in India. Inclined towards entrepreneurship since the early days and determined to restructure the shabby artist-management grid, Nayan founded Music Gets Me High in 2007. Reality set in quick, as the stark difference of work ethics between the East & West became apparent. “I had to learn to cope with tardiness & unprofessionalism – my biggest pet peeves,” she shares. Obstacles enveloped all dimensions of the industry and artists had their own set of issues. Managing Advaita at the time, the need for a formidable jamming studio had them in peril, “There was no good rehearsal studio with quality equipment, zero neighbourhood complaints, and time limitations.” Ignited to create a place which was all that and more, she conceptualised Sound Station in Okhla. Eight years since inception, Nayan is elated to share, “Advaita still jams at the studio!”
Determined to bridge gaps that are the bane of India’s music industry, Nayan’s constant observations & learnings had her scripting Indie 101. “In India, there is no place to get basic information about how the music industry works. So I decided to pen my learnings and it soon took a life of it’s own,” she says. Working around the clock to make music more approachable as a career, Nayan is spreading awareness about how the gears function in India. “There is still a long way to go before we’re at par with the world,” she opines. The growing number of festivals and artists touring India might be a boon, but it comes with a hidden disclaimer. “The younger generation needs a chance to be a part of the line-up, currently it consists of the same artists over and over again,” she shares. But since hurdles are nothing but opportunities to succeed, Nayan is quick to add, “We’re getting there slowly.” We concur, for the growing number of exceptional artists in #OurCity are testament to it.
Talking about the struggles and pressures that have dotted her timeline, Nayan shares, “As someone who’s had issues with bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression, I wanted to find tools to help me cope.” A sprained ankle and multiple YouTube videos later, she discovered her path of reform – Emotional Freedom Technique. Based on the same principles as acupressure and acupuncture, it incorporates the fundamentals of talking therapy. Armed with knowledge and interest in EFT, Nayan soon got certified as a practitioner and founded Natural Vibrations. “I want to help other musicians going through emotional issues, and doing this work has truly changed my life as well. It’s rewarding,” she reveals.
As the crackerjack lady jets set to champion yet another cause and help more artists achieve their potential, we strum the DSSC Rapid Fire to bring you Ritnika Nayan – unplugged.
An artist or band that never ceases to inspire you?
Ritnika: Envision (from India)! It was very short-lived but way ahead of its time.
Your top 3 music-destinations across the globe?
Ritnika: England, Amsterdam, and New York City.
Your favourite city to host an event?
One up & coming Indian band we should look out for?
Ritnika: Shadow & Light.
One thing you love about the Indian music industry? And the one thing you hate?
Ritnika: I both love and hate being a woman here.
One change you’d like to see in the indie music industry?
Ritnika: We need better payment cycles, or 100 percent advance payments.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this feature are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of DSSC & its affiliates.
Featured Image Courtesy: Dhruv Kalra