For fans of the Indian indie music scene, supporting indie artists isn’t hard. This time though, artists are offering support and helping raise funds for COVID-19 relief. By releasing new tracks, albums that weren’t available for purchase before and more, artists have managed to and continue to raise funds as the second wave of COVID-19 continues to crumble India’s healthcare infrastructure.
Chennai band, The F16s’ new song, To Be There With You came as a pleasant surprise. Fans can download the song till June 6 and proceeds collected will be donated to select NGOs working towards COVID-19 relief.
Available on Bandcamp as a download-only single, the song is the first new material by the alternative band in about two years. Ask them what pushed them to release it now and they say, “We started working on this during the first edition of quarantine, April-May 2020. It existed as a rough version for the months that followed. [We] didn’t really have a plan for it, until now.”
With the world getting creatively productive while being holed up at home as the pandemic raged, you’d think that the band too had some epiphany. But that wasn’t the case; “It was just an idea we put down and forgot about, and then remembered recently. [We] decided to clean it up and finish it, and released it as a way of helping out,” they say. But while they released the track to raise funds for COVID-19 relief, they’ve also been working on a new EP during the various lockdowns of the pandemic.
As they continue working on the EP, To Be There With You is receiving a fair amount of affection from fans. The band says that people have stepped up and donated more than what they had expected. The proceeds that are being raised via downloads will be donated to Give India, Milaap, Goonj and Feeding From Far. The band decided to donate the proceeds to these organisations as, “These organisations were doing work that spoke to us, so it didn’t take long to compile. Our aim from this is to aid work being done for rural India, apart from the slack being picked up thanks to our government’s ineptitude.”
Through the pandemic, The F16s have not only released a track, but they were also the first band to perform at a live gig in Mumbai. In November 2020 when restrictions were relaxed, Anti Social in Mumbai’s Lower Parel opened up their space to host gigs with a limited audience. And, the band flew to Mumbai to perform. The gig was small, not something a band like The Ff16s is used to anymore after having performed at various venues since their inception in 2013. But it was obviously a strange experience to be in front of a crowd after a while. “Being the first band to play a gig felt like being crash test dummies or lab rats. But it worked out, the crowd were well-behaved, stuck to their little boxes. The gig went well. Air travel felt good.”
Will we see live gigs anytime soon or ever go back to big venues? “Always hopeful, but cautiously,” they say.