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Maed in India is a unique podcast, an on-demand episode-ized radio show, where Mae Thomas scours the earth for Indian indie musicians and gets them talking about their lives and music. Between interesting banter and stories of life on the road as a musician, you get to listen to several of the artists’ tunes, as well.
Google ‘indie music in India’ and millions of small bands wanting to make their mark would flood your screen. But unhindered by the sheer size of the industry, a single voice is working her way through all of the upcoming musicians and taking the effort to listen to their stories and bring their music to audiences.
Mae Thomas, former radio host and music journalist, is the brain, heart, and voice of Maed in India — an informal, conversational podcast. She has had rich, insightful experience in the music scene while working at NH7 and Radio One. When she found herself in a position to make her own project, she proposed ‘Maed In India’ podcast and ran with it. It is still running, 152 episodes and three years later. Recently, the show reached its apex, making it to the top of the Music Podcast lists on Apple Music India.
How’s it Maed ?
Mae Thomas. The spunky voice asking questions, cracking jokes and breaking down that wall between artists’ creative processes and their fans. Even without the power of video or text to rely on, she immediately draws listeners in with her cheerful giggles and keen observations. She is a self-proclaimed ’Third Culture Kid’, moving dizzyingly from Kerala to Bombay, Doha, and the UK, before she came back to settle in India. Maybe being exposed to so many cultures has made her the engaging interviewer she is, effortlessly slipping in and out of her personas, doing silly accents — intentionally or unintentionally, and cracking culturally relevant jokes that makes it feel like you’re sitting in a hip coffee shop, eavesdropping on someone’s fun conversation which is obviously everyone’s guilty pleasure!
Each episode is really a creature of its own, beginning with Mae introducing the main artist. Before we hear their music and stories, we hear an ‘opening band’. Then there’s tons of free-wheeling conversation, sprinkled with the artists’ live performance of their songs. It’s all live and unplanned which leads to some crazy stories like how she heard about British singer Apache Indian’s six-year-stint as a steel welder before he began releasing music!
Where should I start?
Here is a beautiful episode with Madame Gandhi, a trap/electronic artist. I started listening to this enchanting conversation and didn’t realise when the hour was up! Combined with Madame Gandhi’s incisive analysis of feminist themes of her music and the stories that inspire her, this is really a fulfilling conversation. Click Here
The changing indie music industry
Thomas has had years to observe the indie music scene from a unique place that allowed her to understand its intimate workings, without actually being a musician herself. She’s seen huge festivals grow from tiny venues, show promise (is it promise or premise??), only to die down a couple of years later, great performance clubs and halls shut down, and she’s seen how musicians have had to adapt to this unpredictability.
“I still struggle with the fact that the ‘indie scene’ is literally just that – a scene rather than a growing industry.”
Today, she says that the internet has been the most powerful tool for the independent musician, bringing all the power to their own hands. But with managing oneself comes extra work like marketing, organising performances, and some of these consume immense amounts of energy, which leaves all the less energy for musician to work on their actual art. It’s a tradeoff, and musicians are still learning how to navigate within the whole Bollywood-centric music industry. What makes Maed In India unique is that here, musicians can kind of let down their hair and come to a place that is genuinely interested in bringing them and their art forward.
Behind the scenes
Thomas asks the right questions and doesn’t hesitate to delve into difficult subjects. But how does an entire episode come about? As you can guess, there is a lot of research and teamwork involved.
“Respecting musicians and their craft is of utmost importance to me too, and I find myself very lucky when musicians perform their unreleased music on the show and trust me with their most precious gems.” Mae Thomas
If you have to pick one thing that Thomas excels at (if you really have to) then it would be her sleuthing skills. Before interviewing her bands, she takes about half a day to research them and their music, going as far as calling their friends and family to find out information that may not be available elsewhere. The rest, artist coordination, tech riders, etc., is taken care of by the producer. She has the utmost respect for her artists, and it shows in the way she provides her listeners with a complete image of each musician.
Thomas hopes to take her project far and wide, planning soon to meet artists outside Bombay, where they are currently based, and eventually hopes to even discover artists in other cities across the world! With plans for a ‘mixtape’ featuring new singles of varied artists, Thomas has no plans to stagnate in her process of creation.
If you’re looking for some respite from the routine Bollywood playing on radio, then head straight to the nearest major podcast streaming service (YouTube and MaedInIndiaPodcasts) and experience the charm of Maed in India.
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