One “mini series” we’re going to be doing is a few interviews promoting some similar minded people in the music field. We have countless numbers of people who slave every day (usually every hour) to promote music whether its a new album or tour….people who are working around the clock, setting up press releases and looking for people to premiere music and setup promotion opportunities. I think it’s time we pay back these hard working promoters and PR people that get absolutely very little to no recognition of their hard work and talents…..by ironically PROMOTING THEM!
First up is a good guy Harsha Vardhan who runs a wild gig in India I’ve had the pleasure of working with for at least 6 months now. His machine Proximity Music Management is a reputable company in his country, and recently really rose the bar rebranding his product from “Proximity Music”. Not only does he do PR and press work for music, but now has dived into not just booking shows but TOURS as well! You think my friend has had enough? NOPE! He also helps run a magazine called MetalJesus Magazine! Oh, and he also has a day job. I don’t think he ever sleeps. All in All Harsha has sent some AWESOME bands over since we developed our professional friendship giving me stellar bands such as: Orchid, Dark Helm, Darkest Horizon and Plague Throat. There have been other great bands we’ve found from India as well such as: Coma Rossi, Prophets of Yahweh, Godless, and one of Vick’s favorites Sahil Makhija: The Demonstealer. He also managed to snag British Thrash Metal legends ONSLAUGHT! How friggin’ cool is that to manage a band of that status? Anyways, I think India is turning into a metal hotbed……no? I hope you all get to know Harsha a bit better and his businesses! Enjoy!
TMR: What prompted you to start Proximity Music Management?
Harsha: Well, it was in 2014 and the idea was to create a consistent touring environment for bands here. It wasn’t easy and I tried as much as I could for the first two years but nothing really panned out successfully. So, I began with band management and PR to keep it going and at this point I just wanted to stop doing this as it was mentally and physically too tiring. Eventually, by 2016 I signed Singapore’s veteran Extreme Metal giants ‘Rudra’ to work with their album- ‘Enemy of Duality’. That was a big break and there was no looking back since then. I eventually went to work with dozens of bands after that. I will always be grateful to Rudra for the kind of support and faith they instilled in me. Proximity Music Management (then Proximity productions) was a sole journey as I was handling pretty much everything on my own, single handed until recently I set up another team in Philippines and rebranded everything. My trusted friend Mary is my partner; she’s handling parts of Asia for Proximity MM. I am very excited about the new things we are planning.
TMR: Explain some of your influences in the journalism scene, as well as your favourites in the music scene as well.
Harsha: There are quite a few people here who are keeping it real with respect to the ‘journalism’ as such. At the same time, we need real news and thing that are worth mentioning and talking about. If we continue catering to what the audience love gossiping about; we will lose the very essence of ‘journalism’ as such. Media houses need to change that perspective. We can do it once in a while, make a joke or so, post about what so and so artist thinks about XYZ bands and vice versa but ultimately you are minting money out of butthurt opinions of a third person. Plus, I am too old to be offended by things such as so and so bands and its members having certain political, social, religious inclinations or just about anyone in that case. If certain publications continue to feed the audience what they keep gossiping about then they are just bringing themselves notches lower and quality takes a back stand. We need quality stuff. The only thing that genuinely pisses me off are double standards, lies and hypocrisy be it be anywhere in life.
Here’s one of his new clients Ragnhild, a melodic death metal band. He also represents many more bands as well.
TMR: Who are your favourite bands right now? Drop some links for people to check out!
Harsha: I like Orpheus Omega (I will be getting their new album this month), Godless from India, there’s even Soreption that I am digging a lot! Though, I haven’t had much time to check new music I still try to keep up.
TMR: What are the struggles promoting music from your country? North America, South America and Europe have all sorts of heavy metal, and Scandinavian countries as well. Not many people associate India with the genre, but I for one am digging some of the bands in India right now for sure they’re great!
Harsha: Thank you, Dave! I think every region or market have their own challenges. In India, I think it’s slightly different. Most of the Metal supporting cities are far away from each other; so, the base expenses involved are too high let alone break even. Many promoters/ bands here are not in a position to invest in a ‘buy-on’ tour and I don’t think the India sub-continent allows anyone to do that here, unless a band from here has enough money to go tour Europe or NA; I am not a big fan of it but I understand why some touring agencies go for a buy-on option. It does come with its own advantages and disadvantages. In India, if a band makes money after covering all their base expenses like travel, food and accommodation and promoters too after all their production expenses; congrats you are in the elite group now hahaha! It’s a rare scenario. You wouldn’t always get sponsors to back you for this. Everything boils down to the fact that the attendance in a metal gig should allow the band and the promoter to break even.
The band I just promoted Plague Throat is planning an Asian tour in the fall!
TMR: Explain your choice to branch out your company. You now book and promote shows in India, not just PR. What motivations led to this decision? I’m very proud of how far you’ve come, by the way. Keep up the great work!
Harsha: Thank you once again for the kind words. You know, like I mentioned earlier, it was started with the idea to make touring more consistent. I have done a handful so far, I am proud of it. I am grateful to all the promoters, venues who have been a part of this long journey. In fact, I did a couple of them outside India to take it outside Asia. Earlier this year, I announced a big project- Plague Throat’s Asia Tour. I hope this paves way for my vision and aim I carry for my bands. The PR was done in an attempt to support young, budding bands and their new records. It comes with a lot of planning but it has its own challenges.
TMR: Explain your other adventure MetalJesus Magazine.
Harsha: Metaljesus Magazine was formed with another friend of mine together the same year we formed Proximity. He now lives in another city handling his business there. Right now, I don’t have a big team as such. I am struggling to keep it active with little time that I get. There are 4-5 people in the team right now but yeah, I hope I can change it this year. Our Swedish team is all up and geared too! I do have some plans for it.
TMR: I think we can both sympathize the time and effort it takes to run a few machines of our own. What keeps you going? How hard is it to handle two big jobs at once? you have a lot of traffic for both Proximity and MJ Magazine, tell our followers how you can balance it all it’s so time-consuming doing what we do.
Harsha: Oh yes, it’s hard. I have a regular day job but I try to keep both of my ventures up and running as much as I can. It has its lows and highs but I think staying motivated is hard in a business like this. I have learnt to be patient though. I know I have a long way to go, I still try to learn from other people who have been doing it for decades and are far more experienced than I am.
TMR: Explain how you came to the choice to interview Gene Hoglan. That was a cool piece by the way.
Harsha: I am glad you liked it. It was done quite some time ago. I have always wanted to interview Gene since the beginning of Metaljesus. I am sure we all want to talk to our heroes that we have grown up watching haha!
TMR: What new releases are you looking forward to in 2019? And what have you enjoyed so far?
Harsha: I loved the new Rotting Christ album. I love this band! They are criminally underrated. I am also looking forward to some Drudkh, Children of Bodom, Whitechapel, Eluveitie, Exumer, Myrath, Hammerfall to name a few!
TMR: Any new things coming up you’d like to share from either project of yours?
Harsha: Sure, we have a bunch of tours coming up! New upcoming releases for Proximity PR include- Ragnhild, R.A.I.D. I think we can reveal the other projects once the time is right or somewhere closer to the announcement haha to build traction towards it! Thank you for thinking of interviewing me, Dave.
These are just four of the bands Harsha promotes through Proximity Music Management. Keep up with his work on both Proximity Music Management and MetalJesus Magazine as well.