Percept in the News

Sunburn, India’s only electronic music festival with a top lineup of international DJs turns four.
27 December, 2010

They say it takes the brain three days to correct itself. American psychologist George M Stratton’s theory of perceptual adaptation the theory that our brain and senses collaborate is put to test for three days every year in Goa.Three days which seduce the senses with music, nature and good vibes. Three days in which your brain allows you to live a normal life with an altered perception of a normal life. This altered perception is Sunburn, India’s only electronic dance music (EDM) festival, where worries have no space and the only agenda is to lose yourself to the hypnotising sound of the waves and EDM with some generous help from alcohol. Rated as Asia’s most popular music festival, Sunburn, which started in 2007, has given Indians the chance to hear some of the biggest international names in EDM and has also pushed local talent like Midival Punditz and Jalebee Cartel to the fore.

If the debut year saw crowd-pullers like Carl Cox, Above and Beyond and Axwell hit the beach, 2008, the year of the Mumbai attacks, played host to GMS, John Fleming and Richard Durand. Last year, Armin van Buuren, the world’s numero uno DJ, headlined the festival. The fourth edition of the festival is set to feature Paul van Dyk, Axwell and Ferry Corsten, along with GMS, John Fleming and Richard Durand, a lineup that has fans salivating. The idea of Sunburn was born, fittingly enough, in Ibiza, where MTV VJ Nikhil Chinapa and his then DJ girlfriend now-wife Pearl were vacationing. Pearl and I were travelling and partying for three weeks, says Chinapa, who is the creative head of Sunburn. 
In Ibiza, in London. As long as there was music and we could dance, we went. Wed watch the sunset, have dinner, go to sleep, wake up at 2 am and hit the clubs by 3 am. We were having loads of fun, but there was a sentiment we shared at the end of every single night at every single club in Ibiza we wished we had our friends around us thats what kick started it all. The couple came back to India and started booking DJs they had met abroad to play at small events. We had started organising this free-to-the-public beach party at Zanzibar in Goa, says Chinapa. Play music at the beach. That is the essence of Sunburn. Their dream was helped along by a sponsor. In stepped Percept, who wanted to help grow the grossly neglected EDM space in India. 

We have the youngest population in the world.EDM allows you to be who you want to be, says Shailendra Singh, Managing Director of one of India’s largest entertainment conglomerate.Theres a certain amount of originality and individuality in EDM. Agreed that the percentage of listeners is small, but if out of 70,000 fans, 30,000 come to Goa, then its a space I cant ignore. Even though I lost Rs 60 to 70 lakh in the first year,I believed in what wed created. Chinapa came up with the zany name Sunburn, though as the story goes, it could have very well been called the India International Dance festival. This would make it sound like some boring, government affair, Chinapa chuckles. From 5,000 people at Candolim beach in 2007 to 35,000 in 2009, Sunburn has managed to capture the imagination of the very young population that Singh speaks of. With its flea markets and stalls, rock climbing, spa, volleyball court and dedicated bars, Sunburn appeals to more than music in the music lover. Voted as one of the best festivals in the world, the stunning naturally beauty of Goa gives the festival a unique charm. Every DJ who has played in Goa has remarked on this, says Chinapa. Sunburn is dressed up like a fairytale. From the moment you walk in, from the ticket window till the time you reach the stages, its a visually enchanting experience. As a genre, EDM is still tricky territory in India but judging by the stream of international artistes who make themselves available to play here in the Christmas week, its an unexplored market waiting to be tapped into. 

Nadia Ali, one of the hottest names in the music industry today, is a part of the 2010 lineup. The Libya-born Pakistani-American singer, whose song Love Story is also the 2010 Sunburn anthem, is excited about her Sunburn appearance. Its become bigger and is attracting international as well Indian fans in the thousands, she says. Its great for us to be surrounded by music lovers from around the world. I personally feel that the EDM scene India is growing really fast, says Ferry Corsten, one of the top DJs and a master playing everything from trance to techno to house. Clubbers are open to all styles of music. The Indian music scene has undergone a huge metamorphosis in the past decade, with staple Bollywood fare giving way to world class electronic music I’m sure EDM fans know and appreciate the best of electronic music and no tweak ing is required. Chinapa would love to take Sunburn to other cities. As a concept and lifestyle, Sun burn is open to various options, he says. We are very, very far away from having too many music festivals. We have just one. Sunburn its success is incumbent on it being unique. So one cant take Sunburn out of Goa and put it in Pune. But one can have a Sunburn Street Carnival at Kala Ghoda in Mumbai with music and painters and a hobby workshop area. Why not Yes, why not.