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Artist Management as an Art Practice with Prakriti Abel’s Interbeing

It is unfortunate, but we live in times where it is common for art to be seen as a product devoid of practice. At some point, since electronic music entered the mainstream, the scales tipped in favour of capitalism and ideas of commerce overshadowed the joy of creation. If one were to track the history of how electronic music came into being, they’d discover that its roots lie in breaking away from the same consumerist practices that haunt it today.

Far from the freedom of exploration that lay at the roots of electronic music, the forces of popular culture pushed it towards the fastest route to fame, money and cheap thrills. Today, in the popular imagination, electronic music has become synonymous with mindless consumption, unending debauchery and escaping real-world problems by throwing money at them.

The landscape of management agencies and promoters of electronic music are to blame to some extent. To make money and grow financially, the middlemen have often moulded artists into golden hens that subscribe to a formula of success rather than creativity. With this has come an endless attempt to normalise questionable practices and problematic behaviours that have reduced the value of the art to that of a gourmet burger.

As with all systems, some outliers subscribe to practices that differentiate them from the run-of-the-mill. One such voice on the Indian music scene has been that of Prakriti Abel, who has been dedicated to pushing the artist’s voice over profits. In the 8 years she has spent in the electronic music industry, she has grown from organising events to launching her venture, Interbeing.

After a stint in organising tech and investment events taught her all about event management, she started her journey in electronic music as a project manager at Wild City. At Wild City, she stepped into the eye of the storm – Magnetic Fields – quickly learning the ropes of a festival that has paved the way for electronic music in India. In the absence of events during the pandemic, she moved on to Qilla Records, where she learnt the ropes of artist management for their impressive roster.

While she considers her time at Qilla a rewarding experience, she and those around her, saw in her the entrepreneurial spark that has the potential to catalyse a change that has been gaining critical mass with outspoken critics, evolving artists and rising support systems. Tired of being manipulated by the invisible hand of capitalism, artists have found Prakriti’s motivation towards clear boundaries, kind conversations and compassionate processes a huge sigh of relief.

Being a smart cookie, Prakriti has a head for numbers which have allowed her to fare well with the more conventional job roles that come with being an artist manager. In the industry, 90% of which is managed by men, she has carved a niche for herself, through her work ethic and unrelenting belief in equality. In a testament to her exceptional skills as an artist manager, she has translated her work relationships into massive support for Interbeing. Shunning the labels of a management agency, record label or promoter, Prakriti says that Interbeing is an entity in its own right, which will embark on pushing the boundaries of formats, releases and practices within the industry.

Hailing from a family of artists, Prakriti has been privy to the process of how art is made from the core of a person. Acknowledging the value of the connection between art and the artist, she approaches management as an artistic practice in itself. Baked into her process is deep reflection on the artists she onboards, heart-to-heart conversations about their journeys and ample space for the artist to push, wiggle and grow. In a step that is characteristic of female artist managers who care about the well-being of those they manage and who don’t see it as solely a numbers game, Prakriti has mindfully opted to keep the roster limited to those whose art she feels connected to rather than see it as an opportunity to brag about her skills as a manager.

Not one to wear rose-tinted glasses, Prakriti has taken the long-term investment in herself, her artists and the idea of Interbeing in her stride. As with any creative journey, the rewards come in the form of lessons that heighten her self-awareness. In managing artists for Qilla, she has learnt that the flow she craves demands a 360-degree approach to managing and booking an artist. With a holistic view of the artist and industry, Interbeing enters the industry as a channel for spaces and practices that emerge when supported at every step along the way. In this off-the-centre approach of growing Interbeing organically, she is keen on offering support to historically absent voices in the scene – particularly women.

As a woman herself, Prakriti has seen the industry change, even if it is at a snail’s pace. Without any hesitation, she acknowledges the shortcomings of the industry vis-a-vis tokenisation, capitalism and commodification, but instead of concerning herself with what’s wrong, she chooses to change it through what she wants to do. Though her efforts might seem like a drop in the ocean, she is confident that it is the right time and place for her vision to manifest in the physical realm.

In the first few steps of launching Interbeing, she brings along a roster of artists she was managing at Qilla. For her first project, she is promoting and booking for a collaborative EP between Kohra and Monophonik launched under the label space lab. Composed at Kohra’s Goa studio amidst the monsoons of 2023, “Jugalbandi” began as a joint canvas for both artists to exchange concepts and share their mutual love of synthesizers and their unpredictable behavior. Drawing inspiration from the enchanting vistas of Goa’s psychedelic landscape, the EP moves through rolling basslines, shimmering percussion, and pulsating rhythms that intertwine with ethereal melodies.

Later in the year, she will work with long-time collaborator and producer, Zequenx, to release the latter’s debut EP on Qilla Records. For those who think artist management is all party and no leg-work, Prakriti paints a real-world picture of the work that goes into being a successful manager while keeping alive your creativity. In a world of binaries, Prakriti is a wonderful example of walking the line in-between, and we’re here for it!

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