The Soundcheck Project:-
Meet Margub Ali, a well known gig photographer from Calcutta who has been working with the best artists in the business. His work has been featured numerous times on Rolling Stones India and NH7. His idea has always been to support the independent music scene. Working on weekends and following a DYI protocol, Ali started the Soundcheck Project with a vision.
On 30th August, he presented the first live gig of the Sound Check project at the Princeton club presented by Nishit Arora‘s Smoke Inc. The gig was a thrill which featured Deep Phoenix, The Suitables, The Monkey in Me and Jeepers Creepers.
FireMud: How did Sound Check Project start?
Ali: See, My city is blessed with brilliant and talented musicians/bands. And I was blessed to be a part of it, wanted to do add as much material possible to push it forward.
But doing all of this with no sponsors was a pain but it seemed the right thing to do. So, I did. And like minded people got in touch.
FireMud: What was the main philosophy behind it? Who were on board with you?
Ali: The idea was lurking from the first time that I had seen and followed the various video projects that young cinematographers had been working on, all around the globe; this had trickled to something very honest, very pure. People having the opportunity to showcase young and raw talent from their respective cities!!
I had made a write up and had taken this idea to various studio houses last year. Since this wasn’t a very profitable venture, none showed much interest. I sold off my electric guitar, and got a recorder through a friend from US, which was shipped to Bombay, and a friend had bought that back here. With only my DSLR gear and recorder, I had initially started this off with (short film maker and Engg) Anish Chakraborty, who is still doing the editing part. Then after watching my interest in the scene, good people like Allan Temjen Ao (FLI, Fossils) showed interest and started doing the sound mastering. Along with this, many more have helped us at various stages in the shooting and still continue to do.
FireMud: Could you describe your initial hiccups and how you over came them?
Ali: Everything, from choosing musicians to shooting at various locations was haphazard. Things seemed to become smoother by mid season.
FireMud: How long did it take to complete the project?
Ali: The first season is ending very soon; we are getting the season finale ready. And with that a live gig dedicated with the ‘Sound Check’ musicians are also in order at Jamsteady (Princeton Club) 30th of this month.
FireMud: Any special reason to name this The SoundCheck Project?
Ali: Let’s see, I had a list of 15 odd names. The main people who helped me carve the name would be Allan Ao & Nitin Mani (The Supersonics, Bandage).
Soundcheck being a very initial part of getting everything right before an onstage show, we just decided on this. The video shoot will be uncut, sound would be raw at times, but still my city musicians will have some videos to show.
FireMud: On a personal front, how did you get into music?
Ali: Hmm, as a toddler – dad had a radio company, so music influences initially came from thumri, ghazals,etc there. And when I was young a friend ruined my listening capabilities with Black Sabbath – reunion cassette. So from that point I guess, there was no looking back. I still have a copy of that by the way.
FireMud: You have worked as a photographer with Rolling Stones India and various other magazines and E-zines. How did you get into it?
Ali: I guess, after a point of time when you get better at your craft somehow you feel that you have to represent not only yourself but your city/state at a certain level. I had started out with various various webzines like ‘Whats the Scene’ and then shot for Avantika magazine. After this Rollingstone & NH7 happened. Honestly I am not done yet, have to take gig photography of this city to a certain level. And this is not a lucrative and flashy profession as it looks, I know some brilliant photographers who had left this only for the uncertainty of regular gigs coverage. For me not only my day job (civil engineering) but this too has a very professional aspect to it.
I wish to be alive and see the young guns to take gig photography as a profession, and not a past time or a hobby.
FireMud: What were some of the most memorable moments of this project?
Ali: The first one actually was very interesting to do. So, we shot Bodhi and Tanya (who are also members of Zoo) first although had shared it much later. Was exciting to work in something which I never thought will get such a good reaction from the city people and elsewhere. And at the finale while doing a small interview, what Amyt said will always be in my best memories.
And we shot, from the tightest of spaces (Introvert video), to large gardens/outdoors, and every situation was different and challenging.
Was difficult at times, but worth doing.
FireMud: How would you look back at this today since the inception of the idea?
Ali: Being a civil engineer, and having a job my schedule is mostly packed. Although this leaves me little time to actually spend time with family and friends, I hope not only for myself, but for the whole scene, it’s worth it.
FireMud: What lies in store? Will there be a second season to SoundCheck Project?
Ali: Yes, Inshallah yes. We are very hopeful to continue this and trickle it into reaching much more talent from this part of the country. With a city filled with so much talent & passion, the people who are attached to this have a duty to it. The scene needs to stick together, irrespective of genres, and irrespective of who does music, photography, is an Editor or a Light Engineer. We are all one, and belong to this very underground scene. The main target is to get people to have interest in music and share the material which is coming out of the city. I am just playing a very small role.
The current music scene is me, it is you, it is all of us and hopefully this will continue with an honest and dedicated vibe.
Watch all the artists on this project at:
Another great season is in the offing which will guarantee you fresh music. Follow this link to learn more: