The month of August usually brings with it, Overture, the first MC Night of the year. The SJA, packed with eager first years, dear friends, the crowd dancing to the tunes of Bollywood or headbanging to heavy metal. How we’d love to bring back those days, but for now, the NITK Music Club brings to you, Overture – A Virtual Music Festival! 

Scheduled over 4 weeks in the month of February, this festival brings to you, the traditional music night, on a virtual platform. Overture was kick-started with the Guess the Setlist Challenge, where participants are given clues to guess the songs being covered. This was followed by an Instagram Live Session where the MC interacted with their peers. Post the live session, the first cover was released on 13th February, a cover of Grace by Lewis Capaldi. This was followed by 3 more releases, Samajavaragamana by Shreya Ghoshal, You Know I’m No Good by Amy Winehouse and finally Ennadi Maayavi Nee by Sid Sriram. With more covers slated to release over the next few weeks, we interviewed some members of the MC involved in this production to get an insight into what went on behind the scenes of Overture. 

Introduction to the interviewees

Linu George – Convenor and Western Vocalist, Siddharth Lanka –  Guitarist, Pranav Krishna – Joint Convenor and Drummer, Anushruta Tripathi – Editor and Drummer, Rajamani Ayyer – Keyboardist and Music Producer, Olan Pinto – Keyboardist. 

  1. How did the idea for a Virtual Music Festival come up?
    MC Night on campus was a pretty big event, for all the freshers that don’t know about it. We used to present about 15-20 songs across different genres at the SJA or the Pavillion. More than the performance, it was also about bringing people together, spending time with some good music and having a fun time. We missed the feeling of performing and wanted to give something, both to ourselves and the other students, and thus the idea to hold a virtual MC night/festival. – Linu George
  2. What was the process for recording?
    We had to follow different protocols for each component of a song. Since most of our members did not have professional recording equipment, we had to figure out ways to record with the available devices while still maintaining quality. It was a new thing for everyone. For vocals, we had to download some applications for better recording quality, ask everyone at home to stay really quiet, even went up to the extent of shoving our phones in a cupboard to drown out all the noise. – Linu George
    For drums, since we used acoustic drums and not electronic drums, we had to record each component separately, and then sync all of it. We had to place towels over and cushions inside the drum to reduce the resonance. Recording each part separately may not sound too hard, but playing the drums together comes naturally to us. When we have to single out each component, it becomes hard to synchronise.  – Pranav Krishna
    One of the most common problems was the lack of an instrument at home. For keys, I had to borrow from my relatives and record. The problem with this is that you don’t get too long with the keyboard to record as many times as you’d like, you get a few golden hours and that would have to be your final take. – Olan Pinto
    For guitar, again with no professional recording equipment, it was a game of balancing the echo and tone. While recording something for the second time, syncing exactly with the first version of it was quite hard, in general most instrumentalists don’t play something the exact same way the second time. – Siddharth Lanka
  3. How did you go about editing the videos?
    It was impossible for one person to edit all the videos, since each video takes about 2-3 days of constant work for the perfect output. I took classes for the members of the MC and taught them the basics of video editing, basically everything required for Overture, and everyone picked it up quite quickly. As for recording videos, since we don’t all own professional cameras, we sent out guidelines to make sure our videos were uniform to an extent. The rest, we fixed by colour correcting to make it look like they were all recorded in a similar setting. In case of a slow laptop, each video took a long time to process, in the middle of which the laptop would crash too. Each video takes 2-3 days, it’s a constant loop of editing and receiving feedback from the others. Not everyone understands the efforts and patience that goes into editing a video, one cannot even speed up the process by watching it on 2x. – Anushruta Tripathi 
  4. Can you tell us something about the audio production process?
    One of the first projects we worked on for Overture was actually the Christmas Medley which was released in December. The medley had about 7-8 vocal tracks that needed to be synced. It requires a lot of patience and is very challenging. The first mix will never satisfy everyone, there are always inputs that you must work on. On an average it took about 3-4 re-recordings and mixes to get everything pitch perfect. – Rajamani Ayyer
  5. In general, what has been your experience with Overture, and what makes it different from the usual MC nights?
    Seeing all our efforts bear fruit is quite relieving, because we know the blood, sweat and tears that went into this Virtual Festival. – Linu George
    When we jam in the MC, it’s very easy to pick up songs, working together. When alone, it’s a little harder, and a lot lonelier. The one good thing about recording, being a perfectionist is that you can re-record until you’re satisfied. – Siddharth Lanka
    While performing on stage, even if you don’t have stage fear, there’s that nervousness about getting it all right. That doesn’t happen when it’s offline, because you can master the song and record a perfect take. – Olan Pinto

The first few covers of Overture are up on the instagram page of the NITK Music Club, at the handle given below, with more slated to release soon. As mentioned above by the members, a lot of effort has gone into producing this Virtual Music Festival, so do like, share and comment to show your appreciation for their music. Follow the NITK Music Club at the handle given below: