Three years back The Piano Man opened sceptical doors to Delhi, not knowing whether the format will work. But, over a thousand days and shows later, it’s clear that the capital loves a live performance space that puts the artist and their art first, and of course the drinks and nibbles on the side do no harm. TPM, started by Arjun Sagar Gupta and his love of music, till date remains a one-of-its-kind space if one wants to enjoy some great jazz, lookout for new musicians, all the while indulging in grub from their restaurant — The Dirty Apron.
Recently the club opened its second outing in Gurgaon’s 32nd Avenue, and few weeks down the line we speak with Gupta on the millennium city’s response and the journey of live music in the past three years.
How’s the response been to the new TPM in Gurgaon?
The responses have been wonderful, and that is because people know what to expect from The Piano Man. A lot of people that are coming, are coming for the music and the environment. We have learnt a lot of things from the Safdarjung Enclave outfit and implemented it. We have been able to create a really immersive environment that just absorbs people into it which is just gorgeous.
How is the new club different from the Delhi counterpart?
There have been a lot of learnings in Safdarjung that have helped us influence what we have done in Gurgaon. From how we have designed the acoustics of the space to the amount of work that has gone into the production of the stage, to the change of the service floor, the addition of the bar to ensure the all the deliveries are on time to both our guests and our artists. The seating design has been reconfigured to become almost like a mini theater.
From starting the Piano Man three years back to opening your second outpost this month, how’s the journey been?
The journey has been insane and incredible, it has been equal parts of incredible stress and unbridled joy and I expect it to continue to be that way as we move forward. All in all, I wouldn’t trade this for anything else.
What barriers have you had to break to reach here today?
We have basically re-written how a restaurant can work. The idea was to neither be a bar nor be an auditorium, but to find a middle ground, which was a hybrid of both and through a lot of trial and error in operations and how we function, we have managed to get closer to that. Of course, there is a lot more to do, but the one thing that never changed from where we started is our ethos, our ideology, and our respect for artists.
How have the audience attitudes evolved over time?
The expectations of the audience have changed overtime simply because we have reinforced the equation, the mutual respect required between the stage and the audience. As people have sort of experienced it and appreciated it; it has spread like wildfire. More and more people are coming in everyday and they absorb the environment and understand and react to the environment, which is incredible.
And has there been a change in how the artists approach the space?
A lot of artists have understood the function of a venue, because, we barely had any venue that have functioned like venues are supposed to be function. It has been a proper place of exposure, so a lot of artists have understood this and they like to utilise the space as it is supposed to be used, to showcase their talent, music, their thoughts and feelings, some artists use the it as a cleanse because they need to release what’s happening inside their mind. Some artists use this to reach a larger and newer audience. Overall, more and more artists are writing in to us as they want a performance space that focuses on music.
Would you say the live music landscape in the country is headed in the right direction? How so?
The live music landscape in the country is still in a nascent stage because not many venues are working ethically. The same problems that existed 20 years ago, exists today in terms of respect for the artists, the kind of tech for the artists to perform with, for ensuring that the audience has been sensitised to the art. But at the same time because we and some other people as well are doing it, more and more people realise that this is the way forward; if you want to utilise live music to build a space; it needs to be a venue and not a bar with music. I think, overall, as time progresses will become more evident and apparent people will start creating more and more beautiful venues, and we look forward to that because it will create a new industry and ensure more spaces for artists to exhibit their talent and more people getting to hear the music because at the end of the day its for the art and the art should be presented properly.
All images: Courtesy The Piano Man Jazz Club