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Riyaaz: Shaking up Hong Kong's Live Music Scene with 'The Zero Point'

By Suzannah_Van_Rooy 5 December 2016
Live music event The Zero Point will make its debut at Grappa's Cellar on December 10. This celebration of South Asian sounds caused such excitement in Hong Kong that tickets sold out within days of release. For sneak peeks and news of future events, keep your eye on the Facebook page.

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For all you live music junkies whose itch for shows cannot be scratched by a mere weekend of Clockenflapping, fret not. Hong Kong musical group Riyaaz is bringing a new and unique South Asian line-up to the city at its first event, The Zero Point. A game changer for Hong Kong's live music circuit, The Zero Point aims to revive the intimacy of the scene in the 852, with acoustic vibes from artists across the globe in the cosy living room setting of iconic venue Grappa's Cellar.

From funk, RnB, and soul, to sufi, folk, Bollywood, and Hindustani classical, The Zero Point promises not to be your average gig. We catch up with the four women behind the group Riyaaz - Muskaan Samtani, Suhani Jain, Supriya Mundhra, Radhika Ahuja - ahead of the big night to find out how they want to change live music in Hong Kong.


 What's the inspiration for bringing Riyaaz and The Zero Point to Hong Kong?

We've all had amazing experiences collaborating with South Asian musicians throughout our lives, but after moving to Hong Kong we felt a void. There wasn't a collaborative space for musicians to try new things without the pressure of competition, or the worry of filling up a show. In addition, the South Asian music scene in Hong Kong is almost non-existent, other than huge Bollywood music nights or celebrity DJ acts, which are completely misrepresentative of the musical reality in the subcontinent. There are amazing things happening, like live shows with independent and alternative music. In countries like India and Pakistan, shows like Coke Studio and MTV Unplugged have a real focus on the artist and their music - and they're hugely popular. Riyaaz came about because we, the four of co-founders, all shared the same musical vision. We wanted to try and blend aspects of the various genres of music that exist within South Asia. We all come from slightly different backgrounds and enjoy different types of music like movie tunes, independent bands, classical songs, sufi ghazals, pop tunes, and sounds from around the world; jazz, RnB, pop, folk, soul, Persian folk, and Latin fusion. The Zero Point is our first show together, along with about 20 others who were searching for an outlet to collaborate, discover, and perform music. We've created a more fresh and interactive listening experience than what people are used to, by choosing an intimate venue, featuring a young and dynamic cast, and showcasing music that is current and edgy, yet tasteful. The Zero Point By Riyaaz

Tell us about yourselves and the roles you play in Riyaaz ...

[caption id="attachment_77213" align="alignleft" width="120"]Suhani Suhani - The Story Teller[/caption] Suhani: I make sure that news of The Zero Point reaches its audience through social content, on the web and in print. I've had 8 years of experience running music and theatre shows in India and Hong Kong and first learned how to croon with an Indian ensemble, Artistes Unlimited. The memories I made on tour, singing and recording with the group, are my fondest and have driven my passion for curating creative material for this show. When I'm not with Riyaaz, I run the Social and Content division for a successful e-commerce startup. [caption id="attachment_77215" align="alignleft" width="120"]Supriya Supriya - The Visionary[/caption] Supriya: I came up with the idea for The Zero Point after performing in a fusion show last year, and have been working to make it happen since. I learned heaps about managing music groups during my time as a founding member of a thriving a cappella group at Cornell, and have been able to use that to bring together a team of artistes and organisers for this event as well. As the director of this show, I handle the musical direction, curation, planning, and oversight on most aspects of the show. [caption id="attachment_77212" align="alignleft" width="120"]Radhika Radhika - The Make Happener[/caption] Radhika: I manage the logistics and help with the curation of the show. This basically involves everything from location scouting and scheduling, to admin management and marketing, and even music arrangement - I make sure that all of the boxes are ticked and everything is in place. I've also been involved with a wide range of open mic nights on the Hong Kong jazz circuit, live shows, and I've sung for RTHK radio.
[caption id="attachment_77214" align="alignleft" width="120"]Muskaan Muskaan - The Budgeter[/caption] Muskaan: Aside from being a singer and a performer, I have the crucial task of raising funds, making sense of excel sheets, and keeping a strict eye on budget. Outside of Riyaaz, I head business development for an Edutech firm in Hong Kong while being a new mommy on the block. With a strong background in events management in Canada and Hong Kong, I most recently served as assistant producer for In Harmony, a novel music show which debuted last year.

What do you hope The Zero Point will accomplish?

We not only want to spread our passion for Indian music to our audience, but we want to renew it within ourselves as performers. Love, work, and sleepless nights have gone into creating this experience and we hope that the intense rewards we have received from putting the show together transfer to those who come and enjoy it. Our efforts are worth nothing if the audience don't enjoy themselves. Of course, we hope that we have created a show that our fans will crave year after year - but more importantly, we hope that this event will be a catalyst for more musical activity in the local community. We want to establish a platform and a passion project for musically talented people in Hong Kong. Quite simply, we'll be overjoyed if the The Zero Point encourages people to develop themselves musically.

Read more! Check out Hong Kong's 12 Best Live Jazz Bars or 12 Festive Things To Do in Hong Kong This Christmas.

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