© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2020

Thousands of people tune in to watch musical duo

Charlotte Grimwood

Neighbours in isolation together started live streaming concerts on Facebook after their planned gigs were cancelled.

Kimberly Van'Drine and Matthew Gardner performing.

Matthew Gardner moved to Mumbai, India, with his family last year, as he and his Indian wife wanted their children to know their culture and spend time with family.  When they visited their neighbours, the Van’Drine family, he saw “musical equipment everywhere” and discovered their mutual interest.

Gardner always had a passion for music. He taught himself guitar at a young age and became “obsessed” with it, playing in several bands. He studied engineering at the University of Canterbury and after completing his degree he studied at the New Zealand School of Music, with an interest in Jazz and Latin.

True School of Music third year student, Kimberly Van’Drine, got special acceptance into the degree programme at 15, while finishing New Zealand’s equivalent of high school. Van’Drine said her grandfather had been a musician for about 50 years and her parents have a band, so “it’s just in the blood”.

Van’Drine said Mumbai had been a 24-hour city, “always buzzing” with “music anywhere at any time”, but since lockdown the city was lifeless.

“Our street you see no one, maybe one or two people a day go past my window,” Gardner said.

“Since we have the means to play music, why not just do a little bit for whoever listens,” Van’Drine said.

Both had hectic schedules, so their live performances were “spontaneous” and “fun” Gardner said.

During lockdown the two families were in the same bubble, played music together in their spare time and sometimes made a setlist to live stream.

Their live stream on Facebook reached over 5,000 views. It started with about 500 people watching live and grew for each video, they said.

The duo said the live music scene was picking up in Mumbai, with cafés and clubs with music genres ranging from Western to Indian music.

Van’Drine said the indie music scene, where artists music is original and not associated with a record label, was becoming more popular and an Indian artist, Prateek Kuhad, was featured in Barack Obama’s favourite music list, with his original music.

“I think Indian artists are picking up the area,” she said.

Van’Drine also performed in a student concert fundraiser, Feed Me Live, which provided meals for daily wagers stranded in cities.

Gardner said his family had planned to return from their six-month trip in May and their flights hadn't been cancelled but they are doubtful they will run. 

They got internet connection days before lockdown started and he still had a regular workload based from home. He said they were happy and safe in Mumbai and would return when it’s safe for them to do so.