bands

Behind the Mirror

As I find myself feeling a little hung over after managing to barely wake up at 5 pm, I can't help thinking about the crazy, crazy gig I played with Ebonix last night. I don't really like following routine so I have been putting off writing this post for a while, primarily because I don't want this blog to turn into a primarily gig-related blog. But nonetheless, I shall talk about it a while.

I have often looked at the kind of unmarked line that exists between the audience and the musician/performer at live venues with a sort of disdain and curiosity. What if someday, the musician turns into the audience and vice-versa? What if there were no artists as per se, but only people doing abstract random things and the same people watching each other? Wouldn't it be more interesting?

Back at the gig at Matchbox, HKV, things moved pretty smooth. Happening at a venue we had never played before, it is always exciting to go to new places, figuratively and literally. The rest of it, was pretty much routine. The typical soundcheck peppered by the odd setup question and figuring out how the sound setup was going to work with the band. Hurling and moving around of gear, trying to find space and so on. Stages in Delhi, are pretty much usually quite cramped and you tend to get used to adjusting yourself according to space limitations.

As the night progressed and the other bands playing with us settled in, getting their soundcheck in order, we hung around Hauz Khas chilling, talking and discussing band strategies. The street art around that area is nothing short of amazing. with some artworks stretched out over buildings three stories long. It was nothing short of mind-blowing to look at them and be generally awed.

The gig went pretty spot-on. No major glitches or fuck-ups were noticeable as such. Probably was one of our tightest sets till date. It was a good crowd to play to. They seemed receptive and it really is a good feeling when music you've put years into gets an audience that likes and appreciates your work.

There was of course the odd fear I had of my laptop falling down as it was literally perched on top of a stand at the edge. But somehow, it fared well. There was no catastrophe, only fun.

A gig well done, makes for a good week. An interesting couple of new projects are in the works. I'm still trying to get them off the ground. But inspiration can be a hard nut to crack when you have so much going on in your life simultaneously. The situation behind the mirror is always a lot different than what it seems like, on the front. It will happen, sooner or later. Fingers crossed. Just need that one bright idea to get things going.

Guess I'll just sleep on it.

Battle Blues

As the music scene in Delhi develops and I gain a little more experience everyday, I realize that everyday is a new battle in itself. Sometimes things are smooth and ideas develop and flower into something beautiful, but there are as many days when you try and fail. But what matters is learning from mistakes and moving on to the next idea with the same dazzle in your eyes.

I attended a guitar workshop yesterday by Pranav Pahwa, one of the respected guitarists in the Delhi music scene who plays for a band called Jester, a band that fuses a lot of different elements from jazz and alternative rock among several other things. Even though the workshop was primarily for guitarists, its sometimes wonderful how you can find inspiration at the most unusual of places.

The concept of modes and their relation to scales in the musical sense seemed to be a point of discussion and I have decided to look through modes more carefully and try and grasp a little more over the period of the next few months. There was also a lot of talk and discussion about the blues, and not so surprisingly not many people in the audience even knew for certain what the 12-bar blues were. I've tried grasping and dabbling with that idea before, but to limited success.

At the same time, I found myself experimenting a lot more with synths than before at Ebonix jams, even before and after it. I've managed to add all kinds of tweaks and modulations to the patches I made for some of the songs initially. I find myself constantly changing up things. Sometimes I've been met with resistance and 'what the hell was that, bro?!' comments. But all in zest and goodwill, I hope.

I have always been a more experimental person in terms of sounds I like in music I make, while some idiosyncrasies have been accepted in the past as long as it suited the song, I don't know if that would continue. It shall be revealed, all in time.

 
 

An interesting anecdote from the jam did not fail to amuse and make me wonder about the nature of music -  there was a certain musical pattern that Vaibhav (pictured above) was trying to play while at the jam trying to connect two of our songs. And we arrived at a weird place. An almost jazz-like segue in between songs. But that was not the weird part. The weird part was when he changed up the scale a little bit. This combination of notes, almost sounding like a chord seemed to elude almost every scale we tried to play. It was kind of, crazy.

Going one step further we asked Pranav while we were at the workshop to try and improvise over that particular pattern, and it seemed to almost elude him as well. Music, I tell you never ceases to amaze and make you wonder.

Crazy? Yes. Kind of.

Tackling Issues

As a guy who's just put a couple of steps into the proverbial ocean of what is known as producing metal music, I've realized programming drums is a real pain in the arse (and mixing as well, lest I forget) I know some people who are pretty good at getting rhythms and writing them down on a drum roll. But, I'm not one of those people. My drumming abilities have always been noobish to say the least. And that's where the setup helped. I had MIDI hooked up to the computer and fortunately, the drummer was kind enough to tap that stuff down on the keys. Things became a little easier from there onwards.

My euphoria was short-lived unfortunately, as half-way through programming drums, we realized it was taking too much time and we decided to skip to the guitars. Brutal heaviness called. And I would be an idiot to not pick up the phone-call.
Guitar tracking followed, with nothing except the click at the back.This was also around the time that I figured it was not such a great idea.
Guitarists get sloppy when they just have a click. Lesson learnt.
Lesson #2 - Two takes are never enough for a clean guitar part. Especially when they're both messed up.
Lesson #3 - Editing guitars on the go > Editing later
Layers upon layers of guitars were stacked up on top of each other. Not all as good as you might think. Recording four takes of everything always helps.
Lesson #4 - The more guitars, the greater the awesome

When you're a band coming in to record your song. How tight you play pretty much defines the producer's scale of happiness. When the guitar's tight as fuck, everything eventually follows, but it's always slippery ground, when a guitarist's having a bad time with the click. I'm pretty sure most of them are like that. Nonetheless, after some incessant chatter, chips and lunch, we got back to the beast that was recording guitars. And it was almost like nothing was on time at some places. And some places seemed to have made it to the foundation stages.  And of course, everybody loves a tight band. Like this one I just came across below. What a guitar sound. I think I'm in love. Not that it's metal but nonetheless, A defined guitar sound is always a good sound, I guess.

 
 

Coming back to point, Bass tracking followed soon. It took about an hour. Which paled in comparison to the fact that guitars probably took about 5-6 hours. Then came the part where I tracked cookie monster vocals. It was my first time not recording clean vocals, so frankly I was kind of curious how I would approach it in mixing, but things turned out pretty fine in the end, I guess. Experimented with a lot of tricks like pitch shifting and parallel processing. FUNFUNFUN. Sidenote - Need to get myself a good dynamic mic soon. Gear updates soon, who knows. Woooo.

Not surprisingly, the first thing I did once recording got finished was go and grab a plate of momos / dimsum from the street vendor outside. Ah, the taste of victory. Jubilating.

Stasis

..aaaaand we're back.
Been six shaky months since I updated this blog. Sans redesigning the website, not much has changed. I would say I have been in a state of stasis. Think of it as a standstill at the crossroads of life, where I was weighing my options. Call it a bet with the devil, a game of chess with the universe or maybe tracing a map if you will.

That changed pretty much last week, when I finally decided to work on some of my own music, brand new stuff. (no spoilers yet). You see, making music isn't really like a tap of water. You can't turn it off or on whenever you want, It just sort of happens when it does. In the meanwhile, life happens. You learn to schedule and mould your life around seemingly random bursts of ideas, concepts and thoughts in your head. Sometimes it leads to magic, sometimes it just not enough.

I'm writing this as I slowly try and burst out of my creative block, I wonder what I could equate with that feeling of inspiration without alienating my fellow readers, however small the count maybe at the moment. Chips! Yes, it's like a bag of chips. So many of them in a bag. they're all the same but they're all err, tasty. Maybe not to the odd diet-conscious anorexic, but you get the drift.

Putting rants aside, I've started work on a band's song that I recorded the past weekend in addition to some more interesting ideas/projects that lie ahead this month. This one's sounding pretty heavy as fuck at the moment. I'm thinking Jambi meets Kyuss? Another two days full of hard work ought to do the trick. Time's ticking.

Tick Tock.

Ciao civilization, for a while.