delhi

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.

The Roots

As another year passes me by, it seems like only yesterday my journey into the world of music had begun. Yesterday being Holi, I realised how remarkable my Holi was last year when I was working on a project that combined all sorts of noises into a background score track. At times like these, you cant help but get nostalgic and wonder how it all begun, whether you would have done anything differently or what would have happened had you not gone down certain paths. I find myself listening to songs and revisiting ideas that got me interested in music in the first place.

When I was about 11 years old, my first interaction with music that seemed interesting was rap music. My sister used to record mixtapes from the radio and dance to them, and one day I wondered into her practice room just to listen to music and 'Without Me' by Eminem started playing. What immediately attracted my attention was the fact that how everything was so brilliantly syncopated rhythmically while Eminem rapped and it sounded fun. An eventual connection with rap music developed over the next couple of years and I became a huge Eminem fan.

That was of course before the teenage years struck and my first contact with genres like Nu-Metal happened. While I very strongly rejected that genre of music the first time I heard 'Hybrid Theory' by Linkin Park, I started liking it as I kept listening to it. And that is where the power of groove lies. If your music is groovy and keeps the listener interested, you've done 95% of your job as a musician.

 
 

Forwarding to present day, I've spent the entire day doing nothing more than writing an article, and figuring out how to play the samples/fx for One Step Closer by Linkin Park. Apparently old habits die hard. A friend called, one thing led to the other and turns out I'm doing the FX/Samples for a few of the songs being played at a Nu Metal Cover night being held at Turquoise Cottage, a nearby gig hotspot. 

Talking to a friend, I realised I feel like DJ Hahn and I hysterically kept laughing for about ten minutes. The reason? I don't know. I don't think I've ever seen myself as a DJ person in strict sense of the word. I think the word DJ has been bastardized, ruined and completely destroyed by the present culture where it can mean a variety of things and not all of them might be good.

Reminds me of the rather cringe-worthy cover of Somewhere I Belong I did 6-7 years ago when I used to actually be a rap fan, not anymore though. But I realise that roots, the crazy thing about them is once they grow, they're set in stone. You can't move them. You could always create a new tree. But that weird pull will always stay there like a sour first-relationship gone bad.

Oh, and more APC 40 goodness coming your way this Sunday, woooot.

Record. Pause. Repeat.

Hello and welcome to another look at the daily life and day-to-day happenings of an aspiring sound engineer and musician. Oh, and did I say struggling? Yes, that too. It's a tough life trying to piece together a career out of music especially a place like Delhi, where competition is quite a bit.

The only time everything seems worth it is when people actually come to you to get their song/album recorded or maybe, give you some work. Srishti is a person I've known for a few years now and has always been supportive and helpful whenever I'm looking for new projects or something interesting that I feel, could challenge me as a musician or a producer.

A friend of Srishti used to play for Soul Reverb, a band I was associated with for a short time. His name was Neeraj Debakshi, and he was playing in another band that went by the name of Serenity Infused. Neeraj came in touch with me and asked me if I could record their song at my home studio. I looked at it as an opportunity and decided to agree.

Now this band wasn't the typical rock band, so I looked upon it as a challenge. They're a fusion band that combines elements of Indian classical music with progressive rock influences. They also had a tabla player, which would mean it would take much longer to record, as tabla is a unique instrument in terms of timbre, mic-positioning required and processing.

We decided to start recording in the evening at about 4 pm as I had other work to take care of, at SoundSpeaks at the time. I came back and we started with Guitars as we had finished programming drums the previous day. It took about four hours to completely sort out the guitars, which was followed by Bass and that took about an hour.

Tabla was special, and we took some time experimenting with several mic positions. Since I didn't have too many mics, just a couple of SM57's, it's not like there was too much room for experimentation either. But I think we finally settled at a certain position. One thing I realised later on though was the error I made of keeping the mics too close to the tabla player's hands. there were a lot of small intervals of time where he would unintentionally end up flicking the mic.

It was basically hell on earth, with processing the tabla. Even with the editing. There were huge errors in come places. If the whole song took 10 units of effort, I would probably say the tabla took about 4. It was that hard. But in the end, somehow managed to make it sound crisp and a little snappy.

The vocals gave me a pretty hard time too. But that's pretty much how your life is supposed to be when you're producing a song. It takes a lot of hardwork to make one sound good. I remember spending entire nights going through tons of forums and googling stuff, not because it was work. But because I found it so interesting.

Time just flies when you're doing things you love.

PurpleGreen

During the period of Oct 2011 to Jan 2012, I was pretty much out of work and music to make. My first band had just broken up after a bad gig, and I was taking my time to recover from all the bad vibes and negativity that had taken quite a lot of space in my head.

Even though I didn't really play music for some time, I decided it was time to work on my own music for a while. I decided to start from scratch right from Day 1 and made it a priority to try and become better at what I do, music-wise and focus on progress and positivity. It was time to let go.

Another friend Mayurath, a guitarist that plays (now in the past) for a band 'Purple in Green' has always been around and we keep in constant touch. He was just a kid back then, and I think he still is in school. Even though he's a kid, He's a huge fan of progressive metal and he made more than a few demos during that time.

He was looking for a keyboardist for live performances and somebody who would help him record a few demos and I being out of work for a while, didn't think it was a bad idea at all. There was a period of about a few weeks where we used to jam at his place regularly like once or twice a week.

 
 
 
 

We sat down and worked on a pre-production demo of his track 'Perry'. We fooled around a little bit with sounds and music, there used to be the occasional drummer to give us company. There were plenty of inside jokes accompanied with sniggers and maniacal laughter, and we just sat and listened to stuff lots of times. They were fun times.

I made him hear a few demos I was working on my own at the time. Half an hour sound-experiments. We would just sit staring at windows and glasses of water while the whole thing played. We have always been into trippy music, music with experimental vibes. It's always good to experiment as a musician, I feel.

 

Above : A video of a song 'Rapture' by Urban Soundscape, a band that made quite trippy music and whose music I heard on a number of instances while jamming with Purple in Green and looking for inspiration.