jams

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.

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.

GAMETYM!

One of my cooler hobbies when I'm not playing music or writing or maintaining blogs is to play games. I just recently finished Bioshock : Infinite and Crysis 3. I love to shoot stuff. First-Person Shooter Games are my second love. Perhaps that's one of the reasons I like chip-tune influenced music as well.

I recently joined an experimental/progressive metal band called Heisenberg as a full-time keyboardist. We jammed more than a couple of times and things just sort of, fit together. Even though it's just been a couple of months playing with Heisenberg, The energy and the vibe is incredible. The band has some incredibly talented people.

Somewhere around early October this year, I got a mail from Heisenberg's drummer Dipan Das. He had been working on an original composition on his own. He thought it would be a good idea to share it with us all. I heard the track a couple of time, and the guitars sounded pretty well done. The drums sounded pretty good too.

 
 

Now, having the creative itch that I have to work on almost anything interesting that comes my way, I decided to try working on keyboard stems for the track. I had recently got myself a copy of Logic Pro X and just upgraded my Mac to Snow Leopard and I figured it would be a nice way to test out the system.

What I ended up inadvertently playing on the track were a lot of chiptune sounds. There was also a lot of the trademark ambient sounds, something that I tend to do a lot, the main reason for which is the fact that Porcupine Tree has always been a huge influence on me.

As if the bundling up of chiptune with ambient sounds wasn't enough, the last section of the track had a very heavy breakdown-ish rhythm to it. I was at a point of confusion again and I decided to experiment a bit more and used saxophone sounds to make something like an improvised saxophone solo. It was a really interesting track to work on, and I still keep going back to the track just for the chiptune

 
 

Heisenberg is no stranger to the chiptune genre either. I would not be lying when I say Aishwarya Uniyal, the band's guitarist was probably the guy that got me into it and it seems like a really interesting genre. Heisenberg has released 8-bit versions of all their songs, something that's really unique and unheard of, in the scene. Something that makes me praise the band even more.

I have also been doing lots of interesting sounds on the Heisenberg songs and they all have fresh makeovers, which makes me look forward to the band's next jam. There's everything ranging from dubstep to chiptune to Electronic loops, and it's crazy.

Crazy is good. Right?

 
 

Looking to The Skies

Ever since the dawn of mankind, man has been looking up to the skies for everything ranging from inspiration and direction to meditation and as part and parcel of a sense of curiosity. I tend to think it is ingrained somewhere deep in the very fabric of us all. To look at something deeper and much more larger than us and feel content with the mysteries of the universe.

It's with a similar feeling I started working on another track with friend and collaborator Aishwarya. It started once again, the usual way. I played a piano rhythm track on top of an electronic beat and sent it to him. What he created on top of that was pretty huge. He sent me back about 40 stems if I remember correctly, and it was absolutely mental going through all of them.

What I love about collaborating with other musicians is the fact that sometimes you create something that you feels vibrates from the essence of your being, and they will take it and make it their own instead. It's exchange of ideas that goes way beyond all the artificial ties and friendships we all have. It's something so untainted, so true. The fact that it exists is what makes you want to go on making music. It's the feeling you live for, as a musician.

As days and weeks passed by, I slowly ploughed through each one of them, EQ'ing, mixing and compressing them, shaping and moulding what the building blocks of the track were. Lots of times, some things wouldn't fit the way he arranged it so I would flip it around, add a couple of effects and try something new. It's always good to progress and evolve. That's what music is for me, a whirlwind of constant change.

Ultimately after about a couple of months, and some added feedback by Uniyal, I put this track up on Soundcloud. And I realised there was something very spacey and other-worldly about this track. That feeling of being a kid and having an entire universe in front of you to explore and discover, that's the feeling I wanted to convey.

One doesn't have to always get old. You just have to stay true to your heart.

Time to watch a movie. About aliens.

 
 

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.