Step no. 1

What process do you follow when writing songs? Do you have ideas that you create and go back to them later in the music production phase?

There is no particular process that I follow. Sometimes inspiration just hits and I’ll be done with the song in a few hours. Sometimes I’d come up with a chord progression, a groove or even some random sound design, go back to them later and see how to make sense of it in a song form. Sometimes I might compose a tune and then try to mix that up with a groove or sound design that I had worked on previously. It’s like putting different pieces of a puzzle together with music production

Step no. 2

Do you follow a melody based approach and how do you find the right words to go along with the melody?

It is not always a melody based approach with music production. But the last few releases have been very melody-oriented. Until I had locked the main melody I did not proceed further. Finding the right words to fit the melody is completely the lyric writer’s skill. As a composer it is important to convey what exactly I want in terms of the concept, the kind of syllables that I am looking for, length of the words, phrasing and the complexity of the language. Usually it falls in place after I give them a good brief with references. And we’d go about editing the lyrics or the melody later on.

Step no. 3

Tell us about some of the cool effects and gear that you've used in this song(ghosts)?

I try to explore new effects and sound design in every song I make. In Ghosts I’ve used a lot of SoundToys effects for the vocals. Shuman’s vocals are a stack of 8 different takes that are distorted with Decapitator. I’ve played a lot with Echoboy and Primaltap for Malavika’s vocals and Satish’s poem. The idea was to make it sound ‘Ghost-ly’ so I pulled up a bunch of effects and played around with the different settings until I had something I liked. Warm Audio WA 76 and Manley Vari-Mu were used for parallel compression of the bass and the main rhythm. Everything except Tabla was recorded with a Neumann U87. Tabla was recorded with an AKG C414.
Step no. 4

Which synths did you use in this song? Can you tell us when you use a soft synth versus a hardware synthesizer?

I have used Korg Minilogue XD, Moog Grandmother, Sonic Academy ANA 2, Xfer records Serum and a Spectrasonics Trillian. The main difference between a soft synth and a hardware synth is the hands-on user experience and the unpredictability of the analog world. Usually I stick to soft synths when I am working on projects that have tight deadlines and very specific references, it’s faster and easier to dial in a preset and work from that. But when I have the time and the freedom to explore the production and sound design I’d like to start from scratch with my analog synths and see where it takes me. My workflow usually involves a mixture of both because sonically they are different, I cannot say that I prefer one over the other.
Step no. 5

How do you draw the lines between when you're producing and in a creative zone vs taking up the technical side of things?

Over the last few years I have developed my skills in such a way that I try to find a balance between the two as much as possible. Working on different music with different artists, sometimes playing the role as a producer and sometimes as an engineer has taught me what to do and what not to do in both cases. So when I am producing, I keep in mind the sonics of the entire music production and make choices that would work from a mix perspective and vice versa. Engineering- Recording, Mixing is a highly creative job as well. So creativity and technicalities always go hand in hand. Finding the right balance is important.

Step no. 6

Where did the idea of fusing Indian Elements like the Sitar and Tabla come from?

The person this song is about is an Indian classical singer so the idea came from there. I find Indian music fascinating and I feel there is so much of our music that is not being explored at all in the indie music scene. There is a lot of stagnation in terms of writing and music production and that made me want to go beyond and explore these instruments and I am glad it worked out.

Step no. 7

Do you give exact directions to the musicians to what they need to record or do you prefer them adding their flair to the track, how do you go about actually getting what you want from them?

Yes, I do give them exact directions on what I want them to play. But I also give them full freedom to explore my ideas because they know their instrument best. They usually start improvising and exploring keeping my brief in mind and come up with a few options which I then use as the starting point and guide them along.
Step no. 8

What new releases are you working on?

I am currently working on another single and a 5 track EP.
Step no. 9

What was the main inspiration behind Ghosts ?

I’ve always wanted to explore pop as a genre. The song started with a chord progression and the melody just fell into place and so did the music production. There have been quite a few songs made about love, relationships, heart-break etc. But to my knowledge, no one has really made a song about ‘ghosting’. And getting ghosted by someone is a common thing that all of us face, especially with social media apps that have these uncertain notifications -“Single tick, Double tick, Seen or sometimes just online”.It leaves the person on the other side really confused. The different sets of voices, languages and effects show this confusion and despair happening inside the person’s mind. I am really happy that the writers of this song – Shuman and Satish really nailed the concept with their words.

Get in touch!

If you guys have another other questions you would like to shoot at me, just shoot me a mail at ronak@gray-spark.com.
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