We have something a little special here today, ahead of the launch of "Swarm Intel Vol 1", the first release from Goa's brand new imprint OCL Records. We took the time to get an insight into this exciting and uniquely directed new label by speaking to the artists involved in their first VA record.
Can you tell us a little about your background in music?
Shantam: Im a self taught musician. I play keys and have been producing electronic music for over a decade now. Its all curiosity and stubbornness really.
Himay: I do not come from a very musical background. I tried learning how to play the Guitar during school but gave up after a few months. Early on, I listened to stuff like The Beatles, RHCP, Pink Floyd. Electronic music was stuff more chill like Orbital, Air, 808 State and stuff like that.
Pulpy: I started as a singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar. I released my first album - Sad Little Shoebox - 10 years ago as Kozmi Cow. Then I had a band - a freak funk quartet - called Run Pussy Run. With sassy lyrics, crazy harmonic drifting, and space for improv, we performed a bunch of our tunes for a TV Show called MusicMojo on Kappa TV, and eventually collaborated on a hybrid video with Pune-based LMB Films for a psychological thriller called Roaches. Since, I dropped my first self-produced hip hop tune called Kaadal Mannan, and then released an experimental ep called Slough a few years ago. These opened me up to the world of residencies - Border Movement Residency in Berlin 2019, At Home Residency by Miller Zillmer in 2020, and OneBeat Residency last year. I am here now, starting our little label OCL Records, and our tiny creative house Orbs Cure Labs, with dreams of many dreamy possibilities. I want this to convert into a physical space with resources for experimentation, workshops, education - I want to see young girls and boys from our small towns and villages express via the medium of music, and find sustenance and livelihood. I want the scene to become inclusive, free, liberal, accepting.
Where are you from? do you feel that has a big impact on your sound?
Pulpy: I was born in Trivandrum, Kerala, all the way in the south of India. I spent a few years of my childhood in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, also down south. Grew up in Delhi, north of India, and since I've been around Bangalore, Goa, Mumbai and Pune. My folks live in Pune, Maharashtra. I am a product of all these places and experiences. I was a journalist for 7 years. I grew up to the sounds of old Hindi film songs and Carnatic music, never picked up on any of them. When I was 15, I discovered rock n roll and guitar classes. That was the start of my journey into the world of music and sounds.
Himay: I have spent almost all my life in Mumbai, India. I feel like it has definitely had an impact on my sound.
Shantam: Born in delhi, I studied in a hostel. Where I'm from in a larger sense does define my sensibilities and aesthetic choices. Being Indian has naturally affected my creative choices I make as an artist, and have always aspired to develop my own abstract sonic vocabulary based on the vernacular.
What artists and genres do you enjoy most right now? How would you describe the music you make?
Shantam: I listen to varied styles of music from classical piano to hyper pop. I don't stick to any one particular style of music and am constantly experimenting. I wouldn't.
Himay: No particular genres but lots of it is dance music, and music I could play at a gig. Artists I’ve been listening to currently, Adam Pits, Auntie Flo, Moving Still, Alex Kassian to name a few. Also, Jon Hopkins albums are always on repeat. They are such a journey, I enjoy listening to them from start to finish.
Pulpy: Rene Wise, Emperor Machine - I am obsessed with both of them in electronic music at the moment. I also love the music of Nigel Perera who is on the album - and the label he runs Jambutek Recordings from Sri Lanka. I listen to everything though, jazz, funk, pop. There's a duo called Ranj X Clifr from Bangalore who make insane RnB Pop. There's Gauley Bhai - a band from Nepal. My friends have a band called Many Roots Ensemble, who are absolutely divine. My own music is a work in progress. At the moment, I'm inspired by the certainty of electro, the floatiness of psychedelic music, the space in minimal techno, it all adds up somehow subconsciously.
How do you produce music? How did you make your track on Swarm Intel Vol 1?
Pulpy: I'm still figuring out my process, but on this one - Rigor Tortoise - it started as smorgasbord of sounds. I was learning to create sounds that don't clash with one another in terms of frequencies. I wanted it to be slow, gradual in how it unfolds. I built an overall structure, and then worked on layers. I felt a certain emotion - one of urgency, and determination at the same time and I let that guide me.
Himay: My music production workflow is usually Ableton syncing and recording all my external gear. I have a drum machine, the TR-8 and I have the Korg Volca Keys, Mutable Instruments Shruthi and the Roland TB-3. I sequence the synths with a Keystep. A Night in Chapora was recorded using classic roland 303, 808 and 909 sounds from the TR-8 and TB-3. The lead comes from the Korg Volca Keys sequenced on Ableton. I have also used a DX7 VST for the percussive synth.
Shantam: I produce music on Ableton 11 now along with some bits and bobs of gear that I own. For that particular track I had access to an OP1 which features heavily on the track and multiple recordings of a Moog mother 32 as well.
Has your sound changed a lot in recent years? Do you stick to one sound or change it to keep things fresh?
Shantam: Yes absolutely. My sounds though retaining a certain identifiable quality has gone thru many changes and iterations of style and genre. I keep trying new things and cannot stick to any one particular genre or mood specifically.
Himay: I would not say my sound has changed but it has evolved. While DJing, I like to stay within certain boundaries but keep refreshing things within that so people still know what mood or vibe to expect.
When I produce music, it is more of a self expression so it is all over the place :).
Pulpy: It keeps changing with every tune now. I don't do it to keep it fresh necessarily, but because I'm learning, and with every creative experience, I understand something better, and lose a former hack I relied on.
Do you think the modern scene is more open to experimental records, or less? any why?
Pulpy: Yes and no. There is so much information, someone or the other is experimenting to express better. Have platforms opened up to embrace these experimentations? In a museum or academic sense - yes - but it's yet to find a place in the commercial music eco-system around me.
Himay: I feel like the experimental scene is still a niche. But I feel like in India, most people prefer the bangers.
Shantam: I think the idea of experimental music is exciting and sounds inviting, but in actuality the scene isn't ready or willing to allow it. The realm of 'experimental' in the music scene is still safely padded with the tried and tested.
Can you tell us what's next for you?
Shantam: Im working on my next EP which will also feature short animations that I am currently working on.
Himay: After this release, I have another two releases scheduled. Another Side of Me, a two song EP, self released on 400303 Records out on 3rd June, and another single for a Compilation releasing in the last week of May.
Pulpy: Setting up Orbs Cure Labs as a creative house, and the label OCL Records has been quite the task. From knowing nothing about the industry, to learning bits by bits to see things through, Ryan Kardam (co-founder/producer CudaWuda) and I have been fully invested in this activity. My next few years will be focused on building these platforms so they become sustainable, rewarding and inspiring for the community around me.
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Sales / Pre-sales Link: https://linktr.ee/oclrecords