The act of creation and expression itself is as fluid as our inner states that artists materialize when they make a track. It's the same intention that resonates with us and sparks an innate curiosity, compelling us to peer behind the curtains and unravel the enigma of its creation. This article is an exploration into the artistic sanctuaries of four homegrown Indian music producers, each offering an intimate glimpse into the genesis of one of their tracks. These producers unveil the layers of inspiration, experimentation, and sheer dedication woven into the fabric of their musical creations, inviting us to appreciate the depth and richness that lie beneath the surface of the tunes we love.
Kalmi - Cowboy Samurai ft. HanuMankind
HG: I love the way Cowboy Samurai is structured. Despite Hanumankind's sick verses, the production never seems to just fade into the background but goes shoulder to shoulder with the rap, especially the Reese-style bass. How do you factor in the compatibility of the production with a track like this where the cold and hard tone is set from the beginning with emotions of power and fierceness?
Kalmi: So the way we made this track was when Sooraj aka Hanumankind had already written it on a couple of beats, which was more freestyle/boombap. So I just had the vocals with me. I started redoing all the energy my own way by distorting drums, basslines, and his voice to give a whole new taste to them. The groove was more about how I naturally gravitated towards the flow of the verse and it all started to align with all the other tracks on the Surface Level EP.
HG: The production also acts as the hook, and towards the end, the track's bridge, which is fascinating. The shift from the Reese-style bass as the verse ends to the sinister King Geedorah-like synth lead feels like the chorus of the track; it's a little lighter in tone and gives a break from the verse while still driving the track forward. Could you shed some light on these micro-decisions behind the track?
Kalmi: I always thought the end should feel like I'm conquering the world. The horn-type synth was initially composed along with a banjo, then we took it off so it doesn't sound too stereotypically like cowboy music. But I always wanted to keep building and building the end so I could land on the open hat and kick, like a movie credit outro.
HG: The beginning of the track Primrose featuring Naisha disarms us with the vulnerable phone call right from the start and sets up an intimate atmosphere. The track, very reminiscent of Zhu's Cocaine Model really captures the softer, more feminine side of dance music. Could you shed some light on how a track like this is built? Was it more collaborative with Naisha being with you as you designed each element or did the production act as a foundation upon which her vocals were decorated?
Nate08: The process of building 'Primrose' was a collaborative journey with Naisha that allowed us to explore and intertwine our creative visions. The decision to kick off with a vulnerable phone call was intentional — it's like opening a door straight into the heart of the music, establishing a connection right from the get-go. As for the production, Naisha's vocals and the instrumental elements working together were very organic. I had a rough skeleton of this track and thought it could do with some female vocals. I played it for her and she was down. And her voice worked beautifully for the tune.
HG: From the atmospheric Rhodes piano and the filters slowly opening up at the beginning of the track like we just entered a room to the use of gated synths along with the organic drums, harmonizations and echo on vocals and the low cut beat feels like a signature finishing track for electronic music sets that leaves you with an aftertaste of euphoria. How do you go about constructing a track like this when you already have the mood in mind?
Nate08: The Rhodes and the opening of the filters at the beginning were setting the scene to create an immersive experience, like stepping into a musical space. Gated synths, live drums, harmonies, and a touch of vocal echo — all played essential roles in shaping the track's sonic landscape. The vibe was our compass all the way. We aimed for a softer, more laid-back side of dance music, trying to break away from the usual stuff. The groove, the harmonies — every move was about making sure the feels stick with you even after the music fades.
Yanchan - Tradition ft. Sandeep Narayan
HG: As a producer, you're known for integrating and sampling Indian sounds with hip-hop. But in your collaboration with Sandeep Narayan for Arul, what made you take a different direction with the track 'Tradition'? Did you envision it as a house track from the beginning or was it something you decided while working on it with Sandeep?
Yanchan: When I first made the beat for 'Tradition', I kept humming the tune for Manavyalakim on top of it and it felt perfect. I grew up listening to a lot of the raagam Nalinakanthi so when I presented this idea to Sandeep, he took my initial vision and took it to a whole other level! I’m always trying to hum older Carnatic songs over my beats, and for 'Tradition', it just so happened that the notes of Manayvalakim fit the bassline and the piano chords.
HG: Could you shed some light on the construction of your basslines that complement Sandeep's vocals so well? Every time his vocals change, we can also hear the difference in the arrangements of the 808s that give the track progression as well as a dynamicity adding different chapters to it. How did you execute that while still keeping the track cohesive altogether?
Yanchan: Honestly, I can’t take full credit for this. My team at Emtee Music Group helped me finalize the tracks and we spent a lot of time fine tuning certain parts of each track so that Sandeep’s voice can shine with my bass lines and my beat. To add, since Sandeep already had the knowledge of listening to different genres of music, it was easy for him to deliver melodies over my beat in a seamless way.
OLD - Elevation
HG: Synthwave has really garnered a cult-like following online with the neon city lights aesthetics and the mainstream validation of the genre through films like 'Drive'. This could be a matter of different subgenres but how do you manage to create a different emotional response in your music that distinguishes itself from the whole 80's night-time long drives into a more contemporary morning-esque, natural, and organic soundscape?
OLD: The way I approach music generally has no genre filters. Ideas come to me like transmission waves to a radio and I just start to chase it until I realise it completely. I don’t have a process but like everyone else my taste has developed towards a certain direction. This helps me pick and choose the best elements from a few related genres and come up with my 'sound'. I adore the driving bass lines and powerful drums that are crucial to Synthwave. From there, my natural inclination towards making 'chill' music takes over. Then, with absolute intention, I combine the elements cohesively to portray a vibe that works equally well in neon-lit city nights and early morning drives in the countryside.
HG: How do you conceptualize Chillwave (a subgenre of Synthwave) tracks? There are key identifiers to the sound of every genre and one can clearly notice two distinctive yet complimentary sounds in Elevation — the plucky square wave and the soft caressing lead. Do these make up the foundation or are they added progressively during the production process?
OLD: Chillwave provides a broad spectrum of vibes to choose from. For Elevation, the plucks were the absolute first thing I recorded and hence they dictated the feel of the song and stay almost entirely throughout. The calm lead sound is characteristic of my music and is an element I have kept coming back to for conveying the main melodic ideas in many of my tracks. It was the last element I recorded. The process is dictated by the initial idea and I like to never tie myself down to a routine.