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Interview: Aman Anand

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Spending his time between India and Singapore, Aman’s productions blur the line between electronica, progressive house and deep techno, blending these different sounds together in a unique way that is his. His tracks have seen support from celebrated artists such as Hernan Cattaneo, Guy J, Secret Cinema and more. The self-taught mechanics of dance music for this young musician has started to translate itself into releases on reputable international imprints such as Sudbeat, Balkan Connection, Juicebox Music and Mango Alley. Aman has been billed in clubs such as Headquarters, Tuff Club, Kilo Lounge, KRATE. in Singapore, and Humming Tree, Pebbles, blueFROG in Bangalore, India. This week sees Aman returning to India’s premiere progressive house imprint, Praveen Achary’s Juicebox Music. In celebration of the label’s 50th release, Aman has joined forces with label boss Praveen for the duo’s first ever joint production ‘Fiasco’. We had a chance to catch with Aman for an exclusive chat just prior to the release. Enjoy!

Hi Aman, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

– Hey Mitch! Thank you for having me. It’s a huge honour to be invited to Progressive Astronaut. At the moment, I am pretty relaxed. Woke up early and I have a pretty normal day ahead. The last piece of music I listened to was ‘Tame Impala – Borderline’.

What are your plans for the coming week?

– I am currently pursuing an MBA Course for one year that is on the verge of getting hectic so the main focus would be to study, work on assignments and continue finishing up some music projects. I have most recently discovered that Singapore is loaded with nature parks and trails so definitely going to check another one out this week.

Can you name five tracks that were important in your musical development and why they are so significant for you?

  • BT – Rose of Jericho (Adam K & Soha Remix)
  • Secret Cinema – Timeless Altitude (Secret Cinema’s 2011 Mix)
  • Deadmau5 – Faxing Berlin (Original Mix)
  • 16BL – Personal Space (Guy J Remix)
  • G Club presents Banda Sonora – Guitarra G (Funkagenda Redux)

There’s a lot more tracks I could have mentioned here but these tracks definitely inspired me differently and a few of these tracks also got me through some difficult times.

You were born in India as far as I know but have moved back and forth from Singapore to India a few times, tell us about that and where are you currently living now?

– Yes, I was born in Bangalore, India but I’ve been visiting Singapore from the age of 4 as my father relocated there and I used to visit him during my summer vacations. That continued till 2010 and then I moved to Singapore permanently and have been here since

How did relocating to Singapore initially affect your production sound and musical direction?

– I actually started producing music after moving to Singapore. Prior to this, I was only collecting tracks and discovering new genres. The move to Singapore educated me about underground electronic music and in 2011, I subscribed to Sonic Academy, went through a couple of tutorials to figure out the basics of Ableton, shared a few of those tracks with some friends to receive feedback and eventually started learning techniques on my own.

India’s party scene is world renowned at this point, what are some of your favourite places to play there and what makes the scene so lively and enthusiastic?

– To be honest, I have played very few parties in India but the ones that are memorable for me are the opening sets for Juicebox Music label boss Praveen Achary at Humming Tree & blueFROG in Bangalore and I also got a chance to play at Fields of Love Festival in Hyderabad. I have not lived in India for ten years but every time I go back there I have seen a rapid evolution in the scene all around. From my understanding, there’s a thriving community of really passionate artists who are constantly pushing boundaries and making a huge impact globally.

Mixmag Asia named you as part of their ‘5 Emerging House Producers in Singapore to Discover’ article. Tell us about the scene there, do you get a chance to DJ there very often and what are some of the venues supporting underground dance music?

– Was very honoured to be included in the Mixmag Asia article written by Kevin Ho (Founder of Life in Arpeggio) who is supremely well informed about the music scene in Singapore and really puts his all in keeping the scene alive by bringing to light all forms of music the island has to offer,  along with current issues the country is facing due to the pandemic. I find that the scene here is way more intimate as it’s a pretty tiny country and you get to see regular faces every weekend which makes the scene way more comfortable to be in. Before the pandemic, I was a resident DJ at The Council’s Tuff Club for almost two years. Singapore also has a lot of pop up parties that happen in warehouses and hotels which is pretty cool and some venues that push underground music here are Headquarters, Tuff Club, KRATE. And Kilo Lounge.

 How would you compare it to the Indian scene, where do the differences lie?

– Honestly, it’s an unfair comparison purely based on the size of the two countries and how they both operate. The common factor, though, is the hustle. I think that’s common everywhere but I have seen drive and hunger take artists to incredible heights in both countries.

 What’s your favourite set-time to play, and why?

– In Tuff Club, I got many opportunities to play opening sets as well as closing sets. The opening sets were enjoyable for me as it allowed me to study and build the night for the next DJ. Of course, this was a learning experience as I would not always get it right. However, my favourite set-time would be 2 AM onwards as Tuff Club would start getting packed, everyone was ready to dance and the energy was on point. Those nights always turned out to be both memorable and hazy at the same time.

 Who are some up and coming artists from Singapore to look out for?

– I am lucky to be surrounded by some really passionate artists in Singapore and it’s amazing because there’s a few of us helping each other grow. Some of the artists who are constantly evolving are Sivanesh, Erwin Linden, Sanzy, Satish K, James Selva & definitely keep a lookout for the music duo – Michael McGurn & Dita Jacob aka ‘The Inish Experiment’. RPDM & Andre Marc are two upcoming DJs that have been putting out some great mixes online. Samiksha Nair, who is also an upcoming DJ, runs a very cool podcast series called ‘Raaz Records’ that showcases a wide range of local talent.

 You’ve always had a darker sound I would say. What is it that inspires you to create such heady designs?

– Artists like Guy J, Dmitry Molosh & Kasper Koman have been huge influences in shifting my sound to a more darker space. As a listener, when I go to clubs, I hear a lot of different shades of techno especially Industrial Techno as it’s widely popular here and I believe that has influenced me a lot as well.

Where do you find yourself most motivated to produce music: alone or with others, at home or on the move? If you feel equally inclined in both scenarios, what different results arise from each?

– Off late, I have been collaborating with a lot of different artists and it’s been an enjoyable process because we get to share production techniques, ideas and sounds. It’s also fun to work with artists who produce slightly different styles. Producing original music alone has been a bit of a challenge in the last few months but I am pushing myself to complete unfinished projects and I’m definitely liking the momentum being created by working on collaborations. I like to produce at home at night because that’s the best time for me and I find that I’m more creative then too.

You have a new release out this week where you’ve collaborated with Praveen Achary for the 50th release on his Juicebox Music imprint. The track is entitled ‘Fiasco’, tell us about how that came to be and how you guys approached the production process.

– I am very happy, to say the least, with the end result of ‘Fiasco’. Just before the pandemic, I had sent Praveen my full version of ‘Fiasco’ and he liked the main idea of the track and asked if he could polish it up. I was honoured that he wanted to collaborate with me. Within a matter of few weeks, he had laid down a more edgy groove on the wonky synth and it was sounding great. We decided to give it a few months before we put it out and during this time, Praveen got to test it out at various gigs and I played it in a few livestreams. Finally, we are able to share the track and hope listeners like it.

 What does your set-up look like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of ‘Fiasco’?

– My set-up is very simple. I have a Novation Launchkey 25 Midi Keyboard and I produce music inside the box on Ableton. Earlier, I used to wonder if my set-up being so simple was limiting my creativity but over time I realised it’s all I need to produce music at this point. I have been spending time learning more of the stock plugins that Ableton has to offer especially Wavetable which is such a power packed synth and I also enjoy creating sounds on VSTs like u-He Diva, GForce Oddity 2, SonicCharge Synplant and AAS Chromaphone 2. I would love to explore physical gear in the future but for now I’m happy working digitally. For ‘Fiasco’, the wonky synth was created on GForce Oddity 2 and I processed it using 2 FX plugins – SonicCharge Echobode & Valhalla Delay. The rest of the track was constructed using samples predominantly.

 It’s a single-track release and rightfully so but are there any potential remixes on the horizon? And how would you feel about it being remixed?

– Praveen and I have discussed potential remixes for ‘Fiasco’ in the future and I definitely like the idea of it.

 Generally speaking, do you find it more difficult to come up with original tracks than remixing a track from another artist?

– Generally speaking, I find remixing other artists a way more fluid process. Because, I have samples and ideas to work with from the get-go. I tend to get carried away at times and funnily enough, come up with original ideas using the remix parts. But, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been pushing myself to create more original music and I hope that becomes as fluid a process as remixing.

 What has the last year and a half been like for you? Have you focused more time on making music? And has the pandemic affected your creative spirit in any way?

– It’s been challenging especially because DJing was my only source of income but I’ve taken this time to do a new course as mentioned earlier. I have to say, the residency at Tuff Club was going well as it had created new opportunities for me to play in other clubs as well but the pandemic changed all that drastically. Since then, the nightlife industry in Singapore has been shut but all the artists here are hopeful that things will turn around eventually as other parts of the world are opening up. I feel that writing music during this time was a far more peaceful process but staying motivated was hard. However, a few friends in Singapore caught the production bug and that was interesting for me as I could meet up with them (when it was safe to meet people) and share what I’ve learnt.

 What is the current state of the pandemic in Singapore?

– Singapore announced going back to Phase 2 from 22 July to 18 August because of a new cluster and this has been going on for the past couple of months but I hope that people take care and stay safe as we are still not out of the woods yet. There is a complete ban on music in all F&B outlets which has made dining out a pretty strange experience too. On a positive note, a huge chunk of the population has been vaccinated and we artists are collectively hoping for a silver lining in the near future.

 Would you prefer to travel on a long trip (several weeks) or a weekend getaway and why?

– I like long trips for 1-2 weeks because they are more relaxed and allow for more exploring and sightseeing.

 In your opinion, what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and what made you do it?

– I think the biggest risk I took was wanting to produce electronic music as convincing my family I want to do this full time was challenging but at the same time, I am really grateful they have supported me after seeing a few releases do well.

 Who would you like to be abducted by aliens?

– I really believe the aliens don’t want to have anything to do with us.

 Current five favourite tracks?

  • Cheric – Ramen Break
  • Guy J – Into The Void
  • Sudhaus – Vapor (Dowden Remix)
  • Weekend Heroes – Late Bloomers
  • Jiminy Hop – Desire

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Spending time with family, having conversations with close friends and cycling.

What is your favourite food?

Anything Indo-Chinese.

Iphone or Android?

Iphone.

What does the remainder of 2021 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

I hope to play a few gigs at some point when things start opening up. Apart from that, I have a few very special collaborations that I’m excited to share with you all.

‘Fiasco’ is available now via Juicebox Music: https://bit.ly/3AWha7u

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