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Aroma (IND) [Interview]

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ARÕMA is an artistic project focused on blending organic essence with the modern day electronic sound. His sound emanates from nature and captures the beauty of the earthly cultures and diversity. Inviting you on an expedition to explore your emotional and wild, dreamy thoughts.

Continuing what has been a great year, this week finds Aroma making his debut on Brazil's For Senses Records with 'Kalimba'. Progressive Astronaut caught up with Aroma to learn more about the release of 'Kalimba', his background, DJing, and more. Enjoy.

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

Hi Progressive Astronaut, thank you for having me on board. Currently I am feeling very content and happy in life plus the annual Diwali festival season is in full swing here in New Delhi, India so it feels kind of exciting. I am looking forward to some great fun and enjoyment. The last piece of music I listened to was ‘Easy’ By 3lau featuring Xira.

How has your year been so far and what are your plans for the week?

My year has been really great and full of some positive changes in my life. I married my childhood best friend in January 2023 and we have been very busy travelling and enjoying life since. There are a lot of Indian rituals that have to be done in the first year of marriage so it has been quite an interesting yet nervous change. We are trying to figure life and adjust but it is actually a great feeling to share the space with someone you love, makes you feel blessed and stronger as a unit. I am grateful for the same. Like I said Diwali is around the corner so my plans for the week include a lot of parties and fun filled chilling plans with friends and family, so looking forward to it. Along with that, some studio sessions are also lined up which is very exciting as well.

Do you consider yourself a DJ or producer first? And which do you enjoy more and why?

Producer any day. I feel like Dj’ing is a part of the skillset of being an EDM music producer since it is a great way of showcasing what we create in the studio. I definitely enjoy writing my own music since I want to bring originality to my craft and music production as a skill really helps me keep sane in tough times. It is great way of expression and it helps me heal. I want to help my listeners feel deep emotions and do some self introspection which can be a great way for leading a happy and content life. I think music is the greatest gift mankind has created for mankind itself. Being able to do what I love is nothing more than a blessing and I cherish it with all my heart.

Your bio states your sound emanates from nature and captures the beauty of the earthly cultures so is nature one of your primary inspirations when working on new music and what other factors can affect your inspiration?

Good question, so nature is definitely the primary inspiration for my music but then it also depends a lot on my mood and state of mind. I try to express certain emotions through my sound and it is very important to be in the right frame of mind to create and write a track. Inspiration also comes from various other factors like my surroundings, travelling, deep inner introspection and definitely from other artists as well. Art is constantly evolving and there is always something new in the market so it is very important to stay updated and be open minded.

Although you are known for being an organic producer, your sound is a bit more broad than that, how would you describe the music you make?

I feel the music I make is very eclectic. I try to be very open minded when in the studio. I am always exploring various different styles and genres. It is important to try new styles to maintain the excitement and to stay in sync with the constantly changing trends of the industry. Sometimes I am going for a very specific kind of sound which is mostly inclined towards organic or ethnic but at the same time I’m also trying to get my hands on producing some commercial sounds which include mainstream electronic music like techno , melodic house and sometimes even afro house. It usually depends on my inspiration for a particular project I’m working on. In short, I like to make music that I love and enjoy listening to and that is quite a wide spectrum of sounds.

Electronic music in India is growing rapidly, tell us what it was like growing up there and who were some of your local heroes? Who did you look up to and why?

Growing up in India has been quite an interesting journey, I don’t think I can pen that down in words. Will take up multiple interviews for me to answer that part, haha. I love that I come from a land of various cultures and I am proud to be an Indian. Although, it has not been easy as a music producer. The music culture here has always been very different as compared to Europe, U.S.A and foreign countries. It has been a wild ride trying to establish my name in the music industry here but I am glad that the music tastes are now changing rapidly and there is more room for newer artists, different genres other than the conventional Indian Bollywood music.

I started listening to electronic music way back in 2012 when it was slowly being introduced in India. It was the time when EDM was a very fresh sound and there were a very few Indian artists in the scene. Some of the names that I looked up to were Anish Sood (better known as Anyasa now), Nikhil Chinapa, Lost Stories, Blot, Arjun Vaghale and a few more. I really liked how these local Indian talents were playing big festival stages and there sound was candy to the ears. They were creating a fresh wave of new tunes and that is what really drew me to their craft. My initial inspiration came from them and through the years I have discovered many more talented musicians in my country.

If you were a tour-guide for nightlife in India what would be the clubs you’d take the people to see and what local DJs do they need to hear?

The Indian EDM music culture is expanding expeditiously and a lot of new venues which host some big names are opening almost every month.
My top 10 club choices on the itinerary would be as follows:

1. Soho - New Delhi
2. Diablo - New Delhi
3. Summer House - New Delhi
4. Auro - New Delhi
5. Breeze Monkey - Hyderabad
6. Anti Social - Mumbai
8. Famous Studios - Mumbai
7. Sunburn Union - Bengaluru
8. Raeeth - Goa
9. House of Chapora - Goa
10. Club Orilla - Pune

India is home to a lot of talented Dj’s and everyone has their own unique style and skill. Some of the names I’d want people to know are Anyasa, Weird Sounding Dude, Shrii, Parallel Voices, Blot, Almost Human, AXL Stace.

If you are not DJing or socializing at clubs, where do we find you? And doing what?

Well I also have another business which I am running and that is a different industry all together. At times when I’m not producing music at my studio, I am at my other office. If not DJing or Socialising at clubs in the evening after work, I like to meet up with my friends or just spend quality time at home with my better half and family. Sometimes I go out for a run to keep myself fit but that is not a regular routine for me. As I am writing this, I feel the need to start doing more of this fitness regime as well.

You have a new EP ‘Kalimba’ out this week on For Senses Music, tell us about the release and how it showcases your current sound.

Well the ‘Kalimba EP’ consists of 3 songs.

The first track ‘Alba’ is about bright, fresh mornings and a beautiful sunrise . It is a blend of organic, electronic elements like synths, arpeggios and beautiful atmospheric sounds. This idea started with a main piano melody that you will hear in the beginning and through the course in parts. It was an impromptu sketch during one of my recording sessions and the entire structure of the track was arranged post that. Additionally you will also hear deep orchestral strings through the track which I composed to add depth and feel to the entire arrangement. A top line, haunting vocal line was used to add emotion to the song and I feel it is one of the most important element of this track.

The second track ‘Glaciers’ is a more progressive and uplifting piece. As the name states this track captures the feel of the beautiful and stunning tundra regions. The marvellous glaciers spread over the entire area were my inspiration for this one. This track is an amalgamation of organic sounds from the handpan with more advanced electronic sounds like analog synths, arpeggios & plucks. It focuses on a journey through the power of sound and aims at taking the listener on a ride through the mystical winter wonderland.

The title track ‘Kalimba’ is more of a conventional organica/electronic track. I used the Kalimba, an African plucky instrument to do the main section of the track and blend it with an uplifting lead, arp sound to add flow and movement to it. This track captures the feel of the African safari and the stunning wildlife one can spot at this exotic region. Very similar to the concept of glaciers, this track also focuses on taking the listener on an audio safari through the African bush.

In short the entire EP is inspired by the beautiful nature & landscapes spread across Earth. It aims at supercharging and heightening the listeners ‘senses’ and is a perfect blend of my usual organic sound with my current progressive style sound. I really hope the listeners enjoy these creations and are able to connect with the emotion and depth I have tried to depict through the 3 tracker EP.

Let our readers inside your studio for a moment, what is your current setup and what studio tools are featured heavily in your recent productions and more specifically your ‘Kalimba’ EP?

I have my own home studio in E block Greater Kailash-3, New Delhi, India. I hired a contractor who basically applied some acoustic treatment on my old room and used tons of rockwool, glasswool, gypsum board and insulated fabrics to do the soundproofing for the walls and the ceiling. For the floor we used a simple wooden flooring treatment. I divided the room into to halves and got a separate section for the vocal recording to make the vocals sound more compact and to eliminate noise.

As of now, I have a minimal setup in terms of the equipment. I am using a pair of KRK Rocket 8 G-3 studio monitors, a PC monitor screen, a novation launch key Midi Controller, a Behringer crave Analog Semi-Modular Synthesizer for some melodic and step sequencing magic & a Behringer TD-3 Bass Line synthesizer with true analog circuitry for bass and groove sounds.

I also have some musical instruments including a Aria Pro II 714 Standard Electric Guitar, 2 Hang drums, a flute and a Yamaha Keyboard PSR-E403. You will hear sounds from these analog gear and instruments in a lot of my productions, specially my ‘Kalimba EP’.

You’ve compiled an impressive resume since your first release in 2020 but this is your first release on For Senses, what was it about the label that made it a good home for your music?

Thank you for the kind words of appreciation. I came across ‘For Senses’ last year in July when Gorkiz got in touch with me via Instagram DM for a possible remix on his label. I really liked the name of the label but unfortunately the remix did not materialise at that time. After a few months while listening to new music, I came across some new releases on this same label and I really loved the sound and aesthetic sense of the label. I felt my organic sounds could be a great addition to their catalogue as my vision was very similar to Gorkiz’s vision of the label. Basically to spread peace, love through the sound while also focusing on quality music that elevated humans senses.

I got in touch with him via Instagram again, we started chatting and connecting over our love for the same kind of sound and our artistic tastes as music producers. I had finished writing some fresh tracks at that time and Glaciers was one of the tracks I sent him as a demo for his feedback. He enjoyed listening to it and was interested in signing it. That is how the idea of an EP was born. His feedback was very motivating and his kind words made it easy for me to finish the other two tracks. Everything fell into place and it has been a smooth ride thereafter. I am very grateful to him and the entire team at For Senses for the faith in my sound and for having me as a part of this amazing collective. I am glad this EP found it’s home at this fresh and wonderful Brazilian label.

What is the task you enjoy the most when producing and what would you prefer someone else to do?

I really enjoy the whole creative process of writing a new track which starts as a raw idea and finds its way to a completed piece. Recording sounds, sampling, fiddling around with analog gear to create unique sounding bits, the research behind it & the learning process that comes with it.

The mixing and mastering process that either follows or goes along the way of the entire arrangement is also super fun and technical which I love as a music nerd. I have also learned video creation and graphic designing through my journey of being a music producer as I feel music and visuals go hand in hand. I feel I can sit on my laptop for hours trying to create fresh content be it music or graphics and learning new techniques and softwares without getting bored. It is a different world altogether and really feeds my soul.

The business and management bit I feel can be handled by someone else since that will leave more room for me to focus on my creativity and sharpening my skill, quality of art. I am actually on a lookout for a professional PR, artist manager who can help me take my brand Aroma (IND) to a next level with his/ her skillset and knows the EDM industry well enough to connect me with some great venues for gigs and live events as well.

For people reading this interview - If you are in the EDM management industry, working as a PR manager or an artist manager and are interested in collaborating or you know someone who will be interested please DM me on my IG handle @soundofaroma and I would love to hear from you. Maybe we can strike up a great deal and work together in the foreseeable future. Thank you!

Now let’s talk about DJing for a moment, it’s a unique discipline at the border between presenting great music and creating something new with it, between composition and improvisation to an extent. How would you describe your approach to it?

DJing, I feel is an art form and musical performance that has been an integral part of the music industry for decades. DJs play a crucial role in shaping the music scene and creating memorable experiences for their audiences. At its core, DJing involves selecting and mixing pre-recorded tracks to create a seamless and dynamic flow of music. DJ’ing I feel is also very underrated skill and not many people know what it actually takes to be behind the decks and create a wonderful experience for the listener and event attendees.

As a DJ you have to take care of so many factors. Some of them are

1. Music Selection
2. Beatmatching
3. Mixing
4. Reading the Crowd
5. Showmanship

DJing has evolved significantly over the years, with technological advancements and the emergence of various sub-genres and styles. While vinyl records and turntables were once the standard tools for DJs, digital platforms and software now allow for more flexibility and creativity in mixing and performance.

Beyond the club scene, DJs also play a crucial role in radio broadcasting, producing remixes, and contributing to the music production process. They have become iconic figures in popular culture, influencing fashion, art, and the global music landscape.

In summary, DJing is a multifaceted art form that combines music selection, technical skill, and a deep connection with the audience. DJs have the power to shape the sonic landscapes of our lives, making them central figures in the world of music and entertainment.

In short I feel , this profession really needs to be given more respect in our society specially in Indian music culture since it takes a lot to be an entertainer and showcasing your skill on big stages is not a childs play. Not everyone has the will and patience to do it. Moreover, we should not consider any profession to be small since everything takes effort and there is no bigger gift than the art and skill someone possesses.

How much prep do you put into the tracks you choose to play? Or are your sets totally spontaneous?

Any good set I feel is a perfect blend of pre planning and spontaneous presence of mind. I choose tracks that I connect with deeply while keeping in mind the tastes of the listeners, audience as well. It takes a lot of research and open mindedness before finalising a set. I try to stay in sync with the ongoing trends and preferences in the market so the I can balance it well. I focus on playing fresh tunes but at the same time also include music that is trending and is being liked and shared globally. Social media really helps me stay in touch with the continuously changing tastes.

If I am only showcasing my original music, it definitely takes a lot of pre showcase prep since it has to be perfect. The purpose of the set is to introduce the audience, listeners to fresh sounds they probably wouldn’t have heard before.

The live performance in this case takes a lot of pre showcase practice since the flow needs to be maintained and it is important that the audience feels every bit of the performance in terms of sound and overall experience. There is very less scope for error and the track showcase has to be pre planned. Of course there is always improvisation in terms of live elements and order of music.

I focus on playing an additional musical instrument along with the set or creating live top line synths, beats using analog gear to enhance the performance on the spot.

Can you tell me a bit about how your work as a DJ has influenced your view of music, your way of listening to tracks and perhaps also, your work as a producer?

Working as a DJ has really helped me in widening my music tastes and influenced my preferences. I have come across various new styles and genres and my choice of music has become very eclectic. Moreover, it has really helped me learn the process of mixing in a greater depth and this is one skill that is very important as a music producer. My ears have been trained enough to hear different elements clearly in a track, all thanks to a great use of headphones. I can now pay close attention to the structure of songs, such as the intro, breakdown, drop and outro. This knowledge has influenced how I appreciate and analyse music, helping me identify elements like build-ups and transitions that are crucial in creating engaging and dynamic tracks.I have learnt how to read a crowd and adjust their music selection and mixing techniques accordingly. This real-time feedback has informed my understanding of what makes a track or a genre appealing and it helps me fine-tune my own productions to cater to my target audience. It has also opened new doors for me and helped me establish good contacts which further helps me in collaborating with other musicians, such as vocalists, instrumentalists, or other producers. This collaborative experience is a must to expand horizons and has introduce me to new ideas and approaches to music production. As a DJ I have worked with a variety of equipment and software, including turntables, CDJs, mixers and controllers. The familiarity with these tools has influenced my production techniques and the integration of new technology into my creative process. Overall, DJing as a hobby has provided me valuable insights into the world of music, sharpening my listening skills and deepening my appreciation for the nuances of different tracks and genres. This knowledge and experience has been a powerful asset since I’ve transitioned into music production, and now I can bring my unique perspective and skills to the studio.

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

Lineup could be as follows-

1.Aroma (IND) B2B Shrii: 10pm - 11:30pm 2.Anyasa: 11:30 pm - 1am
3.AXL Stace: 1am - 2am 4.Tale Of Us: 2am - 4am 5.Maceo Plex: 4am - 5am

If you were not a DJ/Producer what do you think you’d be doing with your life?

If I wasn’t in the DJ/Music Production industry I guess I’d be a graphic designer/ visual content creator or maybe work in the tourism industry.

Current top five tracks?

1. Ben Bohmer, Felix Raphael - One Last Call [Ninjatuna]

2. 3Lau Ft. Xira - Easy [Anjunabeats]

3. Le Youth, Lane 8, Jyll - I Will Leave a Light On (Sultan + Shepard Remix) [This Never Happened]

4. Tinlicker Ft. Julia Church - Slipstream [PIAS Electronique]

5. Yotto Ft. Julia Church - No Ending (Nills Hoffman Remix) [Odd One Out]

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

I am not much of a reader to be honest but "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a classic novel that has left a profound impact on me. I read it a couple of years back in high school since it was a part of our curriculum at that time.

Set in the American South during the 1930s, the book deals with themes of racial injustice, morality, and empathy. Through the character of Atticus Finch, the novel explores the idea of standing up for what is right, even in the face of overwhelming prejudice and social norms. Recently someone had shared parts of the novel on social media in forms of quotes and it resonated with me alot better. It highlights the importance of compassion, understanding and the fight against injustice. I would recommend everyone to at least read it once.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Spending time with friends, family, frequent travelling and exploration. Travelling really helps me stay sane in tough times, is a great way for rejuvenation and healing apart from music. It helps me connect with people from various different backgrounds and cultures. It also helps me expand my horizon and contributes to my broader outlook towards this world. Of course, travelling is a also huge inspiration for my music and is a great way to see new places along with different shades of nature.

What does the remainder of 2023 and early 2024 hold for you in terms of releases and gigs? Anything you can share with us?

2023 is almost over so not much for the remainder of it. Maybe some independent releases and edits might drop before year end. Although a lot of new music, collaborations, big things are on the way for next year. 2024 holds some good surprises which you will know about soon.

Thank you so much for having me on board. It was great sharing some insights with you. Sending love and good vibes all the way from India.

'Kalimba' is available for pre-order now via For Senses: https://shorturl.at/yzGPQ

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