(Dave Sharmaji, Maneesh, Kush Arora, Jimmy Love)

Recently NSB's Jimmy Love caught up with busy boss
Kush Arora
for a quick interview about his music,
and his thoughts on
Bhangra and Asian music in the US...

Thanks for taking the time to do this! We have known each other for
some years now, and it has been wicked knowing you and watching
you turn into one of the bay areas most exciting underground
producers on the rise. Though you use elements of Bhangra in
your tracks, you have been pushing Bhangra and Dub to new and
exciting levels. Where is it that you want to take this sound,
and what has been pivotal to you for inspiration in creating
your unique blend of the two worlds?

Thanks for your kind words, it means alot coming from an exciting
DJ like yourself! First off, inspiration wise I grew up hearing Hindi
and Bhangra music on and off at home and in India or family functions.
So it is in my blood as an influence, but I wasn't big on the
sounds actually till I was a teenager, I kind of came to them in
a funky reverse way later on in my musicianship. I had been playing
drums since junior high and piano most of my life, doing punk rock,
industrial and experimental music, electronica and slowly grew into
Dancehall and dub quite heavily while in high school, started
producing beats as well. I was listening to artists like The Rootsman,
Muzlimgauze, and soon thereafter Bally Sagoo who were doing either
very Dancehall Reggae or Industrial music - but with cultural sounds
from each of their respected genres, Middle Eastern or Indian
drum sounds, Bally Sagoo was doing straight up Bhangra dub 15
years ago very literally. This shit shattered my worlds, and I would
occasionally hear dub plates or while in India or Punjabi functions,
that were bhangra reggae 2 step things, or just bashment type
music and it really had a big influence on me. But again, i really
didn't feel like just imitating it, i felt like there was a very
large amount of room left for experimentation with punjabi music
outside of hip hop and reggae , especially since so much of it is
commercial. It kind of blended naturally into my music and has come
to be more literal of a combination than it was a few years ago,
where i was making it much more abstract and out there sounds,
now I have felt like i can filter that into more conventional
but still super charged underground vibe type versions of Bhangra
and dub. As of recently however I have been doing much less of
it and trying to bury it in different forms of songs and styles,
so who knows what may be next other than more instrumental music -
and less vocal stuff for a bit.

It has been fun watching you grow in the bay area as an artist,
and seeing your production skills sky rocket in what seems like
a blink of an eye. What would your advise be to new producers
trying to learn how to make cutting edge music for both the end
track as well as being able to translate the track in a live

Well. I think i still have quite a bit of work to do in production
to be honest, it's a never ending battle and once you've gotten
one thing figured out, say, how to make the bass fatter or the
vocals less hissy, you've found 5 more things that now sound like
shit because you've improved something else in the mix! It is a
never ending battle of scales, time, patience most importantly,
and how much you are willing to do on your own production.
My advice is learn as much as you can yourself, definately don't
read crappy audio mix magazines and regurgitate all their
compression and settings on the plug in methods: just lock yourself
in a room, get down,experiment a lot and really try and hear your
music in a lot of places, not your room and studio only.

The success of a good producer is them honing their own original
style in a variety of formats, because originality is the key -
people and producer wannabes totally forget that alot. They're
constantly chasing production trends and sounds and shit from
other people, but they forget that, if they wanted people to do
the same to their music, the need to make something that is at
least SLIGHTLY distinct. Keep your head straight and don't get
sucked up in "industry" stuff, really just hang out with your
friends who you love and make good music, most important thing.
To translate your music into a live setting: lots of artists
like using Abelton live, i myself have used that and i usually use
Cubase and do dubbing. It's tough translating electronic music into
a live setting, without it being something kind of minimal
and basic like Techno.

You have to be very organized, and prepared for your stuff to
sound like shit in a bottle the first time you start hearing
it at clubs. After a few years of doing that, you'll pick up
on alot of do's and don'ts for club settings, and you'll learn
where in your show, people start enjoying themselves, or not
enjoying themselves. When you play live you have to keep in
mind the folks at hand, and learn to be flexible with that as
much as possible, it's very tough to do without doing generic
shit like looping jungle loops and twizzly synth sounds!

Be prepared for a challenge!

What would you say about the rise of the US Bhangra and
Asian scene, do we have something to offer that is not already
been done in the UK?

I think most incarnations of desi music have been done in the UK
already, but the vibe is really different quite a bit of the time,
I have to say. Here in the US i see a different flavor coming from
producers like Sub Swara, Dave Sharma, myself, which is a bit more
electronic at times and less hip hop/ or R&B influenced vibe.
I also see alot of artists doing more experimental and less teen
oriented desi music in the US, so i think truly there is alot of
difference in the offerings that the US has. More underground,
less commercial by numbers. There still are lots of and lots of
amazing underground producers in uk like Sukh Knight,
The Specialist, and Geiom of course.

We know you are still playing out in support of your recent
album which is killer, but what is next for Kush Arora?

A bunch of things coming up my friends: Finishing up tunes
with Dave Sharma and Dhruva from Sub Swara NYC, serious Desi
dubstep madness. Just cut a tune with Bongo Chilli in the UK
who has sung on stuff by The Bug, Rootsman, Rogue State, sort
of industrial metal dread bass type of thing. Working with
Reggae/Reggaeton vocalist Santero on some jatt Hip Hop Riddims
for his project. New Riddim with Vocalist Zulu which is total
Bhanga, Ragga, bizness, Dance Hall minimalism. Finishing 2
unreleased tracks from N4SA, "New Commers" and "No Response",
which are very thematic and dark bashment numbers.

I definitely am going in a more experimental direction lately,
I have started a new project with band mate KOSSAK from
RecordLabelRecords, called The Placebo Brothers which is very
intricate sound design based instrumental music, very different
from what "Brooklyn to SF" has to offer, much more for the head
and pretty melancholic music overall. Also I've been in the lab
constructing a new live setup in which i will be making and
tweaking beats live and switch from my old dub setup, into a
totally new, more fun wild dance floor type of thing
(since after all we're playing at dance clubs in sf these days!).

Keep posted here and see what Kush is up to in the near future..
I know he is working on a new live set as well, which he may
feature at an upcoming NSB event!

No comments: