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Exclusive Stream: Toymob Turns to Analog on Warped New EP ‘Ziggurat’

The electronic producer-vocalist, of Teddy Boy Kill, Donn Bhat + Passenger Revelator and IJA, experiments with metal and tribal songs on his latest solo release

Anurag Tagat Aug 23, 2017

Ashhar Farooqui a.k.a. Toymob. Photo: Neha Dixit

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Whether he’s performing with electronica act Teddy Boy Kill or IJA, whenever you hear Ashhar Farooqui a.k.a. Toymob, there’s something irresistibly dark about his low whisper, pitch-shifted refrains and an overall sparse quality that sounds like the soundtrack to a fucked up party.

On his latest EP Ziggurat, Farooqui–who stays in the village of Kumaon in Uttarakhand and is also vocalist for Mumbai electro-rock act Donn Bhat + Passenger Revelator–says it’s all about “cutting straight to the mood.”

The five-track EP that follows his 2015 solo release Hedon feels like a twisted trip that few other producers can take you on. In an interview with Rolling Stone India, Farooqui talks about the songs and going live.

“I try to pursue a distinct style with each project.” Photo: Neha Dixit

How do you work in terms of mindspace when it comes to Toymob, IJA and now also Passenger Revelator?

My last solo EP, Hedon, was released in December 2015. I released it on CIRCUIT, a label run by my friend Ashish a.k.a. Hashback Hashish. He has been handpicking some very interesting artists for the label and releasing music regularly for the last year and a half. Ziggurat is also out on CIRCUIT. Well in terms of mindspace, Toymob has me producing and writing, IJA has me co-producing and co-writing with Sahil [Mendiratta] whereas with Passenger Revelator, I am mostly on vocal duties and also write occasionally. I try to pursue a distinct style with each project.

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How different is Ziggurat for you in terms of evolving as a producer? What did you do differently this time?

It’s all gone out and far away from the computer and its grid! Samplers, sequencers, drum machine, bass synth and voice were my tools. I played a lot with my sequencer swing and only used the computer for tracking. It was also great to work with Raphael Valensi who homed it on the master. That was a first and very enriching experience.

‘Ziggurat’ is out on CIRCUIT now. Artwork by Ari Jayaprakash

The track “I’m Sorry” has a metal part at the end–how did that come about?

The song is about the heaviness and weight of guilt and its release or redemption in maddening anger. An apology for existing! The metal part was what sounded the most gratifying in terms of allowing that release.

What kind of stuff have you sampled, like on “Name”?

This song moves around a popular bass motif style from Nineties dance and techno music scenes. That’s what might seem familiar. Besides that, the folk-vocal sample is from a field recording I did a few years ago in Meghalaya. It’s an identity song of the ‘War’ tribe, that’s why the track is called “Name.” The reed at the end of it is also from the same region.

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 Does this EP release mean you’re looking to play more gigs as Toymob?

Yes, I got to take it live. I have been working on my set for a while and have had the opportunity to play a few Listening Room sessions. I’m fine-tuning it. Hopefully, I will work out a tour for this release in the coming month.

Listen to ‘Ziggurat’ below:

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