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Ox7gen: ‘It’s Daunting To Be a Trial-And-Error Producer’

Aditya Ashok talks about his latest EP, ‘Recess’ and the pros and pitfalls of being a self-taught electronic music maker

Nirmika Singh Sep 30, 2015
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low OX7GEN Portrait 1 - Photo credit - Jishnu Guha

 

Aditya Ashok has been straddling the fence between electronic music and ‘live’ music for quite some time now. And it doesn’t matter which side you’re on, as long as you’ve been following the independent music scene, chances are that you would’ve witnessed him in any of his three avatars – as the drum ‘n’ bass producer Ox7gen or the drummer with alt-pop band The Colour Compound, metal outfit Goddess Gagged, electro-pop act Sha’air + Func and more recently, Skyharbor. In between all these bands, he also performs as a session drummer with Nikhil D’Souza and Mike McCleary’s bands. “I have no complaints at all,” says Ashok about his packed schedule and commitments with various acts.

Ashok’s rise to his current multi-faceted identity has been a steady one. While still in college, he used to play with Mumbai-based grunge band, Rosemary. After his graduation in 2010, and “during a period of employment,” he joined Ravi Iyer’s band Para Vayu [formerly Vayu]. “It was a great way to get a footing in the scene. Slowly, things just fell into place by themselves. Sha’ir + Func also happened around that time,” says Ashok, who started working on his solo electronica project Ox7gen in 2011. In the four years since, he has released five EPs, each crystallizing his musical cred as both a party-starter and a road trip buddy. In this interview, he opens up about breaking the mould of standard drum & bass music on his album, the need for being ‘edgy’ and his new live act featuring guitarist Bradley Tellis.

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With five EPs to your name now, is an album in the offing soon?

I’ve always wanted to do a full-length album, but felt I wasn’t there yet since I’m a self-taught producer. Right now, I think I could give it a shot. A lot of ideas have been piling up since last year and I want to focus on them.

A lot of producers today are self-taught, but do you feel it has its own pitfalls too?

Honestly, it is erm…daunting to be a trial-and-error producer. If I had all the technical knowhow when I started out, maybe I could’ve been better. But I have come across many successful producers who are self-taught; they are all picking things up themselves and learning. I have faith in my abilities. However, the biggest disadvantage that I have as a producer is that I am not formally trained in any melody instrument. So that’s why, in my tracks, chords and scales aren’t placed very well. But I am following a very organic way of figuring out things.

Your music plays a lot with pauses and silences. How important is it for you to punctuate your music with these elements?

Like they say, a lot of times, what matters in music is not the notes that you play but the ones that you don’t. The pauses and silences I have used come when you break the beat and refrain from sonic assaults. There’s a certain way drum ‘n’ bass music is produced – intro, drop, second drop etc. It is not a formula but a standard way in which this kind of music is made. I have been trying to break that mould. I want to try and break away from that structure.

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What is the key to breaking on to the electronic music circuit and making your mark?

See, the playing field is leveled now. Everyone has the ability to write, produce and put out music. To grab people’s attention, you’ve got to be edgy, of course, in a more organic way, because the experimenting process yields unpredictable results. Also, the level playing field helps you push harder.

Bradley Tellis is joining you for your live act. Tell us more about it.

Bradley has brought a wash of new sound to the set-up, with delays and reverb and stuff. I’ve not really used guitar much on the EP, but he’s going to be joining me on stage and I am looking forward to that.

Have you ever been caught in a dilemma of keeping your sound consistent but also wanting to reinvent yourself?

The thing is that I can never move away from the Ox7gen sound. I might experiment with new song structure and all, but there’s a sound that I have that I have stuck with. On Recess, I have done just that; I’ve gone crazy with my stuff but also maintained the Ox7gen sound.

 

Ox7gen performs at Blue Frog, Mumbai on October 1.

 

Listen to Recess below.

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