Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Interview with Romay, the Man who Plays with Sound

Romay, the artist who set up his own record label, released an album yesterday called Playing with Sound. I distracted him from his work in the studio to talk about the album, why the UK produces the best dance music and his stash of Bollywood vinyl under the stairs.

Why did you feel the need to start your own record label?

There was no label out there that I thought was ready to take on my kind of music. We had a look around at the other labels a couple of years ago when we releasing Indian stuff. A lot of other people had their own labels as well. Nasha Records were doing their own stuff and releasing on their own label and so were quite a few other artists. We thought the way to go was to start our own label so we have more control over the music that we release.

Do you think Asian musicans and producers risk being marginalised and given an ethnic label particularly when it comes to the elecetronica and dubstep?

Depends what they make I suppose and the direction they take their music in. We do both English and Indian kind of stuff which you can hear on the album itself. We distribute our music through different channels. It doesn’t come out on the Asian market, it comes out on the English market under dance. We don’t really enter the Asian market even though we do use Asian vocals and things like that in our music.
We try to pitch more for a wider audience.

I started off doing English drum and bass. I released 23 singles during my time doing that before I started doing any Asian influenced dub step. Radio1 are playing our stuff quite happily and even the English DJs are playing are stuff as well. We are thinking about reaching wider variety of people rather than using just the grime aspect of dubstep we are trying to use more melodies, so its more accessible for a wider audience.

What future plans do you have for Accoustic Science?

To take on more artists onto the label. To give other artists more exposure and to carry on releasing some really good music. At the moment everyone is really liking what we are doing. There are a couple of dance EPs planned for next year. I’m working with Asian Dub Foundation on their next album, Working with The Truth on his next single. Keeping quite busy for the actual label itself. Nice plans for next year especially on the musical releases. We are looking forward to expanding the label with more artists and getting more music out there for next year

How did you come up with the name “playing with sound” - which has to be one of the most awesome album titles ever!
Thank you very much! I don’t know, it was one of the thoughts I had. I had to explain the album itself in the way of using Indian stuff, English stuff, dubstep, drum and bass and all the different sounds I had  in there. I thought the title really just approved the sound I was trying to push.In our industry you do try and make the tracks a little bit unique so you do start playing with the sound of the bass line and things like that so there is some kind of truth in there.

On “Ek Oh Jayahn” from the album and the single “Hassoure” you used two well known samples from an equally well known sample CD. What made you pick these samples over samples from bollywood films? You said on Nihal’s show you have a load of vintage vinyl underneath your stairs!
Yeh I do! I normally chose what is very melodic to me and I think I can write a song to. I do get sent a lot of vocal and stuff as well and about 90% of it I reject because I’m not really feeling them. It’s just as a individual and as an artist if I hear something really melodic sung to me  or if I hear something off a record and I think that’s really nice. If I can develop any thought behind it musically then I would always see If I can take it forward a little bit.

The whole load of the vinyl that I have, well my Dad’s vinyl, it just gives you a kind of reference about what people used to do back in the old days with the melodies. You don’t really go round sampling that kind of stuff.You can’t really release those samples from old school records.But it’s a good reference point. To see where the whole musical culture of Hindi music originated from.

The song I heard promoted first from the album was Heritage and that has quite a different sound from some of the other tracks on the album. I honestly thought there would be a few more tracks like heritage. What made you limit your use of Indian instruments to this one track?
Heritage is exactly what it is - it is a call back to our heritage of tabla and sitar. It was just that one track I wanted to do. I think a couple of the other tracks they have Indian stuff in there. It is mainly English stuff but because this track is more sitar driven, you notice it a bit more. With the sitar stuff its hard to find stuff that I can use and haven’t used before. I didn’t want too much complicated sitar stuff so I went for a simple sitar rhythm which worked really well in the track.

The reason I haven’t done any more of those tracks at the moment is just time, what I was listening to  and what influences me at the time. There are not that many sitar players doing stuff at the moment. Anoushka Shankar is still doing her stuff, but to me sometimes it sounds very dated. Like what other big artists have been doing. We like to do stuff ourselves. We’ll see what happens in the future I’m planning on working with some violinists and sitar players next year as well.

What future projects do you have regarding your own music now that you have made this album?

I think because I’ve done this album I have got a lot of stuff that I wanted to do out of my system. To show to  people hey look this is a new kind of sound that I would like to introduce and people have taken it on board so I’m really happy with that.

For next year I am working with lots of vocalists, lots more rappers and live vocalists. I’m developing a live show which will hopefully be ready by the end of this month. There is lots of production to be done for the two EPs - one full vocal EP and one dance EP for the English market.

You come across as a technical kind of guy. Your tracks have a certain structure and are well put together, yet listening to the album I feel like it was a labour of love. Do you ever have a conflict of heart and head musically speaking?
I always go with my heart if I am making something and I’m not feeling it. Even if it sounds good technically - I have made a few tracks like that which haven’t made the album. Really technically good. Sound fantastic, but not feeling the soul as much as I would expected to. So those tracks don’t make it to the album or don’t make it out anywhere. I always look for a definite piece of soul in the music I am trying to make.

Anything else you feel I should know about Playing with Sound that I haven’t asked you about?

It’s a representation of the last 10 years of my life in music and what I deem to be the best in UK dance. I like all genres of UK dance and I think we produce the best music in the entire world. To tell it honestly, all the best dance music comes from the UK and it is copied by everyone else. We are a really good source of independent music. We are just happy to be contributing good music to the scene. Hopefully people will appreciate us for it.

Each track I think took a month minimum to produce and mix. Sometimes I can make a track in about a week and half. But mixing and engineering it to make it sound even better. That’s where the additional part of the track comes through. When everything sounds really nice and not harsh to your ears - that’s when a you get the extra enjoyment of listening to the music. That’s what the extra week  that I spend working on the track- that’s the result of it. That’s what the big artists do. The produce something then send it off for post production. I don’t have the luxury or the funds to do that so I’ve spent most of my life learning how to do that, the professional techniques, and apply them to my music.

Stay tuned for the Sari-Clad Speakers review of Playing with Sound.

1 comment:

Sim said...

This is great. I'll have to check him out! xxx