Critically acclaimed AMIT is a leading electronic music artist and lecturer. Over the years, he has attracted an incredible cult following within his already specialised genre. As the creative button pusher told us, “electronic music is more about seeing music as sound design and effects, and not so much as actual notes. An early memory for example,” he continued, “was taking violin classes, and being strongly inclined towards using the bow to screech the instrument. I wanted to make interesting noises and distort the sounds rather than note learn clean melodies and master the violin. I enjoyed experimenting like this, but my teacher didn’t seem to agree! For me, the attraction to music lay in mood and producing different, distinctive textures.” Indeed, today having toured with iconic indie bands such as Sonic Youth as well as converting some of his original tracks into playable orchestral pieces – under the mentorship of Massive Attack’s Neil Davidge - Amit demonstrates well the often cerebral yet accessible merit of his atmospheric field. Commonly regarded as a simpler musical form due to its minimalist approach, electronica is no less profound. In fact, as Amit eloquently elaborated, there is a conceptual purity that comes with “creation by limitation. When I first got into it, I remember using my old-school commodore Amiga, and sampling up to 4 or 5 seconds worth of time, just intuitively generating really interesting, selective, evocative loops. Later, I learnt more refined techniques while studying music tech at university. There were a lot of other kids there who were feeling the same way as me – not particularly inspired by the pop that was playing in the charts, and more drawn to sonic sound effects.”
Electronica typically uses sparse sounds, repeated loops, very little or no lyrics, and inventive reverberations to evoke the paradoxical experience of precise yet very emotive feeling. The perfect number of cranial switches are flipped to evoke a particular disposition wherein the listener’s mind is allowed to wander to wherever their imagination will take them; within that particular meditative confine, of course. For example, more pop-electro bands Clams Casino are known for dreamy euphoria, while Bicep are ecstatic and motivational. The result is a beautiful shared yet individual journey: unconsciously -imaginatively - freeing. When you allow yourself to really connect, it can conjure incredibly intricate personal details, as if you’re walking through a vivid dream sequence. “It is certainly about how you can most viscerally translate what’s in your head to the listener. It is no coincidence that the fans and fellow artists who enjoy my music are often people with whom I click. I don’t think about what separates and defines me when I create - I go with my instincts, and that often appeals to other people, who, in some way feel they don’t fit in or are also seeking a sense of belonging. They’re not partial to the mainstream and are looking for something else; in music, in life. I have been influenced by so many different ideas, cultures and people. Growing up, Indian music, such as Mohammed Rafi, was the soundtrack to my life. I was also influenced by my older brother who would bring back early modern electro such as hip-hop and rave music. I liked the early Prodigy, Aphex Twin and Belgian hardcore electronica too.” Another inspiration, apparent in Amit’s signature political and particular deep sound, was having a history lecturer for a father. “We’d watch the news, and he’d teach us about social messages. In fact, one of my first tracks was called Swastika and the composition commented on governments and fascist dictators.” A more recent track, Survivor, where Amit teamed up with writer Rani, certainly carries that dark, interrogative edge. Obviously, the main electro lyric is ‘survivor’, but bolstered by a heavy, militant tone and female vocals such as, ‘you told me lies were golden’, this resonated as a piece on domestic violence. Thus, brilliantly showcasing its almost academic sensibility, Amit shows how electronica is classical music in modern times. Going back to his supposedly renegade behaviour in the class room, he added: “it is very telling that at the time I was studying, I was being warned not to break equipment and to stop fighting traditional teaching, but then got invited back to do a MA and eventually teach students myself.” An in-depth expression of the human soul, Amit shows us the state of music as it stands today: unifying and connective. Where the practice was once ornate and showy, electronica conversely collapses the barrier of the medium itself to now touch, move and titillate: “the music becomes you. In that vein, I don’t believe in educative elitism and guarded secrets either,” he aptly finished. “It’s why I started my own online school. I strongly believe in giving aspiring artists a fair chance.”
With your championing of fluid identity, you are in a way subversively named AMIT; can you comment on that?
Obviously, I’m a British-Asian, and have never needed to flex my ethnicity. My background comes into my music in a very holistic way. Again, electronica and certainly my music is designed to ask questions. It prompts you to find answers about yourself in a very open and expansive way. Also, from the standpoint of my background, my father always said that a piece of work only stands the test of time if it is thought-provoking.
What have been some favourite gigs?
I’ll cover three continents as I love to travel: Humming Tree in Bangalore because the people are so down to earth. Then there’s the show I did in Portland this year. It was very small but everyone was there for the authentic reasons we spoke about. There was a performance in Melbourne Australia called Grumpy’s – just a bit more fun and wild.
As someone who has experienced cassettes, CDs, iPods to… everything online, what have you thought?
There are pros and cons, but you make it work. With the more physical mediums, record labels could charge a high premium and it was harder to make copies. Whereas now because everything is digital, it’s easier but on the flipside piracy is promotion, and if someone in the developing world can’t afford my tracks, he/she can access them. If their country has a lower GDP it’s not his/her fault and they might even attend one of my gigs live. I also make vinyl and digital so everyone is happy!
Finally, what are some favourite electronic effects?
King Tubby, the pioneer of dub music as we know it, is my biggest influence. As a result, my music contains effects manipulated via a mixing desk, tape delay and spring reverb. Within that I get lost in the echoes and manipulating those elements has been always been fruitful.
W: Audio Science Online; www.audioscienceonline.com