With Tatsama having new music out now on Juicebox Music we catch up with him for the latest episode of 12 Questions.
1. How old are you, where are you living and how long have you been producing and Djing?
I am 33 years old , living in Hyderabad , India. I started Dj’ing about 13 years back (though there was a gap of 7 years where I got involved in non-music related business) and producing music for the past 4-5 years. The past 4 years have been all about music for me , with a residency at a club here and studio work when I am not playing.
2. Where do your musical roots lie, what are your first memories of electronic music and when did you know you wanted to pursue it seriously? Are there any particular productions or artists from the past that really made you think to yourself ‘this is what I want to do.”
I think I was 13 or 14 years old when my mother put on a cassette of Simon and Garfunkle and I heard the song ‘Scarborough fair’ for the first time. I think this song was the seed for everything else to follow . My first experience with Electronic music was probably around that time too , when I bought a cassette of the group 2Unlimited and heard a western 4/4 techno/pop/dance/whathaveyou beat for the first time haha (We did not have much choice at the time in the music stores here). 2000-2002 were the years I think , when I well and truly fell in love with everything House. I still remember those days clearly when , Timo Maas’s album ‘Loud’ found its way to the market here and when Planet Funk released “Chase the sun’. Some of the other artists that really left an impression on me at the time were, The Chemical brothers, Fatboy Slim, Depeche Mode, Dirty Vegas , X-Press 2, Oscar G & Ralph Falcon amongst many more great producers.
3. How difficult was learning to produce for you in the beginning? Did you take any Audio Engineering programs or production courses to help you out or are you pretty much self taught? And did anyone give any advice early on that really helped?
How difficult ? Like climbing Mt.Everest with nothing but rubber slippers and a sweater haha. There was a real dearth of producers in hyderabad at the time , infact , apart from 2 other people I don’t think there was anyone even trying to or wanting to produce House music in my city. The internet too was not what it is now . The knowledge base for Electonic Music Production was pretty much zero here. I went pretty quickly from being obsessed with dj’ing to being obsessed with wanting to produce the music I was listening too. In 2004 I went to Manchester(UK) and studied Audio Engg at The School Of Sound Recording(S-S-R). Though the focus was more on Live/Band recording stuff, It was a gateway for me into understanding how Electronic Music is produced. I learnt Reason and Cubase there and things started making more sense to me.
4. What parts of the production process do you find the most difficult and what comes easiest for you? When you do hit a creative block what helps you through it?
I think the hardest part for me these days is in deciding if the track has all the elements it needs or if it has a lil too much. This is a constant battle for me and I think one of the reasons I am hyper-critical of my stuff. I think the initial idea/hook for the project is pretty easy to get down, but translating that into a full blown track is another matter entirely. The way I deal with creative blocks is to simply turn off the studio , give it a few days and then start again. Sometimes the mind needs a complete break from ‘work’.
5. You have a new remix out this week on Juicebox Music, a stunning rework of the always excellent Li-Polymer. Tell us how you approached the remix and what it’s like returning to one of India’s top electronic music imprints.
The Li-polymer remix was one that I finished pretty quickly only because the Original is just so inspiringly beautiful. I knew Loquai was going to be remixing this one too and I kept that in the back of my mind as I worked on my version. I think having heavy weight names on the EP helped push me on this one. I knew exactly what elements from the remix pack I would use almost immediately after having a listen. Using those elements from the original as a blank canvas , I began to paint. It really is a pleasure to work with Praveen Achary and Greg Tomaz over at Juicebox Music. They are firmly a part of my electronic family. Their extremely professional work ethic and constant call for quality or quantity is what I really love about them.
6. Apart from electronic music what other genres do you listen to and who are your favourite artists outside of electronic? and do these genres or artists have a direct effect on your own productions?
I tend to go back to Jazz influenced stuff when I am not listening to Electronic Music and sometimes I go way back to the likes of T-Bone Walker. I think when you listen to music you like, doesn’t matter what genre, it tends to affect how you approach your own work in the studio , either at a conscious level or sub-conscious level.
7. What was the first and last physical (CD, Vinyl, Cassette etc) piece of music you bought?
The first Vinyl I ever bought was from “The Plant Life “, It has King Britts Scuba Remix on the B-side 🙂 The last piece of vinyl I bought was the commercially unreleased remixes from “Larry Leavn : The Definitive Salsoul Mixes ’78-’83 ”
8. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
I hate wearing shoes, especially while giging.
9. What’s a normal day like for you? Do you have a job outside of electronic music? And what do you like to do when you’re not working on music?
A normal day for me starts at around 9 in the morning, followed by 4 hrs in the studio, then a break in the afternoon and then another 4-5hrs in the evening. My life revolves around the studio totally these days. When I am not working on music, I like to travel.
10. Which producers consistently inspire you? And where else does your inspiration come from?
There are too many to name , but Bonobo and Kalya Scintilla provide huge inspiration for me. I have a secret passion for painting (though I cannot draw a straight line to save my life) and sometimes I will watch youtube videos of real professional painters working their craft, especially landscapes, and that can get me in the right frame of mind in the studio.
11. There are countless producers out there trying to find their way and create their own unique sound, what advice do you have for them?
It’s very easy to fall into the habit of trying so hard to emulate your fav producer that you lose sight of your own sound. Balance and practise are key, and building your own sample library and Vsti/hardware patches. It takes time, but it will be worth it in the end. Don’t let genres decide what you listen too, listen to everything.
12. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?
That’s a toughie. Probably Frankie Knuckles – Jack Your Body.
Tatsama’s remix of Li-Polymer is out now on Juicebox Music, you can purchase the release: here