Artist of the month: Raj Pandit-Score Short Reads
How did you start your career as a singer as well as a Music Producer considering both of them are so different from one another?
Music happened to me very organically. I grew up in a very musical environment given that my mother, Neerja Pandit, is a well known Kashmiri Folk singer herself. So I was naturally inclined towards singing! While I began learning music formally at a very young age,I used to also accompany her to studios every time she had a recording.
That world of technology which revolved around music, really fascinated me! Among the few people who’ve guided and mentored me over the years, it was Tauseef Akhtar (Composer & Ghazal Singer) who pushed me to learn music production when I was only 11 years old. That gave me a sense of independence where I could not only record myself singing as practice, but also put together a basic track to a melody, that was ringing in my head.
Right after I passed out of school, I worked under Raju Singh for 2 years and did additional production for his television projects. Eventually, I joined Salim – Sulaiman as an intern at the age of 17 and it was truly life changing.
In the last 10 years of working with them, I’ve had the opportunity to watch them compose / produce and also record so many incredible singers and musicians. Being on the technical side of things, gave me a great understanding of the overall process, which really helps when I’m the one singing in the studio too.
I truly believe it’s all interconnected when it comes to music and I really enjoy singing as much as I have fun while producing a song.
You have worked & collaborated with multiple artists. Could you talk about some of your significant/best moments.
There’s one thing that Salim sir always says – “Music is about people. You could sit alone in a room and make music for hours but when people’s energies come together, that’s when magic happens.” And I’m glad that I’ve experienced the magic of collaboration multiple times with so many different artists and musicians.
Some of the best moments definitely include recording with singers like Shreya Ghoshal, Sukhwinder Singh, Sonu Nigam, Sunidhi Chauhan, Arijit Singh. Each of them have such a unique process of approaching every song, but all of them are bound by one quality – sheer dedication towards their craft and it’s so amazing to see the same passion in the likes of artists like Jonita Gandhi & Armaan Malik. I try and imbibe the best from everyone that I get to work with.
3 qualities you think a music producer must possess and why?
Patience : On most days, the music just flows but at times it takes days to figure out the right sound to a song. So the spirit to keep at it until you get it right, requires a lot of patience.
Basics : It makes the process a lot easier when you have the technical basics right – recording/tracking quality, sample rates, tempo maps.
Minimalism : Being okay with not adding layers is something that I’ve learnt over the years. It’s equally important to know where not to add music.
Talk about your formal music training if you have had any.
I started learning the Tabla at the age of 4, as my first instrument, which really helped me build my foundation in the basics of Indian Classical music. After learning from a private tutor for a few years, I later joined Ustad Allarakha Institute of Music which was amazing.
To be around and learn from greats like Ustad Zakir Hussain & Ustad Taufiq Qureshi was incredible. Later I also learnt Piano at Theme Music Institute, Mumbai for a few years which helped me simultaneously explore Western Classical music and expand the melodic side of my musical knowledge.
How do you maintain your vocal health?
I stick to warm drinks, especially on show and recording days and avoid oily food completely. I also do regular warm ups and sing a little bit everyday to keep my vocal chords in check.
Tell us about your tech setup as a music producer & your gear as an artist
For music production, I use Logic Pro X as my primary DAW and also Nuendo for certain audio editing features. I use a 2014 Mac Pro machine and a Prophet Synth which also doubles up as my midi controller. I use the Audio Technica M50 headphones and for stage, I use the Ultimate Ears custom in-ear monitors – UE18 Pro. I just can’t imagine doing a show without it.
After receiving such an amazing response to my debut independent single ‘Vibe’, I’m excited to work on my next and already have some ideas that I’m putting down. Apart from that, there are various film projects and independent singles that I’m producing with Salim – Sulaiman which are slated for release in the coming months.
Best stage performance ever
By far, our Salim Sulaiman Live concert in Toronto (March, 2018) was one of the most epic shows!
3 artists you would love to work with
Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande, AR Rahman.
Most embarrassing concert/ recording and why
Our concert at NIT Trichy back in 2013 was one of the most embarrassing ones, purely because of the constant technical breakdowns we were facing on stage. It was also my first college show with Salim Sulaiman Live as a singer, but thankfully those issues didn’t translate as much to the audience. They loved the show regardless.
If not music, what?