In conversation with MadStarBase: Bira 91’s April Fools’ Fest

Ahead of the much awaited Bira 91’s April Fools’ Fest, we had a chat with MadStarBase on their partnership, musical influences, & more.

How did your partnership come into being? 

N: We’ve been producing beats with our homies (other members of the MadStarBase crew) since high school. We started by making beats for RiSK, an amazing rapper from New Jersey (who is Ase’s cousin), and then It just kind of evolved from there. Ase and I came back to India after college and decided to start producing and DJing under the MadStarBase name so we can get our music out there. 

A: My cousin started writing sick flows and rapping when he was 14. I always loved rap but wasn’t as skilled a lyricist as him, so I started learning how to produce beats. I remember buying Reason 2.0 after using Fruity Loops for a while (now I use Reason 10!) Neal and I grew up together so we started to spend our time hanging out making beats on Reason. Studio sessions became our regular weekend plans. Along with RiSK, DJ MoCity and other homies we started a crew called AfterShock Records. After college we knew we had to keep working on our music game and thats when we launched MSB.

Tell us a bit about your musical influences?

N: It’s a little bit of everything to be honest. We both had a deep love for hip-hop and R&B since we were young so that has definitely influenced our general vibe. Then the UK dubstep wave hit me, and I gravitated to the bass, while at the same time staying connected to hip-hop. But as my music tastes and knowledge started maturing, everything I like started becoming an influence on me. There are no genres anymore in my mind that I stick to.

A: Rap music was the first genre I really got into and started to develop a taste for. Nowadays I take influences from everything from jazz and world music to country bangers.

Most artists in India weigh in towards the dance genre, your music lingers more towards the R&B, Chill-pop side. Was it a conscious choice or just came in naturally?

I would say it came naturally. The stuff we play out is pretty much the stuff we listen to when we’re chilling, or digging for new music. There is so much heat on the Internet, and young producers are making insane tracks that nobody hears. We thought they would work really well on the dance floor and it just took off from there. Sick beats all day.

What equipment do you use- while producing and DJing?

For producing we use Reason and Ableton. For DJing we use CDJs. We also use Maschine, Ableton Push and other midi controllers for producing.

Tell us a bit about your first encounter with turntables?

N: Mine was during college. A friend of mine sold me a pair of turntables and I just started messing around on those. I was playing old school dubstep pressure at the time. 

A: Neal put me on turntables after college. I heard records before that, but in the last 4-5 years I’ve started a record collection and got my own turntable setup. 

Do you prefer releasing your music independently or via a Label? Which is more gratifying? 

Honestly, we’ve never really released anything via a label before, so we can’t really speak to that. But we love releasing tracks independently. We really like the grassroots aspect of it.

Do you approach each gig differently or is there a uniformed strategy?

It’s a combination of both. The main thing we set out to achieve is to turn the dance floor upside down. Banger after banger. But we also craft our sets to suit who we’re playing for, when, where etc. and each gig is always different. 

Tell us a bit about your upcoming projects?

We’ve got some collaborations in the works with dope Indian producers and singers. A RiSK remix project that showcases his insane flows on fat beats with 808s. There is a “club-weapons” project that includes our Bollywood remixes which we’re gearing up to release independently as well. 

What will be your set list at Bira 91 April Fools’ Fest.

It’ll be a unique take on all things hip-hop. Genre-bending, global in its reach, side-to-side movements with the beat. Definitely going to drop some tunes for all the real hip-hop heads, some of our original material, and some overall nice vibes for people to enjoy.