Anish Sood, India’s most popular DJ and music producers talks to us about his new musical name Anyasa, on his upcoming EP Gaya and discover more about this amazing DJ through this conversation.
Tell us about the name Anyasa. It’s a beautiful word. How did you come across it? And why did you feel compelled to make the change from Anish Sood to Anyasa?
The idea behind changing my artist name was to wipe the slate clean and create a fresh start. I think the new sound and radically different approach to Gaya really deserved a new identity and with a label like Anjunadeep backing the release it felt like the right move to make.
The name itself took a while to get right. I had some basic ideas laid out and they were – It had to sound “Indian” and hence Sanskrit was the go-to language. It also needed to sound like an evolution of my name and thus I was looking for words that started with A and of course it had to make sense in the larger scheme of things as well.
So I basically bought a bunch of Sanskrit dictionaries, started shortlisting words and eventually lucked out! Anyasa translates to spontaneous or effortless and I can’t think of a better way to describe this evolution.
Could you talk to us about your four-track EP Gaya?
Gaya was written with the intent of being a conceptual EP. This was right in the middle of the first lockdown when inspiration and motivation were at an all-time low and I was just trying to make music as a creative outlet. There were a lot of small things that came together in hindsight to create Gaya.
I looked back at a lot of progressive trance from the early 2000s and that definitely served as a reference point for writing music that was emotive and euphoric. Working with Indian vocals was also a chance discovery but the further I delved into it, I quickly realised that there was something special.
The EP itself is designed to take the listener on a journey through the night. It starts off with ‘Rasiya’ which is a mellow take on vocal deep house. The vocal is really the star of the track and the production was built around it for support.
From there on the EP gets progressively darker and the tracks have been arranged very carefully to create big moments on dancefloors. I think what I’m most proud of with the EP is that even once the energy levels pick up significantly towards the end with ‘Ranjhna’ and ‘Nadiyan’, they don’t lose the emotions from the vocals and that really is the essence of the sound I wanted to make with Anyasa.
We absolutely loved ‘Rasiya’, your first single off from the EP. How did you decide to collaborate with Isheeta Chakrvarty?
I first discovered Isheeta Chakrvaty on a track by Anhad & Tanner which they asked me to remix. I was truly blown away by her voice as well as her ability to write Indian classical melodies with a very fresh and contemporary feel. In many ways reaching out to her was the start of the journey that put me on the path to Gaya and then Anyasa.
What’s your process of choosing an artist you would like to collaborate with? What drew you to your other collaborators Bawari Basanti, Avneet Khurmi and Amira Gill for example?
For me it’s all about that first reaction. There has to be something special that instantly draws me to their voice. I think each of the collaborators is very unique in their own way and I’ve also processed each vocal differently to bring out the texture in their voices.
You’re signed with a famous label Anjunadeep, which is a big first for an Indian artist. Congratulations! What are your thoughts on signed on with a label? What are your expectations of a label like Anjunadeep?
Thank you! It’s a pretty surreal feeling to be honest. I grew up listening to Above & Beyond and Anjunadeep and some of the oldest CDs in my first DJ case feature their records. Beyond the initial excitement, I’m actually very grateful that they have signed a sound that is quite radically different from the rest of their catalogue and that’s always a huge risk for such an established label.
They have an impressive distribution network I’m also really excited for Anjunadeep’s very loyal following worldwide to listen to the music, I truly believe it’s a unique and authentic sound and I’m looking forward to sharing it.
Tell us about 5 pieces of gear you cannot live without and why.
My laptop definitely tops the list. Over the years I’ve transitioned from being fully in the box to buying a bunch of hardware and external gear to coming around and being in the box again. I think at this point the difference between software and hardware is only how you can creatively use it and what inspires you, sonically they are nearly identical.
My Focal Twin6 monitors come next, having a reliable and accurate set of monitors is essential while producing.
The Native Instruments Maschine MK3 comes next. All my drums are arranged on it and it’s a key element in my songwriting process.
Next is the Universal Audio Apollo/Satellite combo. The Apollo is a phenomenal soundcard and the Satellite gives me extra processing power to run the UAD plugins which are absolutely amazing. They really narrow the gap between producers in home studios mixing ITB and those using large format consoles in dedicated studios.
Last but not the least is my only piece of outboard gear and that’s the Elektron Analog MK2. I sold two synths to buy this one and it’s ridiculously powerful for its size. While the UI can be tricky to navigate, once you learn the workflow it’s very rewarding.
You transition from Anish Sood to Anyasa also prompts us to ask for your take on the electronic music scene in India.
I think the electronic music scene is at a pivotal stage in the country. After the initial EDM boom that was instrumental in exposing so many young listeners to electronic music, the whole country has evolved and everyone has found their distinct tastes.
What we have now is a scene that is far more mature and also very dedicated to the sound they want to listen to.
What would be your message be to upcoming artists who choose a similar path such as you?
Two key words – patience and resilience. Like everything in life, time is the key to finding a sound and identity.
It’s also really important to stay focussed to your vision. It’s often easy to pick opportunities that come along the way that may not fully align with your vision and there is nothing wrong with seizing those moments because everyone’s journey is different and we all have bills to pay. The important thing however is to come around and find the path again and that’s the only way to effectively break through.
Could you share a few details about your upcoming projects?
First up is a special livestream set that was recorded on a cliff above Anjuna beach. It’s a great homecoming for the label and showcases a beautiful side of my hometown, Goa.
We also have a music video coming up for ‘Rasiya’ very shortly which a collaboration with my friend Tridha Choudhury.
The second EP with Anjunadeep is almost done and should be scheduled for release towards the end of the year.