In Search of right Sound- Conversation with the Multi-Dimensional Karsh Kale – Score Short Reads

In the world of music, sound plays an inherent part of the overall listening experience. It brings out an artistic fervour to the listener and embarks them on a unique musical journey. Some gifted musicians across the globe overcome the boundaries of genres, connect links and bring out marvellous experiences that evoke multitudes of memories, and visuals to the mind’s eye.

As music evolved over time, new genres came into picture that opened up never before seen boundaries to the listener. One such fantastic musician who needs no introduction in the field of global electronic music and underground music is Karsh Kale.

A musician who is in constant search for the right sound, who never stops until his musical equilibrium is reached in creating a composition, a musician who can link multiple art forms with the scintillating aspect of sound, Karsh Kale is an absolute musical delight.

Karsh Kale

While the entire globe is fighting the vices of the pandemic, this gifted artist has come up with two parts of an album named Touch. The first part has released and bringing in some amazing response all over. 

The Score Magazine is extremely pleased to have a soulful conversation with this gifted musician:

Hello Karsh, Congratulations of releasing your 6th album “Touch”! We absolutely love it! Our personal favourites are ‘Lovers’ and ‘Fist of Fury’. When we listened to Sunset Sketch right after Fist of Fury, the transition was beautiful.  How did you manage to create this album amid the pandemic situation?

Thank you! It all started when I came to the US from India in March 2020, for a period of three weeks and was supposed to return to Goa after that. I had about 3 to 4 shows in Chicago, New York and LA. I have a place in Brooklyn and was actually not planning to stay there. But thanks to the pandemic, I was stuck there. The black Lives movement was happening and lockdown was rampant.

I hadn’t seen my family and friends then, and was disconnected with the world. I started writing lot of music then, and finally could get to Goa after many attempts. I spent the next six months in Goa, now again in lockdown, which became the collection of music. This is the first part of my compositions and the second part will be releasing this July.

Does the name “Touch” signify anything particular according to you?

Touch was something which we were missing especially during this time of pandemic. People couldn’t meet their loved ones, family and close people because of the social distancing. Suddenly, there was a serious longing for human touch in these difficult times. That is where the inspiration for this album came from. 

How did you rope in Indian Folk Singer, Padma Shri Malini Awasthi for the song “Lovers”?

Malini ji and me were in a studio about three years ago working on a piece of music. Before we started working on it, we did few recordings having her extempore aalaps that I hadn’t revisited till then.

During the pandemic, I opened them up and started writing pieces of music revolving around it. I arranged around her vocals and sent it to her and she loved it! She said we had to put it some proper form and it happened.

“Lovers” is inspired by many stories I have heard during the times of pandemic who were separated away from continents, and geographical distance. 

You are known for amazing collaborations. How did you decide to create this one album without collaborations?

More than anything else, it was due to the pandemic, the inability to get together with artists. There is a lot of conversational aspect that happens in music, not just a process of studio recording. In this case, I just kept the blueprints to myself.

What are some of the qualities you look for before collaborating with an artist? 

I usually like working with artists that are willing to go out of their comfort zone and willing to take a risk to arrive somewhere new and uncharted. 

For me, collaborating is an adventure you embark on with other artists so the more willingness there is to try new things , the more of a chance that something magically unplanned may appear. 

In your own words, could you describe each of the tracks you have created through this album especially Fist of Fury?

Fist of Fury is a continuation of Liquid Tabla which I put up earlier that are tabla driven electronic tracks. It started with “One Step Beyond” and continued with “GK2”, in the next album another track “New Born Track” which all have an aggressive tabla feel to it.

Bruce Lee is the inspiration for these tracks and if you listen to them back-to-back, you can make out the connection. Fist of Fury is also named after Bruce Lee actually! I’ve also done a track named “Be Like Water” after the famous quote by the martial arts legend.

What about Sunset Sketch? 

This track actually happened when I was on a phone call with my friend who was watching sunset (in Mumbai) while I was watching sunrise (in New York).

We were exchanging pictures of sunset and sunrise simultaneously and talking about it.  That was the inspiration behind the track. 

Talk to us about the process of your production.  How did you manage to produce this album in the times of pandemic?

Fortunately, we all have our mobile studios now and I have a studio in Goa and Brooklyn. Once I plug my laptop to my gear, I can easily produce music and I was able to do it in a contained space. It took a year to finish the tracks.

What are some of the instruments you used in making of this album? 

I definitely used tabla as a kind of a spine throughout the album, even in the ballads. I tried to achieve a different sound through tabla. For example, in Fist of Fury, tabla was the main voice. Sometimes I used vocal, some other times as a side instrument.

I also write a lot on piano, and I transform it to synth sounds within Logic. There is acoustic guitar, and in the second part of the album Touch-2 , there are some interesting collaborations that are high on guitars. It’s mainly me with my computer, Logic, Piano and the Sounds!

“Karsh Kale mixes eclectic beats with the sounds of his heritage to make a sound that is distinctly his own.” – These were the words of Former American President Barack Obama. Where do you draw inspiration from while creating these sounds?

I have always been doing it since I was a kid. I used to hear a pop song and found an analogy to a film song. Sometimes a visual piece of art can evoke a certain sound.

Throughout my life, I have always been in search for unique sounds. I listen to everything from classical music, R & B, Jazz, Ambient Music, and I am constantly changing to various genres. At the same time, my canvas is blank and I keep it open completely.

Do you have any process for composition?

My melodies are usually created when I am on my piano. Once I formulate an idea or a story, I take it to Logic. It comes from many places after that. Sometimes, I find it from electronic sounds and build from there.

The tracks are very diverse in even in this album “Touch” – the first half takes up one way and in the second half , the journey goes completely unexpected. 

If there is any particular album/ track of yours that you could re-work on, what would it be and why?

I think I’d much rather make something new.  I don’t like much to listen back too much to my old stuff for that very reason that I’ll start thinking of how I could have done it better. It is always better not to look back at all and go forward with zeal. 

According to you, what makes a piece of music worth listening to?

There are too many answers to that question because we listen to music for various reasons. We don’t eat food just for only one reason and similarly our relationship with music is multi layered and varies from day to day and even at different times time of day.  For me,  music simply needs to capture a mood and tell a story or create a journey for the listener to take.  

What is the one thing that you will never compromise with when it comes to composition?

There is a lot of wavering when it comes to finalising a composition. Some compositions never leave me for months, but when I know when I arrived at the crux and feel that, “This is what it is really all about!” , that is my ultimate success point as a musician. 

What are some of the most significant musical choices you have made?

I think that learning and studying Tabla had been a huge asset to my abilities of playing and understanding the physicality of other instruments. Also, being a drummer has given me a foundation as a musician allowing me to understand pocket and groove on any instrument. 

The choice to incorporate Indian Classical and Folk Music into my productions has allowed me to achieve a soundscape that has allowed me to make music for more than two decades .   

What are your thoughts on Indie music in India?

I really don’t know that there is such a thing as Indie music in India any more as Indian artists of all walks have gone global. India is producing world-class Pop artists , singers, songwriters , electronic producers , rappers and fusion artists on par with that if the rest if the world now.  Done are the days of Indie music I think.  India is International 

What would be your message to artists who have just made their entry into the industry?

There is such an incredible saturation of talented musicians these days, there is a tendency to copy or imitate what we see. I would like to remind the young artists is to be original and not to be too carried away with a particular musician. Always remember that your strongest asset is originality. 

Rapid Fire

  • An artist you would love to collaborate with- Radiohead or Tom York
  • A musician that you call yourself a fanboy of- Peter Gabriel, Radiohead. I am still a fanboy of the musicians I have collaborated with. I am heavily inspired by people like Zakir Hussain and Sting and glad to collaborate with him. I am admiring even the young such as House of Waters, Priyadarshini who are doing great. 
  • An artist you could never get tired listening to- Stevie Wonder
  • An instrument you would love to learn if you could?- I do play guitar but I want to be a better guitarist always. Flute always eludes me. When I pick up flute I can never make music out of it. I would love to learn it someday!

Do Follow

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/karshkale/?hl=en

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