Behind the Beat w/ Kush Arora
Local dubstep/bass music producer Kush Arora has long had his eyes and ears set far from standard American music. Throughout the four-plus years Kush has been crafting his eclectic tunes, he has kept a strong focus on the international styles and instruments from such locales as Jamaica, Africa, and India, which slowly came to define his sound. Now, with his latest musical offering, the Voodoo Sessions EP, Kush Arora readies to perform his low end-dedicated dance tunes at the Surya Dub Three-Year Anniversary party this Saturday, May 29 at Club Six.
We did a short interview beforehand to get a bit more insight on the producer's background and style. Kush told us a bit about what he uses to make his music, the lengths he's gone to procure a rare instrument, and the beef he has with the typical club scene as of late.
How would you describe your music to someone completely unfamiliar with the current dubstep/tropical scene?
It's dancehall and bass music-influenced beats that kind of fuck and fight with each other, and land in a weird place between SF, Jamaica, London, and India. It's definitely danceable, but often cinematic and linear in its progression. Half the time, I work with reggae MCs, and the rest is solo electronics.
What usually inspires you to start work on a production?
Aside from hearing other great music all the time that I want to twist into my own versions, just funky life experiences and interactions. So many funny, horrible, and bizarre things are constantly happening in this city, and words can't really describe it. All these riddims and sounds are a better language.
How much of your track creation relies on software? How much on hardware?
Most of my track creation relies on software. However, I do use hardware (synths, mics, compressors) when recording vocals and instruments. I only have one synth, but do lots of field recording and Indian instrument noodling.
Who are some of your favorite producers/bands out right now?
If there was a fire in your studio, what two items would you save first?
First my two speakers, then this wicked shaker/sword thing called a chimpta which has bells balanced on drilll bits through steel. It sounds so good, and took a trip to Delhi to find. It was a real pain in the ass.
You just dropped a new EP with a strong tropical/tribal sound. Where does that influence come from?
People should move, not just nod. I've always dug tribal/cultural sounds (as a drummer), and I did this fun Latin jazz drumming camp thing in junior high that kind of left me permanently enjoying those sounds. I've been making bhangra, which is full of tribal drums, but the shift here for me was putting that comfort zone aside and trying more Afro/Latin beats found in the recent UK funky/house/bass thing going on.
What's your favorite part about performing live? Least favorite part?
Aside from the whole party thang, it's the best teller of how your music is resonating with people in that environment. The shittiest part about it is how often live situations these days--with the dwindling amount of non-clubby club nights--don't leave much room for journeys with an audience. Club culture ebbs and flows like that.
Do you do much sampling in your work? If so, where do a lot of those sounds come from?
I sample the hell out of old Punjabi, Hindi, and sound library records. Some of this comes from my family's music collection, and alot of it is sound file digging or recording my own stuff. I'm looking for a moment lost in time, with sounds that are just unreproducible any other way.
Where do you think the future of dubstep lies?
Dubstep's impact has basically gotten a lot of non-dance music genres back to focusing on riddim and bass, and that's where the real future of it is going. The genre itself mutates so much. There is house music with a dubstep-type feel to it. Shit, there's even African music too. The more distilled, "wiggery," teen-bandana, bullshit dubstep is coined "brostep," and really, it's starting to sound like soulless rave fanfare. On a major level, that's also where it's going. Booo!
Any advice for aspiring producers?
Make sure you live a varied lifestyle for inspiration. Throw yourself into as many awkward situations as possible, hang out with people who don't make the music you do, and find something unique that you have to offer a genre or style before pissing digital data drivel all over the Internet.