Catching up again with Dnb ace Ox7gen

by Fathima Shayek
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Catch-up interview with one of India’s leading DnB artists , OX7GEN – A peak into his DnB workflow and day-to-day life. Earning his place as an essential in the DnB world after having released on prolific labels like RAM , OX7GEN likes to keep leveling up his game and adapting his style. We sat down with him, after our last interview, to check what he’s been upto of late and to probe a little deeper into the inner workings of his mind

1. Hi Aditya! Catch us up on your life. What’s been happening since we last spoke?

The last few months have been quite pivotal, to say the least. I’ve just moved into a new home
in Goa. I spent the last year designing and getting a studio constructed in one of the rooms so I
finally have a great sounding room to work on new music, finish mix-downs and also record
drums. It’s been a lifelong dream and I’m ecstatic to finally have it set up. I also got married
early in the year and got a dog a few months before that so life as I know it has completely
changed, but in all kinds of great ways. I spent the monsoon mostly in Goa (other than a few
trips in and out of Bombay and other cities for shows) finishing up a bunch of song ideas that I
had sketched out between 2020-2021. So there’s lots of new music in the bag ready to see the
light of day.

2. After releasing a lot of DnB music in the last decade, your last EP Moon Module
explored more of your synthwave and downtempo side. What can we expect from you

The new music that I just spoke about is in the 128-132 BPM range. I’ve been wanting to
explore the 4/4 landscape for a while and with the new studio space and new energy that it
brought, things just fell into place. I’ve also got a 2 track EP with my good friend Bradley
(Schlick) that will be out early next year as well. That’s a pretty straightforward 120 BPM house
record that was made for the floors.

3. What’s your process from ideating a project to writing it down? Do you use analog gear
or make music completely inside software?

My writing process usually starts with messing around on a synthesizer (either software or
hardware) until there’s a moment of magic and I can hear something that might form the basis of a certain section of the song. I’ll try and write 2 or 3 counterparts that work with it and finish it up with a beat and a baseline to get a sketch of a section of the tune. And then it’s all about
visualising the journey of the track based on that one section. The final version of a song might
be completely different from where it started. For me, it’s all about creating the initial sections
that can help me visualise the mood and energy of a potential new song and then try to get from
what I’m hearing in my head to what’s on the DAW (digital audio workstation) as soon as
possible. I mostly work inside the box but I do have a few synths that I might pull up every now
and then just to keep things interesting for me.

4. How does being a drummer translate into writing drums in software? Does it help you
in programming them in a way that feels more natural or as one would say “like a
drummer would play”?

I don’t necessarily think drummers have that much of an edge in programming beats anymore.
The rise in services like splice and softwares like battery, superior drummer, etc, it’s leveled the
playing field quite a bit. Maybe we might be able to get to the idea faster than a non-drummer
but if you’re a producer who doesn’t know how to play the drums (by that I mean the limb
independence) but you’ve still spent countless hours listening to beats, analysing songs and the
dynamics and swing that the drums can create, and of course, spent a lot of time in the software
programming beats, you’d probably be as good as a drummer doing the same.

5. Are gigs and events going back to how they used to post the pandemic?

Definitely looks like it. Possibly much more than they were before the pandemic. It’s a bit
disheartening to see the continued downward trend of live music in the country but it’s just the
ebb and flow of music culture. Not much you can do about that.

6. What are some of the best things about choosing a career in music?

You get to be your own boss. You get to spend all your time doing something you love. I spend
many Sundays in the studio simply because that’s what I would do for fun anyway. You get to
travel a lot and see new places. You get to face a lot of demons and if you’ve got the right
attitude, you get the opportunity to figure out how to defeat them, which has massive benefits in
your journey through life.

7. The wisest piece of advice you’ve been given?

Don’t get too caught up in the romanticism of the art of music-making. Fix a daily time, show up
at your desk, put in the hours, and treat everything that comes after that as a by-product. (And a
bunch of other great advice from Steven Pressfield in his book ‘The War of Art’)

8. A YouTube tutorial channel you highly recommend?

Sol State: Click here

9. How do you program your drums? Do you use synthesized drums or breaks? Or a mix of

I use a mix of both. Audio samples beats/breaks to form the mid-live element of the drum track,
and programmed kicks, snares, and a few hats as the meat and potatoes of the sound.

10. Performing live as a drummer/as an electronic musician. Which one do you prefer?

I’d have to say performing live as a drummer. There’s little that can replace the feeling of losing
yourself in the moment, creating music out of thin air with other people around you.

11. When did you first come face to face with electronic music and DnB?

I first encountered electronic music when I was really young. Probably the age of 10/11. MTV
and Channel V and a few other underground TV stations used to run songs by artists like Alice
Deejay, Safriduo, Tiesto. I remember even a bunch of Vengaboys and Aqua B-sides had huge
influences of house and euro trance. I started to pay closer attention much later around 2008
when I came across drum & bass artists like London Electricity and Erik Trufaz at the erstwhile
Blue Frog in Bombay.

12. You have released music on major labels like RAM records and Hospital. While writing music do you have certain labels and sounds in mind?

Not really. There’ve been times when I’ve finished 80% of a track and on a whim, I might change
the tempo from 170 (drum & bass) all the way down to 140 just to see what it sounds like and if
it sparks a new direction or idea for the song.

13. The best decision you’ve made this year?

Venturing into a new musical direction.

14. Best and worst memory from playing a gig?

Best – Playing to thousands of people on the Deftones EU tour in 2017 with Skyharbor. Worst –
A particular downtempo acoustic tribute show I played with an artist almost 10 years ago. Easily
the worst show I’ve been a part of.

15. An upcoming act that we ought to look out for?

Don’t know if he qualifies as upcoming anymore but Nate08

16. If you could collaborate with any artist, it would be…

Scott Hansen (Tycho) would top the list!

17. The track currently stuck in your head?

Last Light – Zero 7, Jose Gonzales linka

Listen to the exclusive Indicast below

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