From prog metal to experimental electronica – The Zokhuma Journey

Over the last few years, Arman Menezies aka Zokhuma has carved himself as a firm fan favorite with his criss-cross between soundscapes you’ve never heard—think frantic, chopped-up African beats...

Over the last few years, Arman Menezies aka Zokhuma has carved himself as a firm fan favorite with his criss-cross between soundscapes you’ve never heard—think frantic, chopped-up African beats or moodier, experimental electronica—and soundscapes that are all too familiar, his sensibilities have a way of putting any audience at ease. As does his infectious energy behind the console. Well known in cult progressive metal circles in India for his earlier work songwriting and playing guitar for Goddess Gagged, we caught up with the maverick producer ahead of his new ep Trice.

Hi Arman. Thanks for talking to us. Congrats on your new release Trice. It sounds quite versatile and catchy. Could you tell us how long were you working on this and the inspiration behind it ?

Thank you!!! I think i'd have to say the main inspiration for this EP was actually a piece of gear which is the NOVATION PEAK. Sanaya AKA Sandunes was leaving town for a bit and suggested I borrow and play with it for a bit. So late one evening I plugged this little beast in and ended up spending the whole night just recording bits out of it. . I was really blown away with how much it could do, how easy it was and how much fun I was having . The main parts of Miles to Go and 10 past 12 were actually written on that same night . Those tracks took about 3-4 months to complete and another month or so to mix. Trice was actually an older song idea I had started in April and had reached a dead end with . But I decided to run the midi parts through the peak and it just brought a whole bunch of new ideas and life to it. I really liked the percussion sections in that song but had initially felt the rest was a bit dull. So when it came back into my life I was stoked to see it cross the finish line and be ready to walk into the world. I think the EP is a reflection of certain moments in your life, that have a physical memory attached to it. Little passages of time etched into memory forever.

As we mentioned, Trice is quite versatile. Your previous releases had a more electro/bass oriented flavour. Was it a decision that grew over time to expand to your sonic palette or are you still discovering your niche?

I think the decision was actually to make the last EP more focused on that sound. I wanted to have some tracks that I could play in a heavier dance floor section and that led to CODE . My release before that was Hearts + Fields, which was very soft and journey based . That way I think TRICE is a midway between H+F and CODE . It's always been easier for me to make dreamy melody focused songs. where as making more a hard hitting dance track always takes more time and practice. I often write tracks that end up being 9-12 minutes , with evolving melodic bits that I have to shorten and re arrange so that it's not just one part after another after another. I'm not focusing on trying to develop a sound more just finish musical ideas. and eventually i think through the practices i use and reflection over a larger body of work , i will discover what my sound is.

What is your personal favorite from Trice and why?

I've always been a little partial to Miles To Go. That baby just came out so easily. i had the main sliding arp melody playing for hours and just jamming with that and different drum patterns. I'm also quiet happy with the story it tells, and how you kinda have to go through the entire thing before you reach my favorite part which is the end .

You’ve been quite involved since the beginning of alternative/leftfield/bass electronic scene in India since its rise a little over a decade ago. How has your experience been so far ? Do you foresee more interesting artists coming up shaping the future of the scene in India?

I wouldn't say I've been in it very long. I've been doing music for a bit longer with my Band. but i fell into the rabbit hole of electronic music when i discovered Drum n Bass. I like finding out about the roots of it and where I come from the culture and evolution. It's relatively new in India but that's what makes it so exciting. I feel like it's a child who is going through a growth spurt and about to be a teenager , discovering its tastes and passions. There's so many interesting new producers and tracks coming out. India is going to bring a lot of focus on itself in the coming years. With so many more people getting into the creative side of it. There will be a steady stream of Magnificent music flowing . I just hope we grow in a way that we can lift each other and also recognise the power in empowering each other. I also like to say it's been so encouraging to go play newer cities that are not the regular metropolitans and see that the audience there is growing and very much appreciative of different musical tastes.

In short , describe your production process. Any goto synth/software/tools?

I usually start with a melody or drum idea that keeps getting built on. Sometimes the idea might start from a sound design tutorial or just something I'm trying to learn. I use mostly soft synths like Omnisphere, Arturia Dx 7. A lot of Abletons in built instruments and effects like the sampler/ simpler , Drum buss, Overdrive. they're so easy and efficient.

Are you involved in any other projects besides music?

I just started playing guitar with this amazing artist named Raftaar, playing guitar as a part of his live shows. He makes a mix of Hindi Hip hop, Bollywood, Pop and it's been incredible to enter this other space that is very refreshing for me, and also work and hang out with some genuine and hard working people. But apart from that its just music. I really should find another hobby.

Your most memorable gig in India and outside so far?

There's been a couple of incredible ones. Magnetic fields last year, A new years sunrise set in Goa at Vaayu in 2018, Boxout.FM party last year . I haven't played outside much but playing at Dimensions festival a few years ago was my first proper experience and it was very memorable.

Your favorite Indian artist(s)?

Sandunes, Oceantied , Yung Raj, Frame/Frame , Nicholson aka lands, Parekh + Singh , Disco puppet, 3 oscillators, Kumail, Ox7gen. ask me again in a few months and there will be another list

A track that you would love to remix?

John Scatman - The Scatman

It’s been nice to get to know of your journey and we appreciate you taking the time to speak with this. To end this one a lighter note, please share with us two tracks from your playlist that you would put on repeat.

Home - Caribou
It'll all be over - Supreme Jubilees

Listen to Zokhuma’s - Trice Ep

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