An in-depth chat with the technically brilliant SHFT

by Fathima Shayek
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In our very first interview of 2023, we chat with one of the nation’s finest artists – SHFT from Qilla Records, in an in-depth interview about his music, muses and latest EP.

Words : Fathima Shayek

1. Hi Vipul! We’re excited about the new EP. Tell us a little about it and the theme/process
behind it?

I made a bunch of music in the last couple of years to play in my sets. After testing them out extensively, I decided to release these four tracks which I found the strongest. They were all made in a day or two with certain ideas that triggered inspiration. The first thing I do once inspiration strikes is try to give shape to the idea in that very moment before I lose the momentum.

2. Where did it all first begin? What was the first track or artist that steered you into making music?

It all started in 2007 when I was doing computer engineering. I used to go to bars in the day time, just so that I could listen to the music that I liked on a bigger sound system. That’s how I was drawn towards Dj’ing which naturally made me realise that I need to make my own music. So Dj’ing and production started together for me. There was no one particular track that steered me but I do remember getting inspired by a lot of music from this deep house label called Plastic City and an album from Dousk called D.I.Y.

3. You moved to Goa from Hyderabad a couple years ago. How would you describe the Techno culture in both places?

I actually moved to Goa about 6 months back so I am relatively new here. I’m still exploring and seeing how it works here. The biggest difference that is evident to me is that Goa is very seasonal while Hyderabad is a bit more consistent with gigs throughout the year.

4. Besides doing A&R for Qilla Records, you also started Audiosol with Madhav offering mixing and mastering services. Tell us a little about the company. How did your stint with mastering begin?

I was always a technical nerd, so I have been mixing music for over 10 years which has been a learning process for me. I still learn everyday, trying to add techniques to my arsenal so I can deliver better results consistently. In the earlier days before AudioSol I was only helping producers trying to make their music sound better. When Covid started I had a lot of time to do some intensive research towards mixing and mastering and started practicing the same. I told Madhav about it and he was very supportive of this idea. Madhav is a creative visionary who helped me understand the bigger picture about music and how it makes you feel. Ever since then, we have been building AudioSol together, one step at a time.

5. There’s so much social media hype affecting the electronic music ecosystem. Do you think the art/quality is getting dissolved. Is it about the music anymore?

I think it’s quite sad to see this happen. There are still some people who are all about the music but they are only a few left. I hope to keep pushing towards quality instead of the hype and hopefully things will improve in future.

6. You’re one of the country’s finest artists in the field. Yet, you don’t seem to want any self glory. Why?

Firstly thank you so much for your kind words. It does motivate me to keep doing what I do and try to do it even better. I personally don’t care about self glory since I did not start music because of that. Music is like therapy for me. It’s another world where I start wandering to find amazing landscapes. I am a private person and an introvert who likes to communicate with the world through music.

7. Would you call yourself a competitive person? What drives you to work harder?

I believe in healthy competition. I like to do better everyday. Ofcourse, when I hear someone doing something better, I want to figure it out and know how it’s done. This is the only driving force for me.

8. What has been the biggest hurdle along your musical journey? How did you overcome it?

In the beginning I was often told that you don’t look like a DJ, haha. It was this mentality that you have to dress or act a certain way otherwise you have no future. I just kept my head down, didn’t focus on any of that and kept on making music.

9. What is your take on analog vs digital?

I think they both have their own place. Digital is precise but has some drawbacks and it’s the same with analog. If you compare digital with analog’s strength then digital is going to fall flat. I think it’s best to identify and use both for what they bring to the table in the best way possible.

10. What’s one unusual track you heard recently that blew your mind away? What makes it unique?

There is no single track that comes to my mind. There is a lot of good stuff but listening to Amon Tobin just blew my mind. Technically his music is so mysterious and unique. I learn a lot by listening to him.

11. What track would you play in the following situations:

While driving : Aaron Parks – Invisible Cinema
In your deathbed : Beethoven Moonlight Sonata 1st Movement
Mid-set at your favourite club : SHFT – Dilithium

12. How does the future look?

Who knows, we’ll find out in due time.

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Fathima Shayek is a writer/filmmaker with a quirky taste in music and an unhealthy obsession with cats.
Follow her works on : @fshayekfilms

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