What’s eating music producer Profound?

“Let’s get real about things,” Profound tells me, before launching into a tirade about the many, many things wrong with independent music in India. It doesn’t take much encouragement; he likes to speak his mind, rattling off diatribe after scathing diatribe faster than I can process. But we’ll get to it. The 24-year-old hip-hop producer, whose birth name is Amandeep Singh Multani, has a new EP, Fresh (stylised as “fre$h”), which is his way of expressing those same thoughts through beats. In fact, he’d much rather call Fresh a beat tape. “That was the idea of Fresh. I didn’t want to spend months working on a song. I would just sit down and write beats. I had 25-30 of them, of which I picked out seven,” says the Delhi-based producer, who is originally from Chandigarh. It’s a sample-oriented release, rooted in diffident, low-key, down-tempo, lo-fi electronic music and a clear hip-hop aesthetic.

Making beats

Profound has used a lot of samples from Japanese music, getting influenced by the music from the region in a big way, and especially being enamoured by how ahead of its time it has always sounded. “I wanted it to have that whole ‘profound’ element, where the music is insightful and futuristic; it has to have depth,” he says. “I feel this beat tape has changed my way of production forever. I’m not going to sit down and ‘write music’; I’m just going to make beats. That way, subconsciously, it’s more from the heart. Where you stop thinking about it. I could literally be making a beat on the pot in the bathroom.”

Further, hidden beneath the lo-fi sounds lie coded messages through sampled a cappella voices. “Let’s not emphasise too much on the details,” he asks. He wants listeners to decipher those cryptic little shout-outs and missives embedded in the music on their own. He does tell me, though, that a lot of it has to do with the anger he’s felt in the past. “I’ve been angry at the scene. I don’t want to be one of those producers who claims the Indian scene is amazing, or that I’m glad to be part of it. I mean, I am glad. But the scene is lame as f**k. It’s phony. For example, why is a producer signed to a big label broke?” He stresses that there’s enough talent in India, “f**king truckloads of it”, but that it’s not shining. Profound remembers listening to producer Big City Harmonics, and how the music wasn’t really appreciated by people around, to the point where many of those gigs were practically deserted. A lot of artists, he feels, are falling into the trap of sycophancy with influential labels and agencies within the community for short-term commercial success, at the cost of the music itself.

An unreasonably commercial gig he played in Bengaluru comes to mind, where people asked him to get off for not being loud and thumpy enough. This single-minded focus on monetising your craft within the indie electronic music circuit bothers him. “I don’t want things to get so polluted by this money-making vibe. My idea is to not be part of the Indian scene in the long run. Yes, India is my roots; I’ll always be repping India. But why be the king fish in a small pond when you have the ocean to go to?” he says.

Sonic reflections

Another pet peeve of Profound’s, since we’re on the subject, happens to be the state of Indian hip-hop. It’s been much hyped and lauded, and he acknowledges that there are positives. He’s tried collaborating with a couple of hip-hop producers in the past as well, to mixed results. But he’s not so sure about the rappers. “I don’t follow Hindi or Punjabi rap. They’re such amazing languages. The way the raps are being presented in these languages, it doesn’t sound good. It sounds crass. Rap is supposed to be poetry, wisdom, insight, future. But the first thing you pick up from the west is the gunda culture? It’s supposed to save the streets, not make them worse. We’ve gone past that time. We have a certain responsibility toward depicting our era, our generation, and what we go through,” he says.

Let’s be clear though: none of this is mindless ranting. Regardless of whether one agrees with his points of view, Profound has spent time formulating the thoughts and opinions he speaks. His outspoken nature, such an intrinsic — and fun — element of hip-hop, comes from a place of great rumination and reflection. He’s only 24, but he’s been producing music for almost a decade now. As a kid, he tells me, he didn’t go out much. It was often lonely. “I think my best hobby, instead of discovering video games, was discovering music software,” he says. He studied sonic arts in London, but he decided to leave the course in a year. “It wasn’t my cup of tea. I didn’t want to spend so much money on the course, so I came back.”

On his return, he worked on an EP for a whole year, after which he discarded it. He experimented with a lot of different music, before eventually returning to hip-hop. His first EP was Returning Rituals , followed by Faded , both written under the ‘Profound’ moniker. And it’s where he’s found his voice. He’s done DJ sets in the past, but he now intends to do only live ones using the Roland SP-404, a discontinued device which came out around 12 years ago — a small, lo-fi sampler which only has a slot for a memory card, and is considered this really rare, very cool device. “Producer have these big sets now. I don’t know… the idea is to have a super small sampler and show what you can do with that.”

The artwork on the album, too, reflects a different side of him. The bright purple tones are offset by female imagery, worked on by Jayesh Joshi from Delhi. “I’m using female energy on my artwork. I’ve been depressed at times in life, and I feel female energy has really saved me throughout. It’s motivated me to the point where I didn’t even realise it. I didn’t have a father around. My mum raised me, along with two of my sisters.” Women have, thus, played a very important role in his life. The idea of female energy, and support, runs through his music, as also the art.

To hear Fresh log onto: http://releases.knowmad

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 4:53:52 am |