Sunday, 2 October 2011

Gods Robots Interview

Gods Robots is a collaboration between San Francisco's Janaka Selekta and Taamara from Mumbai. Together they are fusing reggae, dub-step & electronica with classical Indian and soulful western vocals.

1) Being based in two different continents how did the Gods Robot project come about?

Surprisingly fast. The time difference makes it possible to work 24 hours (Shri does not sleep so it makes it even easier :)). Instrumentals that I send to Shri (Taamara) at night San Francisco time makes it to Shri in the morning in Mumbai. She will send back vocals by the time I check my mail in the morning. However, we are both looking forward to working on a song while we are both physically in the same space.

2) Taamara you’ve tended to work within the Asian electronica scene in India. What inspired you to work in this field as opposed to the classical industry?

I’ve been learning classical music for quite some time; attending seminars, lectures, concerts etc. It’s a beautiful form but for me these cross cultural collaborations and this coming together of various styles is equally interesting. To see the purity of classical music taking shape in the ideas of musicians from different backgrounds is a process that gives me as much bliss as the process of learning the art form. It’s more learning for me as well since I grew up listening to all kinds of music. So the distinction between forms doesn’t exist for me now.

3) Janaka your currently living in San Francisco where there seems to be an abundance of world fusion artists. How would you compare the scene there to the UK?

I believe the scenes in both parts of the world have gone through a similar arc as people have become familiar with sound. When I stopped putting on 'Dhamaal' and ' WORLDY' shows in San Francisco in 2007, after a 9 year run of monthly events, we were averaging 1400 attendees. For a big city San Francisco is tiny. On that basis alone it is amazing that such a large scene existed. Much like the UK music scene now 'world music' (for lack of a better word) elements have made their way into all genres of music. The newness has gone in both scenes but it has left a deep imprint.

4) Taamara when freestyling with dj’s are your performances completely impromptu or do you have a selection of prepared lyrics which you drop according to the tempo of the music at the time?

It depends upon the artist actually, who I’m playing with. In some cases the jam-sessions are overwhelming and we decide to just keep it open-ended and impromptu. At other times, the structured, perfect and rehearsed act feels and sounds great. It also depends on the venue; you can’t have an impromptu session at all places. My lyrics move according to the plan. During impromptu I drop things once in a while according to the tempo but most of the time it’s something that I have already prepared.

5) Is the collaboration solely a recording project or are there any plans for live performances?

We will be performing together in a number of India's cities in January! The songs have been parted out in Ableton so that I can trigger scenes or individual patterns using the APC40 midi controller. These elements and Taamara's vocals are then dub-able using the APC40. The level of control of each elements makes it very flexible in terms of creating a dynamic live performance. As Mighty Dub Killaz I have been honing these techniques with Papa Roads on the mic for most of 2009.

6) Janaka although there’s a range of genres fused with Indian percussions and melodies, there’s a strong dub reggae element to your music. Are all the fx created on software nowadays or do you still employ the mixing desk when producing dub?

The dubbing mostly comes at the mix stage of the production cycle so most of it is done using software. However, I like the sound of hardware and have a Virus C, KorgX50, MicroKorg, Soundcraft 24 channel desk and various effects units like the Korg Koaspad, they help to define a richer and heavier sound.

7) Are you planning to release any material for this project in the near future?

The way that people consume music has changed so dramatically over the last 5 years. We have an albums worth of material that has been developed with the intention of performing it live. There will be a point at which selling the album will also be a focus but we are intent on getting the word out via our stage show. We do however have a facebook page (press the title to go there) where you can listen to our songs as they get created, literally. Reminds me of the Metalheadz documentary, they talk about songs being completed in the afternoon, pressed onto acetate and played at night. In the digital world it is rendered to audio and upload.

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