Ahimsa from Australia talks to Higher Plain Music all about how he makes his music in his own bedroom, what it means to be a bedroom musician and some tips for musicians starting out in the huge world of music.
So your EP “Qualia” is now out in the public for everyone to enjoy. How do you feel about it now its done?
It feels great, a lot of time and effort went into making it so it’s very cool to be able to have a ‘physical’ final product to show for my endeavours, I actually thought that I would never get it done. It’s a great relief to get it out there, the trouble is that I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to music, no matter how good it is I’m still not going to be absolutely 100% happy with it, but I think that the EP is the best I could have done under the circumstances and I’m extremely pleased with it.
What got you originally into making post-rock music? Do you have any influences?
I can’t sing so I’ve always focused on writing instrumental music. For a long time I was under misconception that a song had to have lyrics, otherwise it would only be considered as being ‘half done’, and I thought that I only had a bunch of ‘half done’ songs. That was until I had my mind blown by Mono in Sydney. Not a word was sung at that gig but it was one of the most powerful experiences of my life and changed the way I approached music.
As for influences I’ve got stacks of them, Cloudkicker would be the main one, not necessarily for his music, but rather the way he goes about making it. He does everything himself as well, in his spare time, and releases it for free, which is very much the philosophy that I work with. Musically I love emotional tunes, bands like Hammock, Mono, Mogwai, Her Name is Calla, Rosetta, Isis. I’m also really in to the European ‘Stoner-Rock’ scene; Colour Haze, 35007, The Machine, Monkey 3, My Sleeping Karma etc.
What to you is the most important thing to think about when making a new track?
I don’t really think a whole lot when writing music, if it works it works and if it doesn’t it’s no big deal. If I had to pick the main thing it would be the emotion I get from the particular track, I want to feel something from the music, and I want others to feel it as well. I’m not a very emotional person and music is my outlet (cliché I know), so it’s important to me that the track represents my feelings the way I want it to.
Now you’re a bedroom artist. Explain to us how you set up your equipment. It must be quite a difficult task to do everything!
It is pretty difficult, but I’m still in the very early stages of learning about the whole process and it’s still very exciting for me. I’m not really a ‘tech head’ in terms of equipment, I have a shitty little bedroom practice amp (which I believe dates from the mid 15th century), to which I hook up a loop station and a Boss ME-50 effects pedal. I use these to write the majority of my music, then when I’m happy with that I’ll plug my guitar/keyboard directly into my computer for recording. This is a nightmare in terms of sound engineering due to all the extra background noise, my next investment will most likely be an analogue to digital converter/interface. As for the ‘studio’ it is my bedroom.
Do you enjoy having utter creative freedom as your a bedroom artist?
Yes and no. It’s definitely good being able to get everything sounding exactly how I want it to. It reminds me a little bit of ‘Everlong’ by the Foo Fighters, where Taylor Hawkins did about 100 drum takes, none of which Dave Grohl was happy with. Dave then did it himself in one take; sometimes you know exactly what you want and everyone else can piss off, and that’s when it’s the best way to go.
However sometimes it’s very lonely, there’s no one to bounce ideas off and all of your ideas have gone stale. Or no matter how hard you try you can’t get that drum fill exactly right. Sometimes you just need that extra set of ears for a fresh perspective.
How has the internet helped you in being able to be a completely independent artist?
Massively. My mum would be the only person listening to my music if it wasn’t for the internet. Platforms like Soundcloud and Bandcamp are invaluable, I personally don’t bother with hard copies anymore, it’s digital all the way. The great thing with these sites is that your music is up there forever, available anywhere in the world. It’s not only great for my music, it’s great for music in general, I’m discovering new bands every day, that would’ve been impossible 20 years ago.
Do you have any tips, advice or words of wisdom for anyone thinking of going it alone as a musician?
I’m still learning myself, I’m hoping people have words of wisdom for me!
My main tip would be just to go for it, it’s never been easier to do or cheaper due to the internet and various recording programs. There’s no need to spend weeks and thousands of dollars in a recording studio. I work on it for about an hour a day in between uni and work, and my main expenditure was $70 for the recording software (Mixcraft 6), I honestly don’t think I would want to do it if the monetary/time pressures were present. My other main tip would be to seriously consider a loop station, I was lucky and acquired on cheaply off a mate, but you can get decent ones for $150. It’s cool because you can jam out ideas in real time just noodling around with a guitar, and write a whole song with 5 or 6 layers. Probably 95% of my music has come from this method.
What will be next on the agenda for Ahimsa?
I’m currently writing tracks for an album which will hopefully be released by next year. I think it will have a bit more of an Isis or Tool vibe to it, with some Mogwai influenced piano melodies mixed in. I’m moving away slightly from ambient keyboard soundscapes and focusing more on heavier guitar based tracks. I’ve got a habit of changing my mind with regards to this stuff but, based on how I’m feeling at the time, so at this early point I can’t really comment on exactly how it will turn out.
I’m also starting to do live ambient gigs using the loop station and effects pedal (it’s amazing how many sounds you can achieve from that thing!). I’m using a completely different set of songs for this, most of which are without drums and consist of ambient volume swells and tripped out, delay soaked riffs a la Hammock. I’m dabbling with the idea of working on a separate ambient only project.
Lastly, if you were able to jam with any other musical artist, who would you choose and why? (alive or dead)
That’s a tough one. I’ve got a couple in mind, first and foremost being Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains, by far my favourite band. I’d also like to jam with Stefan Koglek from ‘Colour Haze’, he’s a criminally underrated guitarist and songwriter. Danny Carey from Tool is also high on that list, simply because I’ve always wanted to meet God.
Thanks to Ahimsa for chatting us HPM and we’ll be keeping up with his future works!