Hailing from Bengaluru, Kunaal Gurbaxani is the man behind Gurbax. With his latest track ‘Aghori’ reaching #1 in the Electronic Music Charts on iTunes and also #68 across on genres on the same platform, this bass – head Dj/Producer has been cooking up some really exciting things in his den. We had a chance to go over to his studio in the heart of the city in Bangalore and have a quick chat with him.
Q:We notice a guitar, a keyboard and what seems like a very interesting set of musical influences. What were your influences musically growing up and have you learnt music formally, what’s the journey been like?
I think my oldest memory of music goes back to when I was 11 or 12 years old, sitting on the swings with my friends at the local park after school and yelling out all the lyrics to ‘In The End’ by Linkin Park haha.
Around the 8th & 9th standard, I went through a huge punk rock/emo phase – think Sum 41, Fountains of Wayne, Fallout Boy, Panic at the Disco, etc. Which slowly graduated into the Chilli Peppers/Nirvana, harder rock bands like System of a Down, Korn, Limp Bizkit & finally to thrash metal with the likes of Lamb of God, Megadeth & Metallica during my last few years of high school (around the time I started heavily getting into guitar).
Q:At what point did you decide to do this full time and was convincing your family tough?
Well I had internally decided to do it full time as soon as I had finished up a music production course at this school called Dubspot in New York City back in the summer of 2014. That summer was one of the most transformative periods of my life. In 90 days, I went from someone with zero direction in life to having a mission & a vision for how I saw myself creating a lasting impact on the world. Convincing my dad came much later, I had to slowly start sowing the seeds by telling him I wanted to get into the music business through events (instead of dropping the ‘Dad I want to be a DJ’ bomb haha). I somehow managed to convince him to let me move back to India after graduating engineering college on the premise that I’d start an event company. But on coming back, I ended up working full-time at a web-based radio company & parallelly started playing shows, producing & hustling my way into the music industry as an artist.
Q: What’s the biggest difference you find when you made your transition from a Live musician to a Dj/Producer?
You know, I don’t really regard myself as a live musician. I did play the guitar while I was in school & do a few small shows, but I really don’t have any glamorous rockstar-level tales. And even more so, I predominantly just performed covers. Ableton was actually what opened the doors for me to start expressing myself creatively – So to be honest, I’d really regard myself as an electronic musician who can just about get by on the guitar/piano.
Q:What do you think of the Electronic music space and the bass music space in India and where do you see it going?
I’ve been doing this in Bangalore for about 3.5 years and I can definitively say that the bass music scene now, is leagues ahead from what it was in 2014 (when I started throwing Bangalore’s first trap/dubstep/electro-hip hop weekly event at this club called Sanctum). With the emergence of trap & obviously the rise of Indian bass giants like Nucleya, Teri Miko, etc. – the lines are beginning to blur between pop & bass music, which is an absolute necessity for the audience to grow. I really feel like the best way to predict these trends is to see what the college kids are listening to & I can tell you for a fact that the coolest kids in each of these big cities are already tired of the same-old regurgitated big-room sound & looking for what’s next. There’s just such an immense amount of diversity and room for forward-thinking production styles in bass music that it’s bound to take over here in India sooner than later.
Q: Which artists do you follow locally and internationally?
Ah way too many to name. Internationally – Pretty Lights, Gramatik, Big Gigantic, RL Grime, Graves, Troyboi, Wuki, Che Ecru, Bassnectar, etc. Locally – RAKA, Mr. Doss, Seven & Seven, Sickflip, RajaKumari, Divine, etc.
Q:How would you describe the sound of Gurbax?
That Old School New School Vintage Disco Retro Hip Hop Dance Revolutionary New Sound.. 😉
Q: Tell us a bit about Heady Cuts and how it came together?
Heady Cuts is a compilation/mixtape/EP of every single sound that first inspired me to get into electronic music. Each track presents an entirely different shade in the palette of my influences. Tracks like ‘Nightro’, ‘Atlanta, My Love..’ & ‘Get it’ bringing out my deep-rooted affinity for dubstep infused with funk, hip hop & soul. Tracks like ‘Aghori’ & ‘Boom Shankar’ bring out that raw, bass-heavy mystique with an Indian twist that I just love throwin’ down to. The EP really has it all.
Q: Very shortly after the release of Aghori you released a video alongside which is a rad visual experience and you’ve done the same with your previous track ‘Boom Shankar’ the YouTube hits for which almost touch a million views. Tell us what’s the idea & importance behind doing a track + video when you release music independently and also how does that add quantifiable value to you as an artist.
I think what’s more important than just doing a video for the sake of adding ‘brand value’ is to have a strong concept behind it. I had a very clear vision appear in my head while creating Boom Shankar, which allowed the music video making process to have a solid direction from the very beginning. The same goes with Aghori. The value comes from being able to create a sort of visual stamp in people’s heads – exactly like how musicians strive for elusive melody just sticks in everyone’s mind.
Q: What’s on your playlist these days?
Lots of chill vibe-y shit. I’ve been really into this futuristic, r&b and soul infused hip-hop sound with artist like Che Ecru, 6LACC, Aftertheparty,etc. Basically the Soullection vibe. Tokimonsta’s new album is sick too.
Q: Favourite cuisine and cheat food?
Chinese probably. I’m a sucker for good Chicken Fried Rice J
Q: 3 things you will always find with Gurbax while touring
My travel pillow, a strong coffee & headphones!
Q: What’s the craziest compliment you’ve gotten so far from your fans?
That one of my songs was their mom’s ring-tone lol
Q: What does the future have in store for Gurbax and what can your fans expect?
Lots of touring, some absolutely massive festival announcements, couple of new remixes and starting work on the Aghori music video.