Hello Sun Deep how are you?
I am doing wonderful. Just taking life one day at a time.
Congratulations on the release of “Sifnos” how does it feel?
Thank you! It feels good to release a piece of art. The feeling of releasing something new never changes. Or it hasn’t changed for me so far. I love putting out new works of art in the world.
It’s a five track EP, what’s the story behind it?
The story is long but I will keep it short. My lady and I went to Sifnos, a beautiful Greek Island, in September of 2019. At that time in my life, I was working a full-time job as a Geophysicist and was on track to pursue a PhD in the same field. Our culture reveres education and academic/doctorate escapades. The cultural bug in me made me feel like I had to get a PhD. Honestly speaking, I do enjoy learning new topics and academic ventures. But I knew that wasn’t the thing that made me truly happy at that time. When we were on the Island just living our lives, everything came into perspective for me. All we did on that island was hop on a moped and go eat or chill on the beach. It was my time away from work and academia and I had just started making music. I knew I loved making music even though I was so new to it. That getaway made me rethink my life and I decided to drop my PhD thoughts and focus completely on music. There was something about being with your own thoughts and with someone who is more than a wife, but a best friend. The long conversations, the beautiful silence when sitting and staring at the night sky, the mingling with the locals. Just so many emotions and peace of mind which is what I felt when making music. So the tracks on Sifnos are ones I made around that time and beyond and the themes of self-love and identity subconsciously went into the music.
What’s your favourite track from it?
“Searching” is my favorite track from the album. That is a track I made in 2020 after Finite Galaxy was formed. It has my FG partner in crime Flo St8 as a feature. By now most people who know my production know that I like to break rules with random beat changes and long intros. For this song, I gave Flo St8 one task. ‘Write a verse so good that it makes my soul move. If it doesn’t, I will delete the verse”. I already knew how good of a poet Flo St8 is but that song was special to me. When he came in to record the verse, I felt his vocals into my soul.
The focus track is “Mind Games”, what was the catalyst for this track?
I wanted to have “Mind Games” as the focus track because it is a quintessential style of beats I love to produce. Lots of beat changes, Indian instrumentation and soundtrack style structure. Lot of times the catalyst for a track usually starts with a pad I am playing or a sample I start with. This time, it was the vocal chant sample that caught my attention. It sounded like a prayer and so I started layering it with more instrumentation to make it fuller and more of a hiphop meditation feel. For the third part of the song, the tanpura that comes in really escalates the beat into something that puts you in a trance. When I make beats, I see imagery in my mind. This beat is about the games that the mind plays and sometimes it is chanting meditative hymns and other times it is going down the highway screaming with the windows open or standing in the middle of time-square and watching the people pass you at 2x the normal speed with neon lights flaring down and cars zipping past in the foreground.
You are an artist of Indian heritage from Oklahoma, how did it all begin for you?
I remember taking tabla drum lessons when I was 11 years old. I took it for a few weeks and gave up. I was more interested in enjoying the outdoors with friends and playing football. I didn’t take up any music after that. I came to the U.S. in 2006 and landed in New Jersey. Still, I never really did much with music. I self taught myself some guitar chords here and there because my brother was into it. I bought a drum kit when I was in college but yet again, didnt do much with it. I came to Oklahoma in 2013 for my master’s degree and got a job in 2016 and stayed in Oklahoma. In 2018 my lady took me to ‘The Roots’ concert and I saw the DJ for the band playing the lightblock. That intrigued me. I ordered a Novation launchkeys midi keyboard in the break of the show. That is basically how music started for me. I play everything by ear. I was always an avid music listener, just didnt partake in creating any of my own. That concert and introduction to underground hiphop changed my life. Here I am today, enjoying every second of making music.
What did you listen to growing up?
Being born in India in the 90s, Indian movie music and pop music is all we listened to. Some international music that filtered through to our small town was things such as Mambo No.5, Backstreet Boys, NSync etc. I also remember listening to Numb by Linkin Park when I was in highschool. I used to dance when I was in high school so I used to love all the dancey bollywood songs and pop songs that made their rounds in the early 2000’s. When I came to the U.S., I was introduced to more pop music on the radio. A friend of mine gave me a folder of 1000 random songs and I found some good music from there. Porcupine Tree was a band that I still love and I remember listening to their song in 2007.
Were there any particular artists that made you decide to go down this route?
As I mentioned before, “The Roots” sparked my creativity for HipHop. A lot of underground hip hop figures followed after that. Atmosphere, Aesop Rock, MF DOOM, Deca etc. Then Indian hip hop started gaining traction. I started listening to great underground artists like Hanumankind, Prabh Deep, Seedhe Maut, Smokey The Ghost etc. In beat production, producers like 9th wonder, Deca, Madlib, Apollo Brown, Prabh Deep, Flying Lotus have been a huge inspiration.
You are a rapper as well, how do you approach your lyric writing?
I want to say it is “random” at best. However, there is probably some method to the madness. When I am writing/rapping, I am inspired by writing about subject matter that speaks to me. I usually stick to topics that deal with mental wellness and self-identity in this crazy world. My philosophy is that if ONE person in this world can learn from my mistakes or my dark times and decide to do things differently and make their lives better, I have succeeded as an artist. I take sort of the same approach to my instrumentals. Music for me is therapy and it will always show in my production or lyricism.
COVID had a major impact on the creative industry what kept you motivated?
When COVID hit, I was on my almost 2 1⁄2 year of starting my journey as a producer. Our office instituted a work from home schedule for a few months. This gave me a chance to work on my music a lot more in the evening as I was not as mentally drained as I didn’t have to drive to the office or interact with people in person. I started making so many more beats per week and also sent them out to local artists who I liked. From there, one artist hit me back and we collabed on an album in 2020. After that another artist reached out to me and he and I made around 35 songs in a few months which he released as a part of “one song per week for the whole year” challenge he was doing. It was a wild but fun time. So I kept my creativity going through the pandemic and maybe that was my escape from the awfulness going around the world.
The last two years have been a time to reflect, what have you learned about yourself?
I have learned that it is okay to not make music all the time. I am one of those people who will get into something and do it incessantly. Through the pandemic and being with my own thoughts, I started understanding that I don’t always have to be making beats or songs. I can take a break and do other things. In these pandemic times, mental health is such a big issue. I have dealt with it myself even before the pandemic. I am prone to anxiety and depression and the pandemic triggered that a little but as I said, I kept making music to keep me sane. However, there is always a flip side to the coin. The more music I kept making I started being hard on myself and my lyricism. I kept forgetting that I started just a few years back and I have gained decent traction in those years locally. So I learned to take it easy and to work on mental stability. Good music will follow when your mind is centered.
Did you pick up any new skills?
I have been learning drums and guitar. I wouldn’t say I am decent enough to start whipping out the ol 6 string at the next live show, but it has given two more weapons in the arsenal to make music if needed.
You live in Oklahoma, what are your three favourite things about it?
1.I like how cheap it is to live here. I guess not anymore with the real estate prices going through the roof but still a great affordable city. Plus it is also a great city for young folks.
2. Oklahoma has some good food.
3. The music scene here is good and is growing exponentially.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Listening to the new Deca and Seedhe Maut album. Other than that, the usual suspects. Porcupine Tree, Lucky Ali, Deca, Homeboy Sandman, Prabh Deep and a few more.
What are you looking forward to doing next?
We have started work on our new Finite Galaxy (bilingual duo) album. Really looking forward to recording some of the verses I have written down. It is going to be a good album. Other than that, I am working on a deluxe “Sifnos” album with 10-15 songs on it. Hopefully I can also get vinyls for both.
Special thanks to Claire Donzelli, Liberty Music PR