We at ThatDoesntSoundRight reviewed (and liked) A/J’s brainy brand of fusion-guitar music early last year. Now, he’s back with what seems to be an even denser and more thoroughly thought out album, called Colors, which he will be releasing later this year. Check out this very in-depth (and yes, intellectually stimulating) interview that we had with him.
TDSR: So, Hi there!
TDSR: You’ve been promoting your album online on Facebook for a while now, and I have heard a couple of your tracks. How far along is your album and when are you releasing it?
A/J: Yep, I realize its been about 3 months later than I originally thought I could release it. ;-) But, as the teaser video says, it’ll be around mid-September. I’m adding finishing touches. All tracks done
TDSR: Can’t wait, man, the teaser sounded great.
A/J: Will be 10 tracks in this one. Hey, thanks that’s very semi final, and only fews for some 4 of 5 tracks
TDSR: I see. Can you take us, in brief, through the concept behind the album and the tracks? [FOR THOSE INTERESTED, DOWNLOAD AJIT'S EXPLANATION SHEET FOR Colours]
A/J: Sure. It all started out as an abstract idea. It was obvious that music is emotional content for the listener. We all go thru this theoretical movement about various scales and modes and moods. So major scales are generally bright and happy and minors are more moody and dark. And certain modes like Lydian have a kind of ethereal feel to it while the mixolydian or dominants have a peppy feel and so on. Well, while getting on to learning em I was kinda thrown on this idea, what about musical keys? Are there any connections to emotions?
A/J: I did not have an answer so I started searching and reading up was interesting to find some point of views from classical era
Mind it! each one had a different POV
A/J: Some names: Schubart, Castel, Scryabin, Kircher
TDSR: Yeah. On the point of POV, I was reading a book by Kandinsky, in which he mentions how artists in the late 19th century used to use ‘violet’ instead of ‘blue’ as a point to reference for sadness. ‘Blue’ only came along later with early 20th century music. I find your attribution of blue as ‘reflection, nostalgia, neutrality and patience’ interesting, as it breaks from the ‘how blue can you get’ cliche. Comments?
A/J: Yep, meaning what the color red could be mean anger to one while just plain passion to the other. Yea, I found it quite a maze.
And not to forget, I wanted to connect the mood to color to KEY.
TDSR: So three things connected.
A/J: So that research on Colour to Key was a maze the only conclusion I could get to was to take similes and not get too anal with detail. So, the next work was to identify Colours to emotions
A/J: Well, that’s a subject that’s been more researched and automatically had more solid inferences.But hey, for this one I decided to keep out of the musical inferences completely, as I wanted a plain a simple “psychology of colours” perspective. That led me to a many colour chart, but a few of them especially by some art universities had similarities. So I amalgamated and used the most common “psychology of colours”
A/J: the final trick was to find “common words” or thoughts between the three and CONNECT
There was of course a fourth complexity. You remember the demos I’d sent to you right?
TDSR: yes. You sent me “Violet”.
A/J: Not that. Before that, the 11 or 12 track ideas, rough ideas which you heard and wrote some kind words on your blog
TDSR: ill have to look back in my inbox :)
A/J: Yea they were forgettable ;-)
TDSR: Nah nah. It was just a while back. For our viewers, the link is as follows:
A/J: well like a fool I thought it would be easier to work on existing ideas rather than come up with new ones. That’s when the dates went haywire, and I went bonkers. ;-)
A/J: Yep. I took upon myself a task that had to connect that crazy alpha logic to my tracks ideas
A/J: The theory I came up with is from existing information, but its an amalgam of various sources. So its not original. The music is original, ‘cause so far people had THEORETICAL point of views on all three. But hey no one had the b#&* to actually try and execute it. Correct?
TDSR: Exactly, there are reams and reams of reading material on this, but few people apply it directly with intellectual rigour
A/J: Yep thanks for pointing that out
TDSR: Kudos, sir!
A/J: Thanks man but this is an experiment, as I suddenly evolved while working on this and I realised how we (each one of us) FEEL cant’ be generalised. Names given in any lingo to emotions is a system. But “how exactly” do we feel can’t be that generalized; its individualistic.
A/J: so I hope this album of mine throws more questions than answers
TDSR: What have you been up to between the last album and this one, that has changed your style of playing? (if at all)
A/J: Well i am a “constant learner”. The first album was done when I was about two and half years old in music :-)
TDSR: Whoa. You’ve come far, my friend.
A/J: In retrospect now that was a time I was HEAVILY into technique and flair oriented runs and licks. I went headlong with that for a while. But then I heard, I mean really intensely heard players like Alex Hutchings, Guthrie Govan and Scott Henderson. I was blown away, and so took a few steps back and started to learn “phrasing” and style, not just technique and scales. I also came to have a liking towards ringing chord tones, open string chords that kinda changed the game completely.
A/J: Now, I don’t know where I am
TDSR: But these were the influences between your first and second albums. What were your initial influences? If i may append further, why did you pick up the guitar and when?
A/J: To answer your first q: I had to study and imbibe those things into my playing, which was hard work but extremely enjoyable.
Oh original: David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler, John Petrucci, Paul Gilbert, Jeff Beck. Jeff Beck was singular in making a huge musical point in my mind
TDSR: Excellent. Do you plan to perform this material live?
A/J: Yea. This, and the older material. But I am not interested in just putting any band together to perform for the sake of performance.
I need to connect with the other musicians and the vice versa before we can make the music work. I’ve jammed with people off and on, but that connection eludes me so far.
TDSR: Have you considered joining a band aside from your solo material?
A/J: Yea. Again its about the kind of music that I would like to play.
TDSR: Which is….?
A/J: Cerebral rock or subtle fusion; not the usual take-out-your-sitar-or-tabla fusion.
TDSR: ok. Elucidate.
A/J: No offense to those doing it though.
Well, the melodic structures are important; that’s Indian.
The western way is about introducing harmonic structures to give more character to the melodies. The play of different rhythmic structures makes it more interesting. For example, I kinda love to jam on a ¾, teen taal but played in a western manner, and to mix polyrhythms.
TDSR: ok. Now. I know personally, that you work in marketing as your day job, and do music as your pet passion.
TDSR: How do you manage the life of a high flying marketing exec on the one hand, and the introspection that is required to come up with a complex music concept?
Not to mention take time out to practice.
A/J: Here’s a one liner: 24 hours is what we all have, so instead of saying, “I would like to practice” and then go and play politics, DO SOMETHING about it
It’s not so easy.
TDSR: Simple, but not easy :)
A/J: and actually, I have a great boss, so I do get time to work on material. Also, my work is about research and ideas, so in way, ideas kinda come to me every now and then. All I gotta do is make a note and work on ‘em.
TDSR: Right. It’s quite inspiring for a younger person such as myself seeing how you’ve started pretty much from scratch and managed to release two albums in a span of some three years.
A/J: Four. Not three. This October, I will be four
TDSR: Final question. Do you think there is value in exploring the tonalities in the colors between the colors you’ve explored? For instance, between red and yellow, there is a sort of vermillion.
A/J: From a perspective of emotional content, definitely (don’t know what emotion it leads to offhand tho), but from a “key” perspective, not really.
But hell, I’ve discovered different sounds of the guitar while playing on different keys. So if I keep the exploration going and work on it, it should lead somewhere (I guess)
TDSR: Right. Well, this was truly an inspiring talk with you.
A/J: My pleasure
TDSR: I hope you had half as much fun responding to it as I did in asking you questions!
A/J: How about double?
TDSR: :) Epic. feels good.
TDSR: Great, we wrap up here, then.
Check out A/J’s website HERE.
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