01. How's it going guys? Tell us something about the both of you that we can't find in your biography.
Ashwin: Going fantastic! There are times when small disagreements in the studio turn into massive arguments (sometimes continuing for days), and then we both need to take a chill pill and calm down before we get back into it again!
Ashrith: All is well in the hood! It took me a while and a lot of persuasion by Ashwin to actually get myself to like electronic music at first. I used to listen to (kid you not) a lot of bollywood before I formally got into the more electronic stuff.
02. This question might have come across you a lot, but we'd like to ask you again. What's the story behind the alias "AU" or "Audio Units" and how different are your sounds for each moniker, in terms of production and live performances?
Ashwin: To be honest, we had initially decided to call ourselves "Harmolymn", which we very soon realized was quite ridiculous sounding. There was a remix contest we had decided to take part in, and we had to finalize on a name for our project after pondering for weeks, we couldn't come up with anything half decent, until a point I was frankly frustrated spending so much time trying to think of a 'good name', I said lets just stick to 'Audio Units', like the plugins! Eventually, it's what you make of the name than what the name makes you, right?
Ashrith: As Audio Units we try to deliver a more deeper chunkier house vibe and as A U we stick to minimal/techno. As the name suggests it was an idea that emerged out of the original name, shortened to a couple of letters!
03. Do you think that the kind of music you grew up listening to affects the taste of music you develop? What were your past influences and how can we see that translate into your style now?
Ashwin: Music was always a very intrinsic part of my life, I have spent most of my childhood with the walkman headphones wrapped around my ears all day, one of the earliest tapes I remember listening to was the OST of "The Sound of Music" when I was probably 7 or 8 years old, and then went on to listening to a lot of heavy metal / rock in my teens on the likes of Cradle of Filth, Pantera, Metallica, Iron Maiden and so on, and then moved on to Hip Hop / R&B, and finally electronic music. As you can see, my taste constantly changed, it was always this curiosity of trying to understand what defined each genre for me, while fully enjoying the experience and emotions it transcended. I think, these sounds played a major part in shaping the way I was thinking, and my personality to a large extent too. At that time, I never understood it's implications on how it would influencing me, but come to think of it now when we are producing, I think you can see that my biggest influences which were funky / jacking house start to reflect in our Audio Units productions. I was also inclined towards a lot of early acid house / acid techno, along with psychedelic trance which are key influences for our A U sounds.
Ashrith: I've always somehow thrived on music, although I never got any formal training in music. Our mum was always into classical carnatic music and she could play the Veena and sing. She taught me to play riffs on an old casio keyboard I got as a birthday present which got me really intrigued. While Ashwin was into collecting and downloading and ripping music CDs all day long, and I was always interested in how music actually worked. I remember the first time when I heard BT's album "Movement in Still Life" it was like the music wrapped itself around my head and straight into my ears. It was probably the first time I started to appreciate the electronic sounds and how they all come together and create such a magical space. I started clubbing when I was a teenager at a time when soulful funky house was huge which is now a big deal in how our Audio Units sounds shape up. Acid/Psy/Techno was another space of sounds my ears thought were a delight and hence the A U vibe.
04. India's a relatively new market to electronic music, what's your role in developing the Indian electronic music culture?
Ashwin + Ashrith: As you may know, we run Beatworx Studio, which is also a DJ / Music Production training school, I've always been very passionate about teaching and sharing knowledge, I've taken it upon myself to lure as many students into the realms of underground music. Frankly, I think a lot of people are open to exploring different sounds, but they just don't know where to begin, or how to appreciate a certain style for what it is. The mainstream music always helps people discover the existence of electronic music in the first place, but always pushing them to explore more is where it all lies. But once again, I cant thank the good people like Submerge / UnMute / sLick! for having played their part in developing the culture here.
05. You have have received immense support from Indian as well as International artists alike, massive releases on various acclaimed labels, all in a relatively short time-span. Your advice to young and upcoming DJs/Producers on developing as an artist?
Ashwin: Taste. That I think is one of the most essential parts of who you are as an artist. Because this taste is what dictates what you like, how easily it influences you and what you make of it. Broaden you horizons and explore a substantial amount of sounds and styles before you decide to nail down on something, just because everyone else is doing it. Spend the most amount of your time listening, those are some of the greatest inputs you can get. As DJs, your greatest experience can come from being residents, curating your own nights, learning the art of warming up, which eventually will lead you to headline, not the other way round.
Ashrith: Use your ears. Or train them. Perseverance plays a huge role in shaping up your career as an artist. You gotta keep trying until you find that comfort zone and then urge yourself to break out of it and try something new and more challenging. Its all about frustration, breaking a sweat and moving in the right direction. Its a constant improv game as an artist, you are only as good as the last track you make or play. We find ourselves making better tracks with every project we finish because we try to improve on what we realize we missed out on in the previous one.
06. How does AU's production process work? Do you have a set method when you sit down to produce a track & are both of you together on every session?
Ashwin: Technically, nothing changes in our process whether its A U or Audio Units, we always start with a basic groove and musicality if it's an original that we're working on, for remixes its first deciding what parts we want to use. A U projects always fires up the geeks in us, wanting to twist, turn, morph and bend sounds.
Ashrith: Groove is the key player and then comes the harmonic bits. Sometimes I start a project and work on it before Ashwin joins in and gives me his take and inputs. Other times its just a jam of a plethora of instruments and we keep only the ones that we find interesting. We've recently started working on Logic X (after we gave up on Logic 9) which I think is really cool for the quality of sounds. But eventually it ends up in Ableton for arrangement and then goes back into Logic for mix-down!
07. For your remix of "Dio S - Una Happiness" on Juicebox Music, what was the thought process and what kind of direction did you want to take it?
Ashwin: We heard the parts and immediately knew which ones we wanted, I imagined a very brooding, futuristic soundscape for this. I work with this visual cue, where I listen to thinks and make up an imaginary scenario in my head and then try to put sounds to them. There was this piano hook that fascinated me the most, it sounded nice and clean, I wanted it to be the highlight of our remix, although in the original it was just a supporting part.
Ashrith: There were a few sounds I found staring me straight in the eye and poking me right in my ears, I picked them up and let the creativity flow. I'm more of a hands on kinda guy, I like to jam for sometime and figure out whats working.
You can buy 'Dio S - Una Happiness (A U Remix) via Beatport, iTunes, Junodownload or Traxsource
08. You guys are known gear junkies, what's new in your studio & live setup?
Ashwin: Finally we have a MS-20 Mini, our second synth. It's just so nice and dirty at the same time. Also in the pipe line is a Mutable Instruments Shruthi-1 synth, which is amazingly powerful for its size with tons of synthesis options.
Ashrith: We also got an APC40 which we are hoping to use for our live setup combined along with an iPad. Also loving the grittiness of the MS20, the filters on that thing are pure magic.
09. If not music, what would each of your alternate chosen career be?
Ashwin: I have never thought about that! It was always music, although I did have some interest in graphic design, animation, and hacking during my teens.
Ashrith: I would probably be a gamer given the 12-16 odd hours of Playstation I used to clock during my 12th grade boards exams. I would be a misfit if not for music!
10. Based on your social network posts, you both seem to be fans of pizza. Favorite studio snack?
Ashwin + Ashrith: Totally!
11. You were just told that the world will end in 30 mins during your DJ set, what would be your last 5 five tracks?
Ashwin + Ashrith:
Please let us include a 6th one!
- Underworld - Born Slippy
- Ame - Rej (A Hundred Birds Beatless Mix)
- ZZT - Lower State of Consciousness (Justice Remix)
- Trentemoller - Always Something Better (Trentemoller Remix)
- Anil Chawla & Dale Anderson - Leftorium
- Minilogue - Atoms With Curiosity That Looks At Itself And Wonder Why It Wonders