Su Real chats with the OG Nucleya weapon about his brand new EP Koocha Monster.
I can just see it now, and over the next few days, you’ll see it too. You might be trapped in a traffic jam, or waiting in line at the post office, or perhaps stuck in an elevator waiting for the power to come back on, when all of a sudden someone around you bursts out, “Nucleya bole, fuck that shit!”
After years of paying dues spinning at underground parties, club gigs and festival stages, with this new EP Nucleya seems poised for a breakthrough to the Indian mainstream. And what’s amazing about it is that Koocha Monster isn’t a dumbed-down or distilled version of Nucleya. Actually, the tracks are wilder and more adventurous than his previous releases (already known for being pretty wild and adventurous!). Yet, the six tracks together are definitely pieces prepared and composed with the intention of smashing any dance floor they’re played on, and refined over time to the quality of sound that only a skilled producer of “sound”, not just “music” can provide.
Within the domestic scene, Koocha Monster is not merely a continuation of the tradition of East-West fusion that is omnipresent in everything from Bollywood to Comic Con. It’s a contemporary triumph of the motif, and looks set to go down as a seminal release in the history of modern Indian music. On an international level, the EP already has the thumbs up of the primary authority on third world-flavored dance music (ie Global Bass, or Tropical Bass) – Generation Bass. I’m confident that soon, some of us might be landing up in parties in Berlin or Miami and hearing any of these tracks there.
Listen to Koocha Monster below.
I’m not usually gushing with such praise over releases these days, but as a fan and DJ of Global Bass myself, this is a landmark release, not only for Nucleya but anyone making any kind of music or art in this country. The signal from Nucleya’s success is clear – do YOUR thing, believe in your vision, improve your skills, persevere. There are ears willing to listen and booties willing to shake. Let these six anthems inspire you to make your own anthem.
Su: Congrats on the new EP, it sounds brilliant! I understand you were hiding this weaponized audio in your secret armoury for a while. How does it feel to finally get it out there? Can the world ever be safe again?
Nucleya: Haha, thank you, I’m glad you like it! I have been playing these tracks in my sets for some time now and it always fetched me a very good response. All my friends wanted to play these tracks in their sets too, so I’m very happy that the EP is finally out. I think the listeners will do more damage to the world since now they have the “nucleya” weapon…
Lots of DJs are going to be really thankful for these bangers sure to play in their sets. Do you think there’s something here for non-DJs? Although there are many niche genres represented here, the tracks seem like they would have broader appeal?
I think in general, people will like the EP more than DJs because my tracks have a sing-along vibe. Either there are vocals or very strong hooks which seems to work with all my audiences so far; it’s also the formula for pop music. Also, I just saw a video of Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs Boiler Room DJ Set, and he opened his set with ‘Urvashi Urvashi’ by AR Rahman. This is a very cool thing and makes me believe that I’m not doing anything too weird.
East-West fusion has always been a big thing in the Indian scene, but over the last few years this formula has started to sound increasingly staid and boring for many. However, this EP of yours is the first one I’ve heard by an Indian artist that smashes those decades-old conventions by involving a number of global bass nano-genres (eg. Moombahton and 3bal), and a great conceptual narrative. How did this style evolve?
Honestly, I did not plan it like this. I think right from the beginning I wanted to make music which wasn’t like any other music. I feel that as an artist it’s vital to have your own style which is very distinctive. I have experimented with a lot of indian music styles in the past. One genre which always fascinated me was south Indian street music, and not just the music, the dance as well. There is a lot of pride in how they enjoy this music. When I first heard south Indian street music, I was very fascinated by it and wanted to incorporate it in my production. It took me a while to study how this style of music is produced and performed, and how each instrument is played. It obviously took me time to find the right balance between the genres I was mashing up, but I’m very happy with the end result.
Check out ‘Call of The Mountain’, a song produced by Karsh Kale and Nucleya, produced for season two of MTV Sound Trippin.
As most producers in India have been migrating more and more towards the popular “EDM” sounds, that you and me know as “Dutch House” mainly; what drew you away from that but towards the more obscure nano-genres of global bass from around the world? How did you discover them?
The last thing we want is all the electronic producers from India producing what the West is doing already. There is no unique sound of urban Indian electronic music, this is the reason why I wanted to do music which was different from everything else. I am not saying that my style of music is super original or anything, but I don’t think anybody has yet mashed up so many different Indian sounds the way I have done in this EP. I listen to a lot of music online, and follow artists I admire, and then discover new ones via them. I am always on a look out for interesting artists than genres actually.
There are a lot of great samples of traditional Indian instruments on this EP. How are you creating these?
I play or program all the stuff in MIDI step by step, using this VST instrument called SwarPlug. It’s super rare for me to use a sample just like that. I take a lot of pride in the way I design my beats and my melodies. For my melodies sometimes I sample a live performance and “melodyne” everything very carefully and make a new Ableton instrument out of it so that I can then play whatever I want with it.
What about the hilarious vocal drops like the “Nucleya bole fuck that shit” vocal samples on ‘Akkad Bakkad’ or the airline stewardess on ‘Bangla Bass’?
Haha, I love sampling stuff. It just adds so much life to a track. It’s an old-school, hip-hop way of doing things. But for both of these tracks I recorded these samples. ‘Akkad Bakkad’ has my wife Smriti’s voice on it and ‘Bangla Bass’ has Mou Sultana’s! I like this approach ‘cos one needs to take a back seat as a composer to be able to think like this. I look at sampling as a very artistic way of making music.
Check out ‘Bangla Bass’ from season two of The Dewarists, a collaboration with Mou Sultana and Brooklyn Shanti, below.
I think these days, surrounded as we are by instrumental electronic music, it’s important not to forget that songs should still be about “something”. How are crowds reacting to your slightly twisted sense of humor?
The sampling I do in my music is what people remember. Tracks like ‘Akkad Bakkad’, where the “Nucleya bole fuck that shit” part comes, I put the fader down and everyone sings with the track, which is very cool for an electronic music producer. For more or less all my tracks, there is always something which people can relate to.
How was your experience with The Dewarists and MTV Sound Trippin? Were they helpful at all in expanding your fan base and introducing your sound to more mainstream audiences in India?
Certainly! Post these two shows, not just the fans but I am now being offered really big projects too. Even internationally there is a lot of buzz. It’s an awesome time for me.
Clearly, the torch is being passed from the old(er) school of East-West electro-fusion super-producers like Talvin Singh, Midival Punditz and Karsh Kale, to a new generation of uber-producers leading the charge against homogeneity and complacency in Indian music. Expectations are rising. What’s next for Nucleya?
Lots of cool projects! A remix EP is being planned, and we are approaching some of the best Indian electronic producers for the same. A music video is being conceptualised and the shooting for the same will initiate shortly. I have just started working on a project for a very big food and beverage brand; I’m designing music for them, which will be out early next year. And in November, I will be playing at the OSLO World Music festival. I’m very excited about it.
Check out Nucleya at the Eristoff Wolves Den at 6pm on Saturday, October 19 at the Pune edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender. Get your tickets here, and make your own schedule using our handy inTown scheduler so you don’t miss Nucleya’s set!