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News |  04 Aug 2017 22:01 |  By Mallika Deb

Through Juicebox on Frisky, I try to bring something unusual to the music: Praveen Achary

MUMBAI: If you want to seize the thrill of progressive house, deep house or melodic techno, you cannot afford to miss Praveen Achary. The Bengaluru-based DJ/Producer is one of those kinds in the country, who is efficient in the course of his musical diversity and whatever comes with it. With a distinctive amalgamation of 'Deep, Tech and Progressive House', Praveen's music erupts from the dark, crushing tunnel into a flash of light and sound.   

Radioandmusic spoke to Praveen about his matchless progressive sound, his adaptability, former days, unique strand in the intricate tangle of sound, association with Frisky, eminent International record labels and more.

As everything in the earth has a rhythm, everything dances, back in his school days in Jordan, he used to break dance (he laughed while saying this), also played guitar in an alternative rock band back in 1998. During his high school, he started playing music for his friends. It was more of downloading, compiling and putting things all together. Without even crossing his teens, the idea of creating music was building up in the back of his mind, subconsciously. "My sister had a Yamaha Keyboard and one day I just put a song, played the keyboard and added some other instruments, not so deliberately. That was the moment in time the music seed popped in my mind and I asked my dad who was in New York that time if he can get me a turntable and a few records.  I wanted to learn to create a scratch. He got back with the turntable and a laptop for my sister as we only had a desktop back then.” One of his classmates helped him learn some of the techniques.

"We were living in Lebanon that time, through a friend I was introduced to Trance music, she gave me some CDs. I was introduced to house music through another friend. I started digging more; however, after a couple of days, I found scratching was unexciting. A cousin of mine gave me Prodigy’s Fat of The Land that just changed the whole thing," narrates Achary. He moved to Canada during his graduation at the age of 16 where he used to play in his dorm and all of his friends used to have a gala time in the dorm itself. "I could not continue my studies there as my mind was completely in music. I decided to pursue music sincerely, as I was more contented than I was as a computer programmer." A year and a half later in 2007, he came back to Chennai and joined SAE Chennai, for the combined course of filmmaking and audio engineering. During the course, Praveen literally skipped sixth months of the filmmaking classes, as it was never interesting for him, the audio engineering classes started in the beginning of 2009. "I figured that the digital module I already knew, however, the analogue unit pulled my attention," adds he.

Submerge organised a remix competition in 2009, when Praveen logged into the forum around 4 pm, he noticed that deadline was eight hours away. "I saw people posting and out of those, I liked two tracks. One was by Shubs and the other one was by Dual Drive (Who are known as Color Ray and Diatonik separately). I downloaded, remixed and submitted the track in two hours. It was a tight-neck competition and I ended up winning that. That rather opened my vision," he proceeds. "Arjun Vagale got in touch with me post this and I told him that I would send some demos; but, I had nothing that time! I worked on a track and sent it to him while he was in New York." Arjun liked the track and released it on Maktub in late 2009. Technically, the track Crossover was Praveen's debut one. The legendary Grammy Award nominee producer/DJ Sasha also played the Manuel Sofia remix of Crossover at a gig in Singapore. While he was playing in and around Chennai, but he realised that in the last one and half years he was not producing anything for himself. According to him, he was not even making enough money to sustain.

“I joined The Inventory where I worked for five years. I was taking care of content, marketing, and my salary was just 10K, where as my rent was 12K (he said that with a grin). Fortunately, I was playing a couple of gigs for 5K each during that time and sustained. It was a 9-6 job, and after coming back home, I used to make music until 3 am in the night. It was a constant cycle for 6-7 months. I did end up making quite a good salary after a few years, however, it was getting very difficult for me to balance everything as it was taking too much of my time. I was being paid enough from the gigs. In 2013, I left the job at The Inventory and decided to stick to music from tip to toe," narrates Praveen.

Producing music slowly took place for Praveen when his track Space Machines was signed to Cid Inc's Replug. Praveen got allied with FRISKY, an online radio service, that is well known for global underground electronic music services. Frisky organised Frisky Loves India, an online radio event during June 2010, where Praveen accidentally ended up playing as an alternative. “Submerge contacted me for the gig as one of their DJs was listed, couldn’t play at that event. That was definitely a turning point as my track got more than 15000 plays on the channel and post that Frisky guys asked me to be the Artist of the Week,” He reveals. Since then, there was no turning back for Praveen.

In due course, along with his progressive journey while connecting listeners around the globe, Praveen came up with his own record label Juicebox in 2012. The ideology behind it was to promote underground melodic house and techno, globally in a progressive approach. He declares, “The name Juicebox came into my mind after a little wordplay. The idea came from the jukebox, as the device plays a particular soundtrack automatically when a coin is inserted. Eventually, through Juicebox on Frisky, I try to bring something unusual to the music.” 

Motivated by the environment, Praveen says that he is a very moody person. Discussing his musical approach and creative process, he prefers calling his music progressive. “It has to be easy on the ear, also groovy. I want to create stories with my tunes, in a melodic and progressive way. If not exceptions, hard-hitting techno is overly identical and I cannot bear in mind the specifics about the track as a listener at the end of the night,” he sums up. “If there is one track, that I am humming, I have to keep it in my mind. When I am producing something, it might happen that I do not like that in the next morning. It has happened before with me and I ended up deleting that entire project just because I did not like it the next day,” he explains. Radioandmusic asked him what the trickiest part about producing music is. To this without a doubt, Praveen stated with a laugh that apart from naming them, the mixing part is always tricky. “The idea and concept are foremost. It is not only pressing buttons, the labelling, EQs, but the melody should go in the right direction. End of the day, you need to learn it,” he adds.

He believes that, as a producer, it is not mandatory to know how to play an instrument, but an understanding of several instruments and the technicalities is an advantage. Nevertheless, it is essential to possess a good sense of hearing. Achary, who is already leading the progressive music region, regrets not having learnt singing. Praveen also runs his monthly two-hour show Juicebox on Frisky where he plays mix-sets, that is a solidarity of his musical diversity, influences, adaptability all weaved together in a smooth effortless way.

Being a regular on Beatport charts, he says, “How will the world know about your presence? As 10000 tracks come up every day in each section, being on the chart assist you to reach a larger audience and discover new music. I grew up with radio. I have heard some classics such as Enigma while travelling to school. Besides, the online radio shows are diversifying these days, internationally and nationally the audience is growing. If one million people are coming to the forum every day, even if you reach one per cent of it, that is a lot. I have nothing to hide and I feel it is very self-centered that some people do not share the track names while they are putting the tracks publicly.” Praveen, who has been associated with international and national giant record labels such as microCastle Music (Canada), Mirabilis Records (Slovenia), Qilla Records (India), Dopamine Records (Greece) among others, states that his association with microCastle Music was a 'dream come true.'

As without variation from the norm, progress is not possible, Praveen is working on something exciting apart from gigging all over India. While we came to a close, Praveen stated that he gets anxious before playing even if it is a familiar place. “My only agenda is to reach more people with my music and spreading the knowledge I am accumulating while producing and DJing,” he signs off.