On a typical lockdown day, inspiration is not the easiest thing to come by. Regular visitors include overwhelming sadness and crippling anxiety. In the absence of regular contact with those you value, artistic communities have played a strong role in keeping us sane. In a heartening show of the community that exists in the underground electronic scene in India, 22 producers have come together in a project to create music using a pool of 22 samples, with each producer contributing one sample, over a period of 2 days.
The project was initiated by Oceantied, who without his primary source of income, performances, has struggled mentally and financially. He felt a longing for more of a collaborative or community activity, and decided that he should do a beat challenge. It started out with 8-10 producers, who then invited a few more producers, eventually capping it at 22. Once they were done with creating the tracks, they had a virtual listening party on Twitch. Oceantied thanks the amazing vibe and Ayush, a contributing artist to the compilation, for coming up with the idea of releasing their work as a compilation to raise funds for those in need.
The compilation showcases the artists coming together to transcend personal islands for a cause that is bigger than the art, in a time that is challenging for each one of them. When speaking about the experience of working with so many producers, Oceantied says, “I think all the producers involved have been extremely supportive & something like this release can only happen through a community effort. We also had multi-disciplinary artists in the group which helped in creating an identity for the release, Raka did the artwork, Mehar made a great animation to fit our music on, it just felt great to be working on something with everyone, and every single producer had a role to play in the release.”
Playing through the compilation, you’ll start to see the method to the madness as you start to recognise samples and styles. Each of the 22 producers is a unique voice in their own right, so there is no unifying theme to the compilation except a reaffirmation of the fact that insane talent is coming out of the Indian underground scene. We are, as was Oceantied, unable to pick a favourite from the compilation. From the dark bass sounds by Echofloat to the percussive rendition by GMB; from the liminal sampling by three oscillators to the dancefloor ready interpretation by Ocentied; from Zokhuma’s trip worthy composition to POTTER’s ethnic take on the samples; it is hard to believe that all the tracks are produced by using 22 samples only. Commenting on the diversity Oceantied says, “All the producers have created something unique and the fact that we’ve all used the same samples but in such different ways, I instantly had a connection with all the tracks. I’m genuinely in love with the compilation!”
Whether it is this compilation, a beat challenge on SoundCloud or live Twitch parties, the Indian music community is doing everything to stay afloat in difficult times. However, every artist is feeling the pinch without a thriving performance industry. Oceantied points out the lack of government support or music oriented organisations that could have made the fall easier. In many ways, it is true that the electronic industry has been left to its own devices to find a way out of the pandemic. Although, when we look at other industries, where processes are in place, things don’t seem to be much better. We all hope to come out of this stronger, but for now, compilations such as these, keep us going another day!