Being a publication that champions the cause of indie music, TIMD has been overjoyed to see the expansion in diversity of music being produced by the artists across genres. Last year we covered the proliferation of Ambient Music artists in India and it has steadily grown, accompanied by a growing exposure to sound design and synthesis.
The audience’s affair with Ambient Music set the stage beautifully for Jay Pei’s latest orchestral EP, Squares. A prominent techno artist, Jay Pei’s melodies have been a category of their own. In Squares, he’s taken that expertise along with his sound design knowledge, and created a soundscape that encourage one to shed the boundaries that society so convincingly boxes us in. In fact, when we asked him about his foray into orchestral music, Jay acknowledged the growth of a human and how their craft grows with them. If a musician or artist produces the same music every time (for a lifetime), where is the growth?
Perhaps a testament of his growth is the fact that this EP has been in the making for 5 years. As the honest artist that he is, he acknowledges that in 2016 he did not have the maturity to produce the work that has come out as the EP. What paid off was that he never gave up on it, always on the back burner, and he is glad that it has resulted in an EP with what he wants his signature to be – cinematic and orchestral movie scores.
For Jay, Squares is about liberation – from the boxes of genres, from functional dance music, from audiences. As one listens to the EP, one can only wholeheartedly agree with that emotion. All but one tracks are named after seasons – the track where Winter should be, is called Gloom. Incidentally (or not), it is also the most dynamic of all the tracks with booming bass providing sound support to the melodic realms of an organ. Spring and Summer lend a positive vibe to the beginning of the EP, but not the kind of toxic positivity that makes most people question their existence. Rather, one imagines the joy of nature’s bounty flowing on Earth, unfettered once again by humans manipulating it for their own gains. With Fall, as it does around us, the melody begins to change, reminding one of a last goodbye.
It is often tempting to delude ourselves into thinking that we can never compose or produce orchestral music of the like of this EP because we don’t have the equipment. We asked Jay about his equipment and he squashed that belief once and for all, when he shared that the EP is made almost completely using digital instruments inside the computer. Being the generous artist he is, he even shared the name of the piano library he has used on this EP (Spitfire Audio). The main challenge was not choosing the instruments to use or the synths to incorporate, rather the composition itself, of which he has done a brilliant job. While its true that some of us might compose more naturally than others, depending on how our brains have developed, it is not something that can’t be done without top-notch equipment.
It is joy beyond explanation to see an artist as promising as Jay Pei mature into the confidence of owning his musical identity. With this EP, he has confirmed, at least for himself, that bringing his personal touch to his music is the way forward for him. He no longer wishes to deprive himself (and us) of his personality reflecting in the craft. This, we feel, is an important lesson for the industry, which has been overwhelmingly leaning towards producing commercial dance music for a long time now.
By producing this EP, Jay has by no means shunned dance music. He hopes that we can all resume live gigs and gatherings as soon as the pandemic eases. He continues to write music like this and dance music as well, even planning to perform this EP live once the moment is opportune.
All we can say is, while we did not watch Bezos’ rocket launch live, we will be there front and centre when Jay plays this album live, and we can bet that it will be far more effective in helping us dream of space travel than that rocket ever was!