New Delhi based Music Producer FILM to Debut Self-Titled Album on Qilla Records

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As an artist it is more essential than ever to share your creations with the world. No matter what your art of choice, people will tell you that you’re nobody till you start putting out your creations for the audience to critique. But what doesn’t get said enough is that before you put yourself out in the world, you should take time to work on your craft and really make it your own. That there is value in making the journey worth the reward.

An artist, who embodies the joy of the journey, is FILM aka Sanil Sudan. Despite being a strong presence in the Indian music scene – being a part of all major compilations and handling artists and entertainment booking at New Delhi’s Auro Kitchen & Bar and Summer House Cafe – Sanil has so far refrained from releasing a full length album. It seems that the butterfly is finally ready to come out of the cocoon with his debut self titled album coming out on Qilla in May.

Listening through the album, the first thing that one is impressed by is the breadth of genres that Sanil has manoeuvred so ably without losing sight of the wider story that his album conveys. Every track is layered with meaning that is complemented whole-heartedly by glitchy, idm like drum patterns, evocative pads that are emotionally resonant and samples that are rooted in the pop culture of past, present and future. Intelligently mixing samples with sound design, Sanil has ensured that the standout feature of his album is not the genre it subscribes to, but the artist who has written it.

While the album is slated to release on May 28, there are singles being premiered from it right now. The first one out is ‘Call Me’, a mellow track that toes the line between dub and techno with its repeating melodies and minimalistic drums. The next two premieres, ‘Discordia’ (comments on the current political climate of India) with Bolting Bits on May 3rd & ‘PLPFCTN’ (with samples from the cult movie Pulp Fiction) with The Ransom Note on May 17th, are stellar examples of the use of samples to make tracks that are genre agnostic.

We spoke to Sanil about his album, and here’s what he had to say (answers have been edited for readability)

  1. You’re one of the better known faces on the Indian electronic music scene. You regularly promote local talent as a DJ and a booker and your releases on compilations have been highly appreciated. What made you decide that now was the right time to launch your debut album?

On my Border Movement Residency in Berlin about 5 years back, I was so overwhelmed with my experience of living and making music full time that I knew the album format is the best for me to express my varied interest in music which isn’t really fixated to the floor alone. I’ve grown up listening to electronic music albums and to me is the best way to tell a story as a musician so it just took its own natural course of writing and writing till a bunch of tracks sounded cohesive and felt part of a larger narrative. Of course, when the pandemic hit in 2020, it accelerated the process because I had all the time in the world to sift through my unfinished projects and another 6-7 months to perfect it in terms of flow and here we are on schedule for release in 2022 🙂

  1. The album is extremely well produced. It will have no problem making its mark in the industry, which has been seeing a lot of promising talent producing albums. One of the most striking things about the album is how well it tells a story. How did you approach the composition of the album? Is there any track in particular that you enjoyed or were most challenged by?

I write a lot of music on the regular and believe it or not most of the time I don’t know what I’m doing because I’ve been writing music all my life without a singular purpose. I’m just curious to learn how things are made and most of the time for me it’s a maths problem of learning various techniques and styles. Once I actually stopped making new music in the beginning of the pandemic to filter my unfinished projects, I started noticing a pattern with certain tracks which had basically these 3 things in common – a memorable hook, vox (vocals) and not so usual drums. These immediately went into a folder called album and since then I knew there was a story with these tracks somewhere and I began contextualising them to make them feel a part of a bigger narrative.

I pretty much enjoyed making every track , if its not fun for me it never usually sees the light of the day. Mother was really hard to finish and felt uncomfortably personal but that’s why I feel this album is the most authentic piece of music I have ever written.

  1. What was your set up for the production of the album?

I don’t have a huge amount of gear. Whatever is there is for a reason, most of the Drum Work is Ableton stock and Max 4 Live plugins (shout out to Legowelt sample packs) , Korg Arp Odyssey & Make Noise 0Coast for the synth leads & Bass/Subs and of course SoundToys plugins for FX/Textures/Pads.

  1. I speak to a lot of young artists who are haunted by the concern that if they don’t release EPs and albums, they will be irrelevant. Is there any advice you have for young music producers and artists?

Honestly, when I started DJing about 15 years back I actually got away not releasing any music for a decade! Just promoting parties & DJing was enough for me and I got away with it. Now that seems virtually impossible. You have to put out music to stand out but I don’t think you should feel pressured to release music. It’s a long process to be able to develop enough confidence and skill and forcing it won’t help. My advice is to be in it for the long haul and while you are at it knowing how the industry works is an added advantage.

  1. The electronic music scene is changing. Slowly but surely. What are your hopes for it?

I think we are still far from calling the scene inclusive, diverse and holistic so not sure what has really changed. There is definitely new money in and a lot of new players but unless we all work to make it sustainable it could just end up being in a bubble .

The pandemic was really hard on the venues, artists and promoters & we are still mostly reliant on “for profit” venues to have a scene and it’s increasingly becoming difficult to have a healthy environment where every aspect of the culture is monetised.

What I really hope for is some sort of state funded intervention in terms of funding for the arts but I guess we have far bigger problems in the country so that’s that but on the brighter side the sheer amount of new domestic talent constantly blows me away and we are truly making a mark on a global level.

  1. What lies ahead for your future?

Perhaps resume International touring again this summer and I’m in the process of starting a Tyrell Dub Corp album accompanied by a Live Improv set by the end of this year.

As a publication that covers independent music, it has been heartening to see Sanil’s journey and the patience with which he has put in the hard work to finally be able to reap the rewards. We’re sure this debut is just the beginning of what is going to be an impactful oeuvre in a few years.