As a publication that exists to promote independent music in India, we often encourage those around us to listen to more Indian artists. Some artists are liked immediately and some need more time to be warmed up to. Three Oscillators (Brij Dalvi) , a burgeoning talent on the electronic music scene, falls in the former category. When he announced the release of his debut album Season 0 : Light Beings, and the beginning of a new format for his future releases aptly titled ‘Seasons’, we were beyond excited.
It isn’t difficult to guess why Brij’s sound connects so deeply with listeners. His work often gravitates towards a dreamlike sound that traverses genres without sticking to one for too long. For a generation that has grown up with terabytes of music on their iPods and now a seemingly endless choice on streaming platforms, his experimentation with genres is a perfect match. He might shift between genres easily, but his signature glitches and groovy bass are a feature of most of his tracks.
Dissecting his music only holds a part of the answer as to why he’s able to connect with his listeners. Brij is original, not only in his approach to genre-hopping, but even in how he distributes his music. You might not know it, but he regularly releases music, including what is featured on this album, on his SoundCloud. On being asked as to why he finally put it out on streaming platforms in the more traditional format of an album, he says, “The plan of putting this on regular streaming platforms was always there – I became a little disillusioned with these platforms and their focus on metrics and it really put me off for a bit. It felt like a rat race that I had to keep up with to stay relevant, and that’s something I’ve never liked doing. I chose to do something that would satisfy my urge of uploading music impulsively upon completion and yet not consider them as official releases, and SoundCloud let me do that. I’d say most of my ardent listeners are on SoundCloud and there’s still a thriving community out there that listens to (my) music only on SoundCloud, and I’d say it feels extremely homely with comments and stuff, something I don’t feel with other platforms at all. However, as much as these DSPs don’t feel like “home” to me, I know most people use Spotify and Apple Music and it would be stupid of me to limit access to my music for them, so I decided to put it all on there in a big way!”
Artists across the world and through ages have been inspired by the ‘more than real’ experiences that nature can offer. Season 0 : Light Beings is a collection of eight songs that were inspired by a journey Brij made to North Goa, where he experienced bioluminescence for the first time in his life. His ability to cohesively compile an album around the thread of bioluminescence is an example of his artistic prowess. The songs from this downtempo, sometimes glitchy album shift between themes of introspection, fluidity, tension and euphoria.
The album begins with a short intro track ‘Deluge’ which acts almost like an introduction to the lush pads, resonant plucks, peppy percs and deep bass that are a highlight of the entire album. The next track, Lumina, picks up the pace with a track structure that will remind you of waves, rising one moment and calming the next. The next track ‘Astralplane’ is perhaps the most experimental and standout track of the album. It starts with a chaotic interaction between various elements and eventually eases into a melody that is reminiscent of the relief one feels when they encounter nature after a while.
Listening to the album, one might imagine Brij sitting in a plush studio with all the fix ins and latest gear. Being a self taught, full time musician, his reality is different though. Sharing his current setup and words of wisdom for emerging producers, he says “I finally got myself a gaming rig after 5 years of using my trusty Acer Predator laptop, and also got a MacBook Pro for making music on the move. Apart from that, I have a Novation MiniNova, a MOTU M2 interface, M-Audio AV40 speakers and Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro headphones. Most of my work is on Ableton Live and I produce music on headphones.
If I had to give advice to producers regarding gear, I’d ask them to make the most of what they already have until they make enough money from music (or a day job / business) to buy gear that’ll make their workflow better. Also remember that there’s ALWAYS a workaround, however shiny a piece of gear looks. Don’t get too carried away by the illusion that you need the best gear to make the best music. Some of my best music was made on a second-hand 12-year old Pentium processor. There are great free DAWs and plugins. Amazing music can be made on phones. The only limit is your imagination.”
The 4th and 5th tracks, “Is This A Dream?” and “Subconsciousness”, pick up with the easy pace where Astralplane left. Melody heavy, peppered with ample glitches and supported by grimy bass, these tracks are a short halt in a story that has so far been about reaching a goal. The next track, ‘Submersion’ changes the mood and amps us the beat to a peppier pace. The last track, ‘Remnants of a Lost Utopia’, is a perfect soundtrack to a reflective afternoon spent diving deep into your memories for the perfect moment when you felt joy. The lush pads and round bass play with each other with twinkling melodic elements tying it together in a neat package. With such cohesive storytelling and uniform sound palette, it is hard to say where each track begins and ends, although one doesn’t feel bored by stagnancy.
The album reflects not only Brij’s expertise in composition, but also mixing and mastering. His journey of being a self taught artist has helped him experiment successfully while also staying grounded in the work there is still to do. Reflecting on his journey, he says “Reflecting on one’s journey is always two-pronged; I appreciate how far I’ve come and at the same time I feel like I’ve barely done enough. The former makes me feel nice and the latter keeps me grounded and encourages me to do more. Too much of either thought will result in undue stress, procrastination and anxiety, things that I battle every day. I don’t put much of my personal life on social media and most people will never see that side of me. These are my battles to face and since I’m a full-time musician, my career depends on it. I think the biggest highlight of my career that I’m extremely proud of is the fact that I have reduced my dependency on social media for career-related stuff, and my income is not dependent on gigs. The challenge remains making this whole music thing sustainable for myself, and I’ll tell the whole world how I did it when that happens.”
In an effort to find more sustainable ways of making a full time career in music work, Brij has also deep-dived into the world of Web3. All the music from Season 0 was first premiered on major web3 music platforms like Catalog and Sound, before making its way to streaming websites. The music was minted as NFTs on these websites in an effort to fundraise and further Three Oscillators’ emerging career, in exchange for future perks and first listens for all those who collected these NFTs. While he has been able to make a path for himself in the Web3 world, many artists continue to be wary and even ignorant of the Web3 world.
On being asked about his opinion on Web3 and how artists should approach it, he says “ It’s a great thing to be wary about anything crypto-related. The first thing I usually suggest people do is to read up on how all this works. I’m not going to present web3 as this crazy utopia that everyone should immediately get their hands into, but there are a few tech-related things web3-related in music that I find really exciting: for example – blockchain-based DAWs like Arpeggi Labs aims to fix the problems of attribution in sampling among other things, and Nina Protocol is like the Bandcamp of web3 where you can buy great music in stablecoins (crypto coins that emulate the dollar). Once the focus shifts from ‘how much money is made in web3’ to ‘how web3 can make my career sustainable’, that’s when things will get truly revolutionary. As far as everything else in web3 goes – I’m not a financial advisor and everything should be researched thoroughly. It’s great to read up about blockchain technology and explore it for sure!”
Brij is experimenting with a new format for some of his future releases called Seasons; each Season will have a different vibe and style of music, in an effort to streamline Three Oscillators’ creative output and give enough time and equal focus on producing music, playing gigs, teaching music production as a day job and taking breaks to focus on health. Seasons are being planned with a duration of a year in mind for each one, but it’s still in development. While Season 0 is focused on experimental sound design, the yet-to-be-announced Season 1 will focus more on downtempo dance and futuristic garage.
With such a knack for experimenting and simultaneously hitting the nail on the head, we’re sure Brij has a bright future ahead of him, one that will surely carve a path for him as a visionary that emerging producers will look up to!
Brij’s Photograph by Kirti Narain