Updated: Jan 29
Whatever your line of work may be, creative challenges will always find you. Even the extreme left-brained thinkers will be called to conjure up ideas at some point in their life. What about you? Are you left brained or right?
Musiq Soul Child in his album 'Juslisen' said "Time waits for nothing, but everything's gonna take its time." How true this is! so how do we manage process when it comes from a position of inspiration? This true story will either reconnect you with your past experiences, reminding you of the magic you have come into contact with, or it will ignite your faith in your own intuition.
I was teaching music production at Maida Vale at the time. I had recently finished my education at Westminster Uni and was soon hired to teach. The students who attended there had finished early and we were allowed access to the studios for our own works when not in use. I sat at the keyboard and laid down an extremely basic idea that seemed worth saving. I had completed my own first home studio setup in Colindale, London, where I was renting a room. It wasn't fantastic, but an important step toward getting my musical ideas down.
(My first studio)
Having the means to lay down ideas in my own studio gave me the ability to really get creative, this also allowed me to share my works with other producers by means of external hard drives. I could easily save my projects and take them to any other studio.
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon and also my day off. My partner had some family visiting and they were taking in the sun out back. My setup position allowed me to see out into the garden and enjoy the views too. The Apple Mac G4 was switched on and I decided to build on some ideas. The first idea I loaded up was that riff I had previously conjured up, using Reason 2.5 software,
This is basically all I had. I decided to add a Piano riff and see how it married. It sounded good so I built on that. Next were the drums and some pads, just to give it some character.
I added some more instruments and came to a halt. I wasn't sure where to go from there, almost as though the universe said "That's it for now." My partner at the time came into the room and asked what I was working on. I told her that I was just laying down an idea. "It sounds horrible," she said. I looked at her surprised and said it's only at the idea phase. She acknowledged my response and said, "Yes but it doesn't sound good at all." She knew that I would not take it personally, I had always asked her to be brutally honest with me.
The idea was buried once again. I didn't work on, or even think about it for at least a year. I had been busy with my E.P, 'The Prophecy' with my production partner Tom Linden at the time. He was working at Iguana Studios in Brixton where I also recorded some of my work. After my E.P was released, the noise it made called for more releases. It was at this time I pulled out my 'buried' idea once again and reluctantly sent it to a friend who was helping me promote my work, Irfan at DesiTunes4U. Check out the Akhiyan Remix Story.
I was unsure if it would be well received, what if he also called it horrible!?. That is the nasty thing about doubt, give it an inch and it will attempt to steal the whole space. Anyway, I stuck with my gut and sent it over to him by email. Irfan had a listen and loved the idea. I asked him if he new of any Asian vocalists who may be interested in featuring on it. He told me he'd brainstorm, and get back to me.
Meanwhile, A song called Donasian 'We Can Make It Better' with Mukhtar Sahota and A.R.Rahman was due to be done, and the video shoot was in planning. Irfan had been asked to search for talent to feature on the Donasian release. He put me forward and the organisers agreed. In the same breath he told me that he might have found the vocalist for this idea. His name? Mehi, A young aspiring U.K artist from Jhalander India. Classically trained and in his 20s, able to deliver vocals like he was in his 40s. We were blown away.
I asked Irfan to send my idea to Mehi, "let's see what he does with it." I said intrigued. A few weeks later a CD landed on my doorstep. They were vocal files of Mehi, I loaded up the system and imported the files into the arrangement. It was at this moment I knew something fresh was about to happen, something I had never even conceived before let alone worked on. Electronica vs Punjabi Sufiana style vocals.
For the next few days, I didn't do much else. I'd take my Rotti TROY for a walk in Wimbledon Common, come home and continue. It was all coming together. So new, so electric, so ecstatic. I even named it Point Of Xstaci. I thought, if this still sounds horrible then I don't want to make non-horrible music. I komped his vocals and played with them like they were strands of Elizabeth Shue's hair. Nothing went amiss, I took some pieces which were perfect and chopped some other pieces in order to spice things up. (Pun intended)
I finished the song and even did a remix calling it Point of Xstaci 'The Qawalified Mix'. These were both sent to Irfan for his opinion and he was blown away.
The moment of truth arrived. Trust my gut or scrap the horrible idea. I sent the final mix to Irfan and he phoned me immediately. His response? "I love it."
The song was sent to BBC Asian Network, BBC Radio 1, and many other stations a few weeks before release. Within 24 hours I tuned in to both stations. BBC Radio 1 was playing the Point Of Xstaci Remix and BBC Asian Network playing the Point of Xstaci original Mix. Both versions ended up on their playlists. Did it end there? Nope...
I had never registered Point of Xstaci with the UK charts because I didn't expect it to reach. Not only had it been played on most U.K radio stations, but my own friends on holiday called me from abroad while a DJ in a club they were in was playing the song. The countries included India, Germany, Brazil, and USA.
(Pictured Mehi and Djinn)
Point of Xstaci was also taken on by Universal Music Group and is still used in sync licensing today. I have continued to work with Mehi who has become a family member over the years and we have other releases which include '1000 Years', also played on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra.
Would we still have met if not for Point of Xstaci?! What if I had scrapped the idea? What if I simply forgot about it? What if I gave in to doubt, believing it to be just another random idea?
One of the most satisfying things I experienced after the release of the song is a text message from my partner a few weeks after the release. The message expressed the appreciation of the detail that went into the track, and how after allowing it to grow on her, she realised how entrancing it was. She called it a masterpiece.
Moral of the story.
When the Universe urges you to create and the ideas flow through you, If it feels right, go with it. Don't ask too many questions, it can block the process. Trust your hunches and forget what people say. What is written for you will absolutely fall into place. When you suddenly see the picture, seeing how it all came together from channels you could never even imagine, you will witness a higher power at work through you and for you.
. . .The End . . .