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Category: Interviews

AV: First and foremost, how did you guys meet each other, how did it all get started?
MP: Well we go back a long way. We met in junior grade in school but at that time, because Gaurav's dad's job moved him around everywhere, Gaurav went to some other city outside of Delhi. However, he came back to Delhi for his architecture degree in Manipur. At that time I was doing my engineering degree. This was in 1993. So then we hooked up again. Gaurav had started djing for a couple of radio stations in Delhi and I was doing sound engineering for a lot of the studios and was being hired out by a lot of these radio stations.
AV: So your engineering degree was in sound engineering?
MP: Actually it wasn't, but I was doing part time work as a sound engineer. So having known each other for so long we just decided to put our knowledge together and went out bought the equipment and started our home studio.
AV: When was this?
MP: This was in 1994.

AV: So, 1994 was the creation of MIDIval Punditz?
MP: Actually we didn't have a name then. Came up with that in and around 1996.
AV: Why MIDIval Punditz?
MP: Well it was a big joke then. We are both Hindu Pundits by caste so we just added the first term and created the name. It was around this time that we had a couple of demo cd's that we had started playing around in the club scene in Delhi and had gotten a good response from it. After that we hooked up with Talvin Singh because we figured out there was another guy out there who was making similar stuff. This was in 1997. We sent him a demo cd and he asked us to contribute a track for his next cd called Anokha 2 and invited us for an Anokha party in November 1999 and thats where we met Karsh Kale, Ajay Naidu, Equal i, Osmani and everybody else. We kept in touch with Karsh and well you have seen the rest of the story.
AV: So whatever happened with Anokha 2 - why is that still in the back log? any ideas?
MP: You know we aren't really sure. There are talks about it getting released but we aren't sure when it will get released.

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AV: Ok changing topics - being that you are from India why did you guys decide to go with this sound? Why not sound like bollywood or the pop music that is coming out of there right now?
MP: We don't pick a sound that we make - its more like we make what we feel. See when you start off as a musician you have all these ideas but then you mature into your own sound and understand what your sound is. I guess we just came to terms that this is what our sound is and we stuck to it. Also, in India we were exposed to a lot of the club culture that is there, which is very electronic based and along with that we were always brought up in classical music. So this was a natural result of that.

AV: So be honest - what would you have said to someone back then who might have said that in 3-4 years you will be touring and performing in America? Along side Karsh Kale, Cheb i Sabbah, Zakhm and all.
MP: You know to be honest, without sounding too pretentious, we knew that it was going to happen. I mean we had met everyone in 1999 and we knew that we were going to take it ahead, promote it and get it bigger and bigger. We had been touring Europe, India, America and different parts of the world - it wasn't a planned thing but in the bottom of our hearts we knew it was going to happen. It is really satisfying to finally see the response and the scene take charge but it didn't take us by surprise we kind of knew it was going to happen.

AV: Well ok turning to your album - first off all lets talk about the track Bhangra Fever - what is all that mention of grids and swerves? What are you talking about there?
MP: Well actually, our friend Ajay Naidu was in India at that time and we were discussing his experiences when he traveled over the world. He has seen a lot of different cities and it's actually his perspective we are trying to capture over there. Basically about how geographically different cities appear to be like grids, like New York or swerves like New Delhi.
AV: The other track - Incite - where is that phone message from?
MP: (laughs) That's Ajay's voice as well! We were just joking around and having some fun.
AV: Alright personally though I really enjoyed Far From Home and Night - is that the same singer on there?
MP: Actually there are two different singers. Far From Home we have a lady who is the disciple of Shubha Mutgal in Delhi. Her name is Vidhya Shah. In Night there is a lady that we are working with now recently - her name is Smriti Manoja. She also sung on the last track called Dark Age.
AV: Are there any plans to work with these artists in the future?
MP: We probably will be but lets see how it all turns out. There is a possibility we might produce some of their records. There aren't any complete plans as yet but most likely we will. It is difficult to find a vocalist who can adapt to our sound. I mean a lot of musicians who are from the orthodox Indian classical side are hesitant to approach this kind of music but we have been lucky enough to find these musicians who have been able to adapt to our sound. So yea I guess we will be working with these artists again.

AV: So how did you guys approach your work with the musicians - did they give you samples of their music or did they come into the studio and work with you guys?
MP: Well there are a couple of ways to approach a track: in one we might make the entire arrangement and leave spaces for the vocalist to come in and write lyrics for. In that case they will probably take the track home, listen to it, get the feel of what they would like to add to it and then we will come rehearse it and record it. In other cases we will leave parts for an instrument like the flute or shehnai and then based on the scale or raag that we are working on we will have them record that piece that we are looking for. Then we will edit it and put that in to the rest of the track.

AV: Lets turn to your touring hen you toured with tabla beat science - how was that experience?
MP: That in itself was a fantastic experience. It was a year and half ago that we toured with them and the first show was being put together as a follow up to the album that was produced. The album contained Zakir Hussein, Talvin Singh, Trilok Gurtu, Bill Laswell, Karsh Kale and others. At that point we were asked to remix for one of the tracks on the original record which we had done - the remix isn't out yet but its been done. Through that remix the team got to know us. So when it came time to form a live band it was Karsh who suggested - why don't we use the Punditz as the electronic element. So we got on board with them and it was a great experience.
AV: Did you ever imagine you would be producing electronic music with Zakir, Ustad Sultan Khan etc?
MP: That was something that, like other producers, we had always wanted to do and I guess we were just lucky enough to get the opportunity to work with them.
AV: Talking about touring - how was the reception of the Asian Massive tour across the US?
MP: From our perspective it was very amazing. It was great to see the way it was received and see it open up to an audience that is not primarily Indian or South Asian. We were seeing a lot of Americans coming in who were new to the sound. We had imagined this eventually happening but to actually see it occur was a very exciting experience.

AV: Lets talk about your roots then - how is the club and music culture out in India?
MP: Well first of contrary to popular belief, there is a big clubbing culture in India. It mainly exists in big Indian cities such as Bombay, Delhi, Banglore, Calcutta - mainly in the metro areas. It is very westernized since most of the stuff that gets released in UK or in the US comes to India also. With Internet and Cable TV it is very easy to be exposed to Western sounds and culture. Anything that gets released here in the US is almost instantaneously available to the rest of the world and vice versa with Indian pop culture also.
AV: So what's your plan for India then? Are you planning on showcasing your album out there also?
MP: Well currently SixDegrees and Times Music are in negotiations for doing the distribution deal in India. That should come through by November and by that time we will simultaneously showcase with an Indian tour which will be basically Delhi, Bombay, Chennai, Calcutta, Banglore and whatever else is out there.
AV: Are all the guys going? Is it going to be the entire Asian Massive team?
MP: I doubt that. Because, right now the scene in India is not that big for us to allow huge budgets for doing such a show. We are doing it ourselves possibly with a live band consisting of the people that we produced the album with.
AV: Is that how the Cyber Mehfil nights were set up?
MP: No, well initially the clubs in India were not receptive to our sound - they only wanted pop and bhangra etc. So we decided to throw our own party and said we will play what we want to play. We set up a party kind of like Mutiny in New York and it has been going on for four years now.

AV: So now turning to your music again? Its the two of you guys - do you must have a set system on how to collectively work on something or agree on a sound?
MP: Well see that's why we are together because we do have a similar palled of sound. We compliment each other really well in terms of what's missing, what needs to be done and then we engineer the album together. When we are producing a track we get the live instrumentalists into it also - sometimes they suggest the sounds that would work and sometimes we do. It is a very intertwined effort. There is really no set system - it's just a combined effort.
AV: Ok so when you are producing a sound or performing on stage, what would you say you are trying to present?
MP: You know what - it's very simple what our sound is about. It is about our experiences, our feelings, as being two guys from India who grew up in this particular generation and went through certain emotions and events during their lives. Influences that of course included being influenced by certain kind of music over the years such as classical, film and western. So our sound is us presenting it all together. It's a very honest representation of us.

AV: Final question, since this is music that is created in a foreign language for a foreign audience - do you present your music so that the audience can understand this emotion and feelings you are coming from? how?
MP: Yea completely - I mean that is quite a big part of all music creation. We are speaking about a language - a medium of expression and if that medium is not well understood it defies its purpose. So of course when we are trying to make music that is international and has to go to an international audience we think it is very important to understand where they are coming from. I don't mean knowing exactly what they are used to listening to but rather, what is it that they can relate to. Then from their we can make something that people can understand. I mean obviously making music that people can't understand or relate to makes no real sense. In the end we are basically using a medium of expression and being honest with it.

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