May 04

Atish Talks About Life as a DJ, His New EP & Following Your Dreams

by in Interviews

It has been a big year for San Francisco-based DJ/producer Atish. The past twelve months have seen him travel around the world and perform at many iconic music festivals including Burning Man , Desert Hearts & Strawberry Fields.

While his current life may be moving at a startling pace, the story of how Atish got here follows a slow and steady narrative, taking place over the course of seven years. This week Atish was kind enough to discuss his unique journey to becoming a DJ/producer and his debut Melodics lesson ‘Twiddles’.

You moved to San Francisco over 8 years ago which really exposed you to the underground scene. Tell the story of how you managed to acquire your first set of Technics 1200 turntables and how this got you going as a DJ?

Back in 2010, I had already been collecting vinyl for a few years, but never tried my hand at DJing. I was at a friend’s after hours and I saw that he had quite an impressive record collection, which I half-jokingly made an offer to buy. He initially declined, but 2 weeks later he sent me a message saying he’s leaving town and needs to unload his record collection ASAP to make some quick cash. I ended up buying the collection, and as an added bonus, he included two Technics 1200’s. At that point, I figured I should learn how to mix these records since I now had the gear to do it, and that’s how I stepped into the world of DJing.

Looking at your Soundcloud page you published your first mix back in June 2010 and have been very consistent in producing a new mix each month. How has this helped build your career and how far in were you when it started to snowball?

I attribute most of my following and career progress to my monthly Soundcloud mixes. Back in 2010, Soundcloud hadn’t taken yet the dance music community by storm, and there weren’t many DJs releasing mixes every month. So at the time, I had a lot of music to offer with less competition for people’s ears. This was fertile ground for me to build a solid organic following over the next few years. I think if I started my DJ career today using the same strategy, it would be much harder to progress at the same speed since a Soundcloud mix has less value now than it did in 2010. The sheer volume of mixes, podcasts, and DJs has increased like crazy over the last 5-10 years.

Things really started moving for me after my 2012 Robot Heart set was released. 2012 was one of the first years when the outside world really started taking interest in Burning Man culture and music, so I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. That set caught a fair amount of worldwide attention which opened a lot of new doors for me. Luckily I had a decent back catalog of Soundcloud mixes for people to browse if they wanted to hear more of me beyond the Robot Heart set.

A really unique part of your story is that you were a software engineer at Facebook before taking the plunge into becoming a DJ. Are you able to talk about how you made this transition? Was it an immediate shift or a gradual one?

It was a pretty gradual shift for me. I never had any intention of being a professional DJ. It was quite the opposite – I remember thinking that I would remain a hobbyist so I would never have to compromise my artistic integrity by depending on my art to make money.

But even as a hobbyist, I was touring domestically and overseas using vacation days or taking unpaid leave. I was coming into work dead tired on most Mondays. Beyond that, I was saying no to more and more music opportunities because I couldn’t make the time to take them on. The more I said no to things, the more I started considering making the jump to being a full-time artist. I wanted to know what my potential was. From a practical perspective, it turns out that I happened to be making just enough income from my gigs to at least cover my living expenses, but philosophically, I don’t want to be 100 years old looking back on my life regretting, wondering “what if I had made that jump?” So I spent about a year contemplating, deliberating, and having several discussions with friends and family, eventually deciding that it was time to try out this “artist thing” and see what happens. I’m really happy I made that choice. I have the best job.

You have also said that seeing how much you could grow as an artist was a big factor into why you left Facebook. What have you learned about yourself in terms of being an artist since leaving?

This won’t sound very romantic, but I have learned some of my limitations. I’m learning that even though I want to do everything, I can’t. I’m learning that taking on too much work can reduce its quality or my motivation. There’s only so much time and energy (mental, physical, emotional) that I have, and the task of managing these resources is as important as the actual creative process itself. It took me about 18 months of touring full-time to learn this about myself.

You have a great story about how you were fortunate enough to open for Lee Burridge at WMC by being at the right place at the right time? Can you explain this story and the impact it had on your career?

In 2011, I was project managing a series of boat parties my friend Gunita was throwing at Winter Music Conference in Miami. One of the boat parties featured Lee Burridge + Craig Richards (Tyrant) as the headliners. Due to a family emergency, the original opening DJ had to back out of the gig at the last minute. At that time, I had only been DJing for a few months, but Gunita gave me the opportunity to take over the opening spot. Lee must have liked that set, since just after the gig, he invited me to play his night at Robot Heart at Burning Man later that year, which is a really high profile gig. Playing Robot Heart in 2011 was special, but in the bigger picture, that opened the door to me playing Robot Heart in 2012, which as I mentioned earlier, opened a lot of doors for me.

Some would look at that moment and say that you were very lucky. Do you believe in luck or do you think you make your own?


For instance, in the above example with the boat party at WMC, it was pure luck that the opener had to back out of the gig (bad luck for him, good luck for me, I suppose). That was completely out of anyone’s control. But at the same time, there was a reason Gunita chose me to open instead of another artist with a bigger name or more experience. I suspect that’s because she appreciated my work ethic and attitude that she already saw from me as the project manager for her parties – I gave her 100% in the work I was doing, so she knew I would give her 100% for that opening gig slot. And again, I was really lucky that Lee happened to be thinking about his Robot Heart lineup when he heard me open for him. But at the same time, I worked my ass off preparing for that opening boat party set. I suspect he wouldn’t have invited me to play Robot Heart if I bombed the set, so all that work I put into preparing for that set inadvertently capitalized on that lucky timing. So I don’t look at lucky breaks as singular moments in time – I see lucky breaks as opportunities that emerge out of high-quality work.

But even if you’re good at what you do, there’s still no guarantee that you’ll get those breaks, which is where the other half of the answer comes in: creating your own luck. If you want more out of your career (or more out of life for that matter) you can’t sit around waiting for DJs to tend to family emergencies. You have to create your own opportunities. For me, it was releasing monthly Soundcloud mixes, starting my own record label, throwing my own parties, networking with other artists (even though I’m an introvert), offering to help people like Gunita…hell, even quitting my job. These are all pieces of the puzzle that increased my chances of getting more and more of those lucky breaks. There are no guarantees in life, but I do believe you can increase your odds.

You have just released your first EP named Peculiar Colours on your label Manjumasi. Were you nervous at all about making the transition from DJ to producer? Why did you think it was time to move into this realm?

One of my biggest insecurities I carried was the fact that until the point of releasing that EP, I was “only a DJ.” DJing is a beautiful artform and undoubtedly has its fair share of challenges, but it’s harder to be a good producer than it is to be a good DJ. So I always had this cloud hanging over my head that I wasn’t working hard enough or I wasn’t as good as everyone else. I know that’s an unhealthy way to think about things, but that’s simply the reality of how I felt. So I had 2 choices: see a therapist to sort this out, or release a record. I chose the latter :)

This might sound backward, but I think most producers have the luxury of releasing their first record without anyone noticing – they can just get it out of the way and move on. But here, I already had a sizeable following. People were waiting for my first record, and to be frank, I wasn’t (and I’m not) as good a producer as I am a DJ. So I had to mentally prepare myself to be judged on something that isn’t a home run. So yes, I was nervous. It’s like, would you rather lose your virginity in the privacy of your own home, or with 20,000 people watching on the internet?

“I realized that many good things that have come my way came because I either treated people well or did someone a favor without expecting anything in return.” This is a very powerful quote of yours. Can you provide an example of how good things have come your way on the back of treating others well?

I think a good example is the one I already touched on, which was helping my friend Gunita throw boat parties in Miami. I did this on a volunteer basis – I wasn’t expecting to get paid, and I definitely wasn’t expecting a DJ gig out of it. I just saw someone who could use some of my help, so I offered it. 6 months later, I’m playing on top of Robot Heart at Burning Man.

Watching some of your sets online I have to say a defining characteristic of yours is how animated you get when behind the decks. Has this been the case since day one? Where does this stage presence come from?

I started playing violin around 5 or 6 years old, so I had been performing for large audiences in concert halls as long as I can remember. I definitely wasn’t dancing around on stage with my violin, but I think my comfortability with being in front of a crowd stems from those early experiences. I’m actually more comfortable dancing around on stage than on a dance floor.

You are releasing your first Melodics lesson this week called Twiddles which is a track off your new EP. What can users expect from this lesson?

There are two lessons – one lets you finger drum the percussion, and another lesson lets you play along with the lead melody. Both of them definitely took me a few tries to get them right, they aren’t easy. I have to say it’s pretty surreal seeing my own track used as a tool to help people learn, I think this whole thing is really cool!

How did you get involved with Melodics and what is it about the platform that excites you the most?

As a full disclosure, I’m actually an investor in Melodics. I think Sam, the CEO, reached out to me because I have experience in both the technology and electronic music space. He knew I would be the type of person who would immediately understand what Melodics is doing. I think finger drumming is really cool, but I’m most excited to see if, down the road, Melodics can revolutionize the way we learn how to play more traditional instruments. Perhaps Melodics can be today’s equivalent of the Suzuki Method.

You play the drums have those skills transitioned smoothly when finger drumming?

For sure. I think many same parts of my brain get activated when doing finger-drumming. I remember when I was taking drum lessons and learning some more complex patterns, I would sometimes get stuck – it was tough translating the written notes into drum hits. I eventually grasped the challenging patterns by not thinking about each single note hit, but rather by feeling the beat as a whole. I found that this same approach to finger drumming has helped me progress through some of the harder lessons. Maybe that will help you too!

With the release now in the books. What do you have planned for the rest of 2017? Any big goals?

The biggest problem I’m trying to solve this year is time management. How much time do I need to spend touring in order to have fun, stay relevant, and make enough money to live comfortably in an expensive city like San Francisco? How can I balance that touring time against running the label, producing music in my studio, seeing my friends/family, staying in shape, and maybe even being in a stable relationship. I don’t really feel a strong urge to be more famous, have more fans, or top the charts. I really just want to have all the variables in place for a balanced, artistically fulfilling life.

For more on Atish check out his social media channels





Apr 14

OddKidOut Talks About His New EP & Growing As An Artist

by in Interviews

It has been a big twelve months for OddKidOut. He has smoothly transitioned from an Instagram sensation to the festival line ups of SXSW and Firefly this summer. In regards to production he has also been busy with the creation and release of his  new EP called “Full Circle”. The Philly producer was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about his new EP, what he has learned in the last year and his three new lessons on Melodics.

The last time we did a Q & A with you was April 15, 2016. How have things changed for you in terms of your music career in the past year?

It’s been that long already? I feel like a lot has changed in the year, specifically with my artistry. I’ve been focusing much more on my industry presence as both an artist and a producer. I’ve slightly veered off the hip-hop path (I’m still on it 100%), but have opened up my musical horizons to different genres and new musical environments that I haven’t touched before.

What is the biggest life lesson you have learned over this time period?

I’ve learned so many things, but I think one of the most important ones was to be safely skeptical of what people tell you. I’m not saying not to trust people, but to rather assess what they are saying to you when you meet them and take it at face value until you get to know the person a little more. I used to get my hopes up and immediately think big things would come of these meetings but have recently realized that I need to be wary of what actually is the truth.

You will be performing at SXSW and Firefly this summer. What did it feel like when you first heard you will be performing at these events?

It was a great feeling, I’m so honored to be a part of both of the festivals. I had performed at SXSW two years ago so I was a little more taken back by Firefly since I haven’t even gone as a concert-goer. Honestly, I felt like my friends and family were more hype than me when I found out but that’s just because I’m constantly challenging myself and looking for the next big thing to do. However, I’m really grateful and excited to play…I’m counting down the days!

Your new Full Circle EP has just been released. Tell us about the EP and how it differs from your previous works?

The EP is different than my other music because I wrote it with two other people; 1403 and Mitch Beer. Immediately, the musical content was enhanced because these two are extremely talented and we understood how to work cohesively. 1403 is from London, so he brought with him those gritty vibes that acted as a counterpart to the more vibey sound that Mitch and I created here in the states. It’s what I like to a call a “genre-blender”. While some of my other music is obviously hip-hop or soul, the Full Circle EP wanders somewhere in between there and electronic music.

Was there a change in the way you approached producing this EP compared to your previous works?

Yeah, the way we produced this record was much different because we only had about a week. Tom (1403) came over here to the US for a week and that was when we basically constructed the whole project. Working in such a small timeframe was a little difficult, but also a great tool to keep the creative juices going. The project was really an organic creation that evolved over 7 days, and I think you can feel that in the music.

1403 features in a few tracks on the EP, adding richness to each track with his vocals. How did you guys connect?

Yeah, so 1403 is on every track, whether it was his vocals or an instrument he was playing. I was actually introduced to him through Mitch Beer; that’s how we all came together for the project.

What was it like working with 1403 throughout the project? What was the process of creation like?

It was “Wonderful”, ha! No, but in all seriousness, it was a delight working with both 1403 and Mitch. Musically, we all are on the same wavelength so it made the process very smooth. And from just a normal life standpoint, both are my homies so it’s always great to be around friends.

You mentioned in a previous interview that you have been listening to Anderson Paak’s ‘Malibu’ album a lot and loved how it fuses old school and modern elements. What other artists or albums have you been listening to lately?

I’ve also been listening to Rick Ross’s new album. That project is truly fire…I’ve had it on repeat recently. I’ve also been getting back into my Dubstep phase, as I’ve been listening to a lot of Excision and Datsik recently. I really listen to everything…this morning has been all about The Police aha.

What is the single biggest skill you have developed as a producer in the last six months?

The biggest production skill I’ve learned recently was how to utilize space, and that less is more. I found that I was over-producing my tracks when really the answer was just to incorporate more comprehensible parts that didn’t step all over the main lead.

You said in an interview for Creative Masters that you don’t like to describe your sound, but if you had to it would be a mixture between electronic and hip hop. It seems that has held true with your latest EP. Was that your intention?

Yeah, I usually try and stay away from genres or labels because I feel that it becomes limiting as a producer and an artist. I tend to say that I incorporate my soul into every track I make, that way I’m open to all sorts of opportunities. For this EP, it’s a direct incorporation of both my soul, but also Mitch and Tom’s as well. That was our intention….to make a project that was gestated from our creativity, and didn’t conform to any preconceived notions.

In the same interview, you talked about using the time you walk between places, shower and when falling asleep to plan and think about the past, present and future. Are you able to go into this process and how it has helped you achieve your goals?

Yes, this is a daily routine for me. The shower is still a sanctuary for me…I’m sure I piss off my roommate by being in there for hours at a time but there’s something so relaxing about hot water and it helps me think. And still, before I fall asleep, I always always always think about the next goal in mind. I think about how to get there, what I can do tomorrow to make that happen, and then imagine what I’ll do when I finally get to it. It helps visualize the goal and helps me stay focused on achieving what I want.

You have previously said that success for you, would be to redefine the way that people listen to popular music. Are you able to elaborate on this and what it would mean to achieve this goal?

Yeah, I really just want to share my uniqueness with the world. I would love to be writing tracks for the biggest artists, but doing it in a way that is unique. For example, you can almost always tell when an artist does a track with Pharrell (or the Neptunes), his sound is just iconic. I want to do the same thing with the way that I produce my tracks.

What excites you the most about releasing three songs off your EP on Melodics?

I’m most excited for the community to wrestle with some tracks that have actually been turned into real songs. Some of my past lessons have been beats and those contain invaluable lessons, but this round is almost more “real”, as the listener can play the lesson and then open up Spotify and listen to the real track.

Are there any tips you would give to Melodics users before playing your new lessons?

LOVE. YOUR. METRONOME. It’s the most important thing in music in my opinion; be one with the metronome. With all of my music, or anyone’s music at that, being able to lock into the groove is everything. I sometimes produce tracks off the grid that are still in a pocket, so in order to play that slightly swung feel, you need to master the metronome simply on its own. And I also just want to say thank you to everyone who has been messing with my lessons and thank you Melodics for allowing me to share my craft with the world!

Aug 27

An Interview With Leonard Charles: Talks Career, Dilla & His Basement Studio

by in Interviews, Melodics, Pro Tips, Uncategorized

Going right back to the beginning what moment/person got you interested in music?

Witnessing how excited my parents were when they came home from a Jimmy Smith concert in the 80’s.

From this point how long was it until you started creating your own songs and beats?

I started writing my own music at high school and then made my first beat with Kutcorners (Serato) in 1998, we borrowed a Boss SP202 from our local music store from our friend who was the manager of the store (he now works for Ableton).

You have appeared in many different musical bands and projects over the years including Open Souls, She’s So Rad and now Leonard Charles. All these projects are distinctly different in terms of genre and sound. Have you always had such an eclectic taste? Are you seasonal in what you listen to?

I just listen to what I like on any given day. I have a fairly decent record collection so in the morning I just reach for the record I want to hear. I usually end up working on music influenced that record when I get to the studio.

With all that experience under your belt who is the coolest person you have met in your musical  journey so far? Can you explain what your first encounter with them was like?

A huge part of my musical experience I owe to Dave Cooley. He is a mastering engineer / producer. He always has time to share knowledge and is a genuine person within the global music industry. The first time we met he invited me to a recording session he had at Sunset Studio’s in LA working with a band called Silversun Pickups. They gave us a some tips on riding the busses in LA.

Tell us about your project ‘Basement Donuts’. What inspired the project initially and how did it evolve?

Inspiration for Basement Donuts is all J Dilla. People who know me know how important J Dilla’s music is to me. I’m not exaggerating when I say he has influenced every single piece of music I have released or produced. I was invited to perform at a night to raise money for the Dilla Foundation and so I decided to make it a special performance and remake J Dilla’s album Donuts but in my own way. The most important thing about J Dilla’s music is that it is unique to him so in order for me to serve the music right I needed to make my version unique to myself. I feel confident that I achieved this, I was hesitant at first because I really didn’t want to step on the toes of one of Hip Hop’s greats. I had the honor of playing some of my tracks from the release to Guilty Simpson and  he was feeling it. That seal of approval was enough for me to know I was doing the right thing.

The bulk of this project and a lot of your music is made in your basement studio. What was the first bit of equipment you bought for it and what gear do you have now in your studio?

The first equipment I bought was an MPC2000 and a turntable back in 2000. I have a bunch of gear now but the main things I use are: Ableton with Push. Roland Rhythm330, Roland MP600, Moog Voyager, Roland Chorus Echo, UAD Apollo, UA LA-610, Akai MPC3000, Fender Rhodes, Fender Jazz Bass, Fender P Bass, Fender Coronado, Premier 1075 drum kit, the list goes on.

In 2008 you performed at the ‘MPC Championship of the World’ under the name Jeremy Ota. Are you able to tell our viewers more about this event and the hours taken to build your cardboard MPC suit?

Haha, The event used to be held every year in New Zealad. It was an invitational MPC beat battle. A week out from the event all the competitors are given the exact same samples and get to make whatever they want to out of the samples given. I decided to do a tribute to all the Hip Hop I love by manipulating the samples they gave us and remaking classic beats. Some of the beats I made were even by people I was competing against.

You have helped design lessons for Melodics in the past primarily in the Chiptunes and Classic Breaks genres. What is it like having a Leonard Charles lesson released?

It’s cool. I really like the educational element to Melodics and I love building lessons that push peoples imagination. I hope that some of the elements from my own lesson will inspire people to go and create music.

What can Melodics users expect from your “Can We Go Back” lesson? Do you have any tips for how a newbie should approach the lesson.

I think a good approach is to go and listen to the godfather of modern funk – Dam Funk. Then go back to the lesson and just feel the drums. The drums are so important, the way the kick sits in the rhythm.

Who are the three artists you are listening to the most right now?

Mulholland – he has a studio above me so I hear his music all day.

Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand)


What advice would you give to an aspiring music producer or beat maker?

Be yourself.  Respect the architects/ creators of the music you are making. Look to the past for education and look inside yourself for creativity. When it is time to make music forget the world around you and just feel what you are doing, get in the zone, that is where the magic is.

Jul 15

Live Evil Interview: Talk About How They Met And Performing Live

by in Melodics, New Lesson Tuesdays, Pro Tips

Vancouver electronic music duo Live Evil are back with their second Melodics lesson “Tell Me”. We are able to ask Matt Perry a few questions about the lesson and how Live Evil got started.

Where did the name ‘Live Evil’ originate? Is there a story behind it?

I was always fascinated with the Miles Davis album of this name and the trippy artwork on the cover, i’d even sampled it for a beat back in the day. The way its a reflection of the word LIVE fit what we were doing performance wise and as “The Freshest Live sets”. It was also a way to identify the projects sound and concept so as not to confuse it with the Freshest remixes and mix tapes we had been doing. I feel it gave us more direction too.

You guys started a series of Youtube videos called ‘The Freshest Live Set’ with your friends Seco and Rico Uno what was the inspiration behind starting these videos?

We all used to perform at shows. Sometimes 2 at a time. We had a gig at the 2011 Vancouver Red Bull Thre3style world finals opening for Peanut butter Wolf and wanted to put something together to really showcase what we could do. From there I came up with the idea to incorporate musical instruments in there too, it wasn’t happening much at the time and seemed like a waste to not utilize these synths I had, so from there it grew in to what we have done for the last 6? of them.

How did you guys first meet? How long was it until you collaborated?

We met in 2004. I was making rap beats and Marvel was DJing for a rap group I produced for.

When describing the Live Evil experience you guys said “We want to bring that feeling you get when you see a band perform, but in a DJ context. Lots of energy, a real performance with a sinister vibe.” Are able to elaborate on how you prepare for each set and how your performances have evolved?

We spend a lot of time breaking down songs we like into parts that we can remix, then start arranging them in a live performance rehearsal. These days, we are focusing more on breaking down our original productions and making our own songs. Remixing is super fun, but it has limitations, copyright wise 😉

Explain how you got involved with Melodics and what you guys like most about the software?

I met Melodics head honcho Sam Gribben through my Job, and he’s easily one of the best humans I know, he’s a visionary and I believe in what he’s doing with Melodics. What I like most is Melodics makes interacting with music fun and challenging for everyone from beginners to pro’s. Its inspiring to see how the lessons are broken down. Rap and Dance music is our generations Rock n Roll (to quote Kanye) and i think Melodics is a modern way to approach learning music and developing your rhythm.


How have you seen finger drumming develop as a whole over the past few years? Where do you see it going?

I have! It’s being adopted by most leading dj’s and its exciting. Its so much more than pushing buttons. If you are musical, its really remixing and performing music the way you want to hear it. There is so much more interaction, i’m totally inspired by all the new people picking it up, from dj’s to beat makers. So cool to see the combination of melody and rhythm and harmony all combined with Djing, because we have kinda seen Scratching go about as far as it could go. Its the future for sure!


You have both been on record discussing the growing Electronic Music scene in Vancouver. Dropping names like Pomo, Ekali, Pat Lok & U-Tern. If you could give someone three tracks to get an idea of the emerging sound of Vancouver what would they be?

Joseph L’Etranger just moved to Toronto but we can claim him still

Juelz on the come up 


These guys are all from the Chapel collective, which would be in my opinion the crew i’m checking for the most. But there is lots of great dance music coming out of Vancouver too with labels like “Mood Hut” and “1080p” The latter actually started by a Caniwi like myself

What does the rest of 2016 have install for Live Evil?

Planning a new performance video and an Ep for 2016. Definitely focussed on putting out more music!

What is the best piece of advice you can give to aspiring producers and DJ’s?

Find your sound, stick with it and go hard. Stay focussed and work hard, this game ain’t for the faint hearted

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