Rahul Giri has been one of the long standing front runners in the independent electronic music circuit of Bangalore. He produces and performs his brand of experimental electronic music under the moniker _RHL; forms one half of the down tempo electronic music duo Sulk Station alongside his wife/Vocalist Tanvi Rao; and runs Consolidate, an artist collective turned record label that supports experimental electronic music artists coming out of Bangalore. We got in touch with him to get an overview of his journey so far as an artist & a label owner. the the things to come.
Why Ableton Live?
Although Rahul Giri has been producing music on FL Studio uptil 2006-07, opportunities to perform live had him looking for alternative DAW softwares. He chanced upon Ableton Live which happened to handle both music production & Live performance fluently. In his opinion, the software has been a lifesaver when transiting from the studio to stage He feels relieved that he doesn’t have to go through the whole ordeal of bouncing out every track into stems and all other aspects that one would traditionally consider in this scenario. “I also love its interface, especially the simplicity.” he adds.
Gear and Live set up
For his live endeavours, Rahul currently uses an Ableton Push 2, Native Instruments Traktor X1 and an Ipad using Zerodebug’s Touchable; all controlling Ableton Live. Prior to this he has worked through different controllers including Novation Launchpad, SL MK II and Akai MPD32, the latter he has used for the longest time for it’s self-contained features and ruggedness.
When it comes to producing music in the studio, Rahul lives by Ableton Live, Push 2 with a dash of sounds from Native Instruments.
Live gigging experience
Rahul has been performing live for more than 10 years – from club gigs to festivals and everything in between. He has performed as Sulk Station as well as _RHL for various shows across the country and abroad including Magnetic Fields , NH7, Indie March , The Great Escape Festival (UK), Alchemy Festival (UK) to name a few.
As _RHL he performed at the first ever edition of Boiler Room sessions in India which happens to be among his most memorable gigs.
Finding Inspiration & motivation
Rahul does not wait for ‘Inspiration’ to strike for his writing process to happen. He works best in a calm, organised state. This enables him to follow a routine, spend enough time with his music making tools. “.. it’s really about creating that space.” What serves as a motivation for him is an innate desire to create something new. Be it designing a sound, working out a beat or putting together sections of a song. He does site Mount Kimbie’s set for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert, Nosaj Things set for KEXP and Rhythm Roulette’s series on Mass Appeal as some of him go-to videos in moments where he feels burnt out.
Sulk Station – Cherished Works
Of all the diverse music he has made over the years, Sulk Station’s ‘Till You Appear’ happens to be the dearest one for Rahul. Although the 2012 debut release has been critically acclaimed and marks an important part of India’s electronic music timeline, the reasons why Rahul takes pride in this piece of art is quite different. “Probably cause it didn’t come easy… I made it with limited production knowledge..” Rahul claims he had little clue about fundamental concepts surrounding music production like mixing, mastering etc. He had not trained at a music technology school nor did he do a crash course on music production. Strangely it worked in Rahul’s favour as he had to be on his toes (rather ears), relying strongly on what he heard every step of the way through his headphones. “There was this simplicity in the whole process which is very tough for me to achieve now a days.” , Rahul adds.
Consolidate Records – Strength in numbers
When asked about the vision behind establishing Consolidate, Rahul Giri points to the clue in the name; “The vision was to ‘consolidate’ the Bangalore music scene…especially [the] fringe sound.” Started as a facebook group by Rahul it brought together artists making off centre, out of the box electronic music that did not fall into the clearly defined cookie cutter formula based music styles. Along with his friend Anirudh Menon, Rahul turned this into a music record label in 2015 to provide serious representation to these outliers of the scene in electronic music. Under this banner one can find an eclectic range of music releases and live performance showcases by artists such as Aerate Sound, Worms Cottage, _RHL, Disco Puppet and Smokey the Ghost. Rahul is very much delighted with what the label has achieved over the few years. “The journey has been great .. our artists are playing a fair number of shows, getting decent coverage in India and outside.”
Some of the challenges for Consolidate Records involve reaching out to the right audience & figuring out meaningful engagement as the fan base grows. “the ever-changing facebook algorithms have been tough” he adds with a chuckle.
Giving back to the community
Wild City had a string of production workshops which involved Rahul Giri along with Gaurav Malekar of BLOT. The focus besides music production education was on addressing challenges faced by women in the Indian music scene & encouraging their participation. According to Rahul, the response had been good.. “These workshops have worked really well in terms of demystifying electronic music, triggering curiosity … it’s turning into a community of sorts.” He credits the success of this endeavour to the women producers & djs who mentored the sessions across India like Rachel K Collier, Maya Medvesek aka Nightwave, Kini Rao and more.The momentum these production workshops channeled has resulted in success stories like Coven Code – a Delhi based women collective, which was formed post one of these workshops. They perform regularly in Delhi as a group, as well as individuals. “They have managed to create a space for themselves.. [and] a support system for a lot of women interested in learning how to make make music and perform it as well.”
What the future holds
Onwards to 2019, Rahul feels hopeful for a busy year in terms of releases – through his label as well has his own endeavours. There will be a whole lot of Consolidate showcases lined up. All in all, expect more musical goodness curated and consolidated to tickle your aural senses.
The links below lead you to some of Rahul Giri’s works through _RHL and Sulk Station as well as current features of Consolidate Records