“Desi Rappers Deserves The Spotlight” Exclusive Interview | Andy Grewal

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Andy Grewal is a producer and a sound designer from Brampton, Canada. He is one of the two producers who work together under the name of ‘Bearded Bandits‘. He has visited India only twice since his birth in Canada and never expected that his first hip-hop feature as a producer would come on Sikander Kahlon‘s ‘Mohali Messiah 2‘.

I fell in love with his work and decided to talk to him. Here’s how my conversation with him went like.

Andy Grewal

San Cha: How Exciting Your Journey Has Been? What Helped You In Deciding That Music Production Is Going To Be Your Thing?
Andy Grewal: Music has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I started experimenting with making music around the age of 13. A friend of mine at the time introduced me to a couple of programs. Though I was just messing around and not really taking it seriously at first. My interest in producing grew exponentially in the following years. Nearing the end of high school I was making beats, getting into sound design, and exploring various genres of music to produce. Many peers and friends that had I shared my stuff said I was good and had potential. I guess that’s when I felt that producing music was my thing, and was something I could see myself doing for a long time to come. I wanted to learn more and get better, so I kept at it.

San Cha: There Are Times When An Artist Wants To Quit. What Should They Do To Stay Away From Negativity?
Andy Grewal: Honestly, there’s no doubt that there will be times when artists (especially those aspiring to become one) feel negativity about their own abilities and doubt if they’re good enough, or if they’ll “make it”, among many other things. Everyone’s situation will be different that burdens their determination. With that being said, if negativity is coming from within, don’t dwell on the “if’s, and’s, but’s”, rather ask yourself, “how bad do you really want this? Is this just something you just do for fun and pass time, or do you value what do like your own life?” Understand and acknowledge that you have a talent, and pursue what you’ve been trying to do this whole time, and remember why you started trying to get somewhere with this in the first place. You got to believe in yourself and your own abilities before someone will be able to. With negativity coming from the external, consider that those who are working their way up, to those who are established; everybody has had hardships and people who didn’t believe in them, or even tried to bring them down. There’s always a way you can pull through the negativity. Surround yourself with positive people, people who support you. Practice whatever you do, such as writing, your flow, making beats and so on, until it becomes second nature – even then, make it your purpose. Doing this might not remove the negativity and problems from your life, but it can remove them from your mind, and that’s all that matters to restore and maintain determination.

San Cha: Your Work With Sikander Kahlon Is Being Highly Appreciated. How Do You Think This Collaboration Is Going To Be Helpful In Your Future Projects?
Andy Grewal: Despite making music for so long, the tracks I produced for Sikander Kahlon’s “Mohali Messiah 2: Season Sikander” mixtape were my first collaboration with an artist, ever. Yet, with that same notion, I used pretty much everything I’ve learned and incorporated various styles of producing that I’ve developed. Hence, this will be helpful in future projects, regardless of with whom, as it shows what I can do and my versatility as a producer. As an upcoming producer’s first feature, I can say that it was a great mark and first impression. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

San Cha: What Is Your Take On The Use Of Samples In An Instrumental? What Is Your Process Of Producing A Beat?
Andy Grewal: I can talk about this forever, but basically this has been a grey area for a lot of producers, primarily between those who have different styles of production. But those who hate the idea of sampling and the people who do it, need to understand that roots of hip-hop. It started as a culture and a movement and became a genre of music gradually. MC’s clenched the microphone dropping freestyles as DJ’s played back and mixed songs at house parties and such. Moving on to when hip hop became more prevalent, artists and producers didn’t have the luxury or connections to hire professional musicians and rent out recording studios to get everything done, let alone have the laptops and software we have today, which makes everything a million times easier. So with this limited access, producers and beatmakers needed to get their sounds from somewhere, so they dusted off their stash vinyl records and let them play through for inspiration, for samples. Breakbeats for drums, oldies for samples. From vinyl to Sampler/MPC, that’s how it was done. There was no problem with that then. It gives beats a unique taste and that’s exactly why people today still sample stuff sometimes when making beats, despite all the technology we have to make our own sounds. It’s basically incorporating inspiration into a beat – and hey – if it sounds dope, then it’s dope. Where sampling other songs can be avoided, or if it simply isn’t your style, that’s great; but the idea of sampling shouldn’t be bashed on. Those producers decades ago, they have paved a path that will be looked back on forever.

As for my process, I try to aim for at least 1 beat and/or sound (sound designing) a day. Finished, unfinished, good, bad, doesn’t matter. If it’s completely trash or I don’t see anything happening with it, I might delete it the following day, but always aim for 1 beat a day. Like Kanye said, “Lock yourself in a room, doing 5 beats a day for 3 summers”. So, my process usually looks like, open up a blank project and think of and lay down a melody. For me, 90% melody/sound before the drums. Also, when I sample, I don’t look to create a “sampled beat” for the heck of it and then force myself to look for something to use. Throughout the day, I listen to a lot of music, and I mean A LOT, which consists of a wide range of genres and time periods. If I hear something that I feel I can sample for a beat, I make a note of it and come back to it. That’s why I feel and stated before, that sampling is about inspiration. And then it just goes on from there.

Andy Grewal
San Cha: What Are Your Future Plans With Bearded Bandits? How Did You Come Up With This Name?
Andy Grewal: Bearded Bandits is a production duo composed of myself and my good friend DJ Mani Bains, which we started in 2014. We produce mainly in the realm of EDM’s dubstep, trap, and hybrid sub-genres, but not limited to them. The name comes from our identities as bearded and turban-wearing producers, making our mark in the EDM scene of producers. There’s a lot that we have planned, but nothing that I can disclose as of yet. Stay tuned.

San Cha: What Do You Think Of The Desi Underground Rap Scene? How Can It Grow According To You?
Andy Grewal: Y’all are definitely stepping it up in India, and even Pakistan: lots of dope desi rap coming out. Something that was first made mainstream by rappers like Bohemia, people have developed love and passion for hip-hop, flow and lyricism, without any background or experience of life and mainstream culture here in the West. It’s truly remarkable. The underground rappers in India and Pakistan have proven that hip-hop has no language, and is universal. They definitely deserve the spotlight.

I feel that the underground scene of desi hip hop is not recognised and appreciated as much as though, especially by their own communities. I feel like as with underground music all over, they don’t get the amount of support they should in order to flourish. Instead, they’re forced to live and grind in the shadows of established rappers. Here in the West, it is still easier to get some exposure, but for Indo-Pak rappers back home, it’s a complete mess, which is largely due to the audience putting the already handful of established desi rappers on a pedestal, which is limiting, if not completely putting a halt to, their growth as aspiring hip hop artists. According to me, the desi underground rap scene IS growing and spreading, the artists are doing all the right things, making all the right moves. However, it’s the listeners who must give them a chance, and give them room to be successful. The listeners need to acknowledge the fact that in terms of hip-hop, and what it really is, there are underground rappers that are undoubtedly better, and lyrically far more superior than the mainstream ones which they claim are the best and that no one can compare to.

San Cha: How Can An Independent Underground Artist Work With You?
Andy Grewal: Hit me up through any of my social media profiles or email me: AndyGrewalMusic@live.ca, and we can discuss business in further detail. Stay Inspired!