CME Sit-Down : Kohra
Madhav Shorey aka Kohra is one of the most talented producers in the country today. Over the last couple of years, Madhav has not only taken his own career to new levels but has also provided a huge platform for other upcoming artists to showcase their talent via his label, Qilla Records. Kohra is one of the most respected artists in the underground music community in India and the credit for that goes to his relentless efforts to sharpen his skills both as a producer and a DJ. Qilla Records has housed quite a few chart topping tracks that span across different genres like deep house, techno and minimal. Madhav has been pushing the boundaries and experimenting wth new technologies and to develop his signature sound since he arrived on the scene. It is this trademark flair that has earned him a huge fan following across the country.
Kohra plays on the Awakenings Stage at Vh1 Supersonic this weekend alongside Cristoph and Adana Twins. We are absolutely stoked to see him play a penultimate set on Day 1 of Vh1 Supersonic at the Spectrum Stage. We invited him to have a little chat with us. Read the full interview below to know more about his inspirations, plans for 2018 and his views on the current underground music scene in India.
Hi Madhav, its great to have you at CME, how are you doing?
Hey guys, it’s a pleasure and I’m good, thanks.
2017 was a great year for you and your label, Qilla with some great releases from our home-grown talent. What are your plans for 2018? Any plans to explore international waters?
We kind of re-structured and made a new working model for Qilla last year and I’m quite happy with how things have turned out so far and it’s only been a year. This year, we intend on expanding
outwards - internationally and inwards - locally. We're still in the process of working out the logistics and finer details of doing this so we can expect more clarity on this over the next few months. We're
definitely excited and keen to push our sound out to a wider audience.
With a lot of music labels in the country not doing that great, there is always a risk associated with launching a new label. Yet you launched Qilla and have been achieving a steady success. What is the
reason behind this? What are you doing different?
I think the structure that we have here at Qilla is something that I personally felt was missing and required here which is why it's evolution has been very organic based on what is needed kind of basis.
There's not much money to be made in running a label and that's a fact. So, what we do with it in terms of sharing our vision, sound and giving people a unique experience is what gives us enough reason
to keep moving forward.
Qilla has a very strong roster of home-grown artists. Do you plan to expand the roster further in 2018 or focus more on the current roster?
We're not looking at adding any more artists to the roster but rather working as a collective on putting out more music this year.
You are one of the top underground acts our country has, what do you feel about the underground scene in India currently? Surely it is getting bigger, but do you think it is going in the right direction?
Firstly, thank you! Secondly, I think the history of the underground scene in India often reminds me of the Chinese Yin-Yang symbol where there's always a balance of positive and negative - only the
ratio's change. I don't mean to generalise this and have experienced a lot of amazing parties myself, but personally this is how I feel. I think there's too much, yet too little. When we have the best
locations - they're a result of big companies throwing large amounts of money into events. When the parties are in unique locations - they often get shut down by cops which is why festivals like Magnetic
Fields has done so well and is a relief. We also have cases of some of the best underground Dj's coming down and being thrown into fancy, bottle service 5-Star hotel clubs which cannot help the artist
translate a truly underground experience to an audience. We're fortunate to be at an early stage still - as far as underground music is concerned and the numbers are still expanding. So, a lot can be done,
which is what a lot of people here are working towards thankfully. A lot of the festival and venues don't completely seem to understand the importance of good quality sound and how it needs to be tuned
for an audience to truly experience this genre of music and that is something which I feel should be taken seriously.
Vh1 Supersonic is just a couple of weeks away, and it is great to see so many home-grown artists on the line-up. What do you feel about the line-up curation of Vh1 Supersonic? Do you feel it is better
compared to other festivals in the country?
I think it's fantastic that we finally have a large scale festival that has such a versatile and varied line up. There's almost something for everyone and we've all seen a lot of such festivals all over the
world but not so much in India. Here we always have festivals focused on either Indie, Electronic Music, Jazz or Rock. Very rarely is it billed all together.
There have been quite less number of productions by you in the year 2017. Your productions are something which upcoming Indian talent look forward to. Can we expect more releases this year?
I’ve had a busy 2017 with a lot of gigs and travel. I also moved into a new house and had to set up my studio which unfortunately took a while and a toll on my music.
I already have a few releases lined up for this year and am working a lot more in the studio while keeping my gigs limited. I'm exploring the idea of presenting my music live in future so it's helping me
produce in a new context. So, 2018 should be a year of a lot more music by the looks of it.
We have noticed that you have recently shifted from playing on a laptop to CDJ’s, and there have been many artists who have followed the same. Can you share some more info on this to guide
upcoming talent in the country?
I used to play using Vinyl and CD's when I started out and it was great fun. I was using a laptop set up for almost 6 years before I moved back to CDJ's for enough reason. I think the process is a lot
more tactile and real. Softwares these days have also made the entire process of Dj'ing a lot simpler so unless you're playing a live set or at least a style of music that requires a lot of layering and loops -
it's a bit pointless to be carrying around a controller, sound-card, extra cables when you can just have a headphone bag with a couple of reliable USB sticks. The new Pioneer Recordbox is also pretty
amazing and helps organise and prepare your music just as much as one would require, personally. So it was a bit of a transition but I'm a lot happier with the decision.
A few years back DJs used to complaint that there was a lack of ample techno / underground gigs happening in the country. But now almost every Tier 1 city is hosting at least 10-12 underground gigs
every weekend. Do you feel that such an overdose of music might just kill the scene in coming years?
Yes, I think there's been a huge uprise in the underground music community as far as events, international artist tours and festivals are concerned but I'm not sure if we have the numbers to show for it
really. I think there's a lot going on but it's a bit chaotic. I think more promoters and organisers need to work together with some common goals in mind until we're ready to explore all micro units of dance
music with ease, like the case with most first world countries.
Every artist looks up to someone for Inspiration. Who has been Kohra’s inspiration?
It think I've had a bunch of different artists that have inspired me over the years so taking a single name just won't cut it to be honest.
I guess my project is a culmination of all these influences along with those that are my own.
Clubs vs Festival?
3 Tracks always on your playlist?
The only thing that changes in my playlists are tracks so I don't think I can answer that.
Artist you would live to see tour India in 2018?
Nils Frahm, Radiohead, Dorisberg, Bjork, Arpiar, Woo York, DVS1
Top 3 clubs in the country right now?
BPM (Hyderabad), Drop (Mumbai), Auro (New Delhi)
City you love to play the most?
Mumbai and Hyderabad thanks to my friends and the people who live there - eternally grateful!
Madhav takes over the Awakenings Stage at Vh1 Supersonic on the 9th of February. You can get your tickets to the festival HERE.
BY Nikhil Sharma
INTERVIEW / 6 months Ago