Vishal J Singh (Amogh Symphony)
Everyone knows Amogh Symphony. Right? That technical death metal band with crazy riffs and drumming thats captivating audiences across the world!! Does anyone know Vishal J Singh, the one man mastermind behind the music? Well, if you don’t, this interview is for you. It was an obvious choice to us at Headbangers India to choose Vishal as the Indian Artist Of The Year. Read on for more..
HB: Hi Vishal, good to have you here. Tell us more about yourself.
VS: Hello, it’s great to be here. I’m Vishal J Singh, the one man member of Amogh Symphony, a progressive death/experimental project based in Mumbai. I’m a guitarist, drummer and keyboardist, and in the recent past, I’ve worked/am still working with artists such as Noesis from Chicago, Sleep Terror from Seattle, the Japanese Chapman Stick player/music producer Daisuke, Korean electro-percussionist/multi-instrumentalist Chung Reeh for Project Cyberasia (Tokyo) and groove maestro drummer Jim Richman (Washington). Apart from the metal that I play, I also do jingles for TV ads such as the theme for Delhi Daredevils and Complan, among others.
HB: Amogh Symphony is as different a band name as I’ve heard in ages. What does it mean?
VS: Amogh stands for ‘perfection’ or ‘accuracy’. My father, the late Jitendra Singh had kept this name. I added the ‘Symphony’ because of my influences from western classical and orchestral music. When I started this project, I had a concept of ‘fusing the symphony orchestration concept with progressive death metal’, and that is what this is.
HB: Who are the musicians that recorded your EP and releases to date? Have you found anyone for your live gigs? I heard you were looking…
VS: I recorded everything in the EP and in my debut album ‘Abolishing The Obsolete System’ by myself. My close buddy/brother Sunny D’Souza collaborated some guitar solos with me in the 2005 released EP ‘Ashwamedh’. Composer, Singer and Guitarist Prashant Vadhyar, and Ramki of Chicago, USA based death metal band ‘Noesis’ collaborated with guest vocals in ‘Abolishing The Obsolete System’.
About these guys, Sunny is a session guitarist and guitar teacher. We parted ways after ‘Ashwamedh’ to form a guitar instrumental project named ‘Project X’ for fans of shredding. However, due to our hectic schedules, we could not continue with the project and so it’s pretty much dead now. Prashant and I compose and produce music for TV commercials, short films, etc. Ramki is a death metal vocalist whom I know from the past 4 years.
I have not been very active in the Mumbai extreme metal live scene since 2005. Once again, I am trying to make a line-up of musicians to perform live with Amogh Symphony. It’s very hard to find musicians for such music because of two reasons. Firstly, lots of patience and time is required to play such music. For me, it’s easy to play and not to get tired of it because I spent five years with this project until now. Convincing other members to follow your writing and expecting them to read your mind to understand everything is one of the toughest things to do. I think that’s why great new musicians like Misha (Bulb), Keith Merrow and Ben (Cloudkicker) are doing everything alone but they are still trying to make full line-ups. Secondly, there is no money in progressive music. Indian music industry is a peculiar one and many great session players and music composers are living a financially weak life. I have to make sure that doesn’t matter if I get returns from the shows or not but at least these guys should be paid well. Keeping all these things in mind, once again I am auditioning musicians for the line-up. I have received demo audios from many musicians around the globe showing interest for sessions. If I can’t find the right musicians, least all I can do is that I will continue with my Guitars, Gear / Set-up with Laptops, Synths and other digital + analog toys. Apart from Amogh Symphony, I am working on a bunch of projects with musicians from United States, Brazil and Japan. I will keep you all updated with these on MySpace.
HB: Oh, that sounds very interesting! You’re now working on a project with Luke Jaeger (Sleep Terror) which is cool. Is this just a musical collaboration or are you working on something bigger?
VS: Luke is an excellent musician who never limits himself to metal. He wanted to experiment with some new tracks. After collaborating in a dual guitar jam track, we discovered that we have lots of similarities with understanding. Technical death is definitely not what we were thinking about this time. Our concept of writing is to execute metal riffs with sampling and synth programming in a soundtrack manner i.e. songs which you can place with a visual of a fiction. We are trying to get this music out in American and Indian Film Industry for complete background music score work for Sci-Fi and experimental movies. At the moment, we are trying to explore more. Can’t say if it’s going to be a stable project or just a collaboration because I live in India and Luke lives in Washington, USA. We both are broke musicians, ha-ha. Fingers crossed for everything though.
HB: You brought out your second EP ‘Abolishing The Obsolete System’ a few months back, which is still gaining loads of critical acclaim. Your comments on this?
VS: Thanks for the support. Initially, I was upset when my album got uploaded for download right after 7 days of the album release. But when I think of worldwide fans, I am happy that at least somehow they have the full album now. For an unsigned artist like me, producing 3000 – 5000 CDs for fans around the globe wasn’t possible. Fund returns are always important for independent musicians like us but it our first priority that the maximum number of fans get the album, no matter how. Thanks to pirates for making my job easier.
HB: What are the themes behind your music?
VS: ‘Abolishing The Obsolete System’ is a concept album based on one of my science fiction film-scripts which I wrote last year (Apart from playing and composing music, I also study Film-making/Direction, Scriptwriting And Editing.) As you can see, all the seven songs are linked with each other. This album is basically a soundtrack/background music score representation of that script in a progressive music manner. I won’t go in detailed description of the script because that will be too long and boring. The theme is about Cyborgs and Sub-Human Sapiens reading and learning Human’s corrupted mind and making replicas. It’s also about the gruesome future of earth’s climate and the result of Ozone layer’s damage. More importantly, the gruesome result of spreading terrorism and political war and racial discrimination. In this album, I tried my best to execute the script as close as I can without lyrical interpretation and vocals. It was important to execute the song ‘Swallowing The Infected Sun’ with lyrics and vocals because the vocal signifies the third person i.e. ‘Time’. On the other hand, Prashant’s vocal appearance in ‘Cyborg Activation’ and ‘Greenhouse Effect’ signifies Humanity.
Conceptually, according to the script, the album inlay and artwork signifies Rahu in the form of a giant Cyborg who is swallowing the sun to save Earth from the high wavelengths of ultra-violet rays. Basically, it’s like a folklore representation of advanced solar layering in the place of Ozone layer that works like a magnifying glass to sunrays. Some Hindu priests believe that Rahu (who was a negative character in Hindu mythology, the Giant Cyborg on the cover symbolizing him) takes the form of the anti-magnifying layer which the modern humans think as an invention by the Sub-Sapien (Post-Cyborg prototypes ) leaders. It covers the magnifying layer made by the Cyborg Main Frame around the Sun to burn Earth. It signifies the ‘Analog Meets digital’ concept of instrumentation.
HB: Damn, that’s really intense. I would love to watch the movie if it actually got released! Ok, your first EP released in 2005 was titled ‘Ashwamedh’. From this to ATOS to your new upcoming album, how do you feel you have grown as a musician and a songwriter?
VS: Everything was a great experience. ‘Ashwamedh’ was a demo of four tracks that was released for limited distributed in the year 2005 by Kollosal (UK). It was recorded on a full analog recording set up with no metronome and no MIDI at all, everything in real time. It was more or less like a mixture of Progressive Metal with 40% death metal and lots of fusion of Indian elements. I learned many things from the honest feedback from lots of senior musicians and critic listeners. Initially, fusing jazz and classical music with progressive tech death was the idea. I dropped the idea of using the seven-string guitar after ‘Ashwamedh’ because it wasn’t matching at all. I worked on a new guitar tone which is more or less like a hybrid between Seattle Grunge and Old School British Heavy Metal. Finally I learned that there are much better things than sweep picking, harmonic minor, diminished tapping, mindless shredding and relentless double bass pedaling. I still have to discover a lot though.
HB: What can fans of your previous work expect from your new EP ‘Scared Execution’?
VS: Oh, there is a hell of a lotta confusion, it seems. It was ‘Sacred Execution,’ not ‘Scared’! ‘Sacred Execution’ is an unreleased EP which I made after ‘Ashwamedh’. I decided not to release the EP because I wasn’t happy with the same old ‘Meshuggah-ish grooves’ and ‘tech death breakdowns’ ideas. So I uploaded the tracks ‘Concrete Of Lies’ and ‘My Third Eye’ from that EP for download on MySpace just to get the right feedback from senior musicians and critics. Critics liked those tracks but that’s just because people’s minds were already attached with the kind of style which bands like The Faceless and Necrophagist were making. Every band started following the same style. I refused to do the same and decided not to release ‘Sacred Execution’.
About the next album, the making of the plan-chart is on. Things will be easier for me if I find a good record label. Money/fund return is not the main priority because I am already working hard on several music projects and learning quite a lot at the same time. But atleast, more people should be able to get the CD. I really want to play this project live but that is still a second priority to me. I have loads of work to do in the music industry and here my attempt is to make things a little better. Experimental and Metal musicians abuse the mainstream, considering it ‘rotten and dirty sell out stuff’. I personally don’t think in that direction. I am trying to fuse modern cinema’s new experimental ideas with Amogh Symphony’s concept of post-progressive/math/tech death metal music. I am studying filmmaking and I hope may be 4 or 5 years later I will be able to execute properly. So yeah, the world is going to see something new and experimental which really makes some sense. That’s all I can at this moment. Feedback from fans are always welcome. I have an exciting news for all the fans which is yet to be announced. Please do keep your eyes on the blog section.
HB: A few years back, ‘Ashwamedh’ was signed on by Kolossal Productions, UK. Evidently, that didn’t work out, right? So are you looking for a new Indian or International label to sign you up?
VS: Oh yes, that would be great. But I hope there won’t be legal issues related to keeping copyrights, Nowadays, hardly any good artist get royalties until and unless they are as hot and talented as crooners like Christina Aguilera.
HB: A lot of people seem to remember you as the drummer of Infinite Ashes, a Pune based nu-metal band. What happened to that project?
VS: That band is dead. Vedant joined IIIrd Sovereign and I continued with my career. Guitarist DG has settled in Chennai with his wife. Uday reformed Infinite Ashes in Mumbai with new members. Though I am still in touch with Vedant and Uday, the teenage days of useless anger and so called ‘brootality’ is gone. It’s just another ‘Rock On’ story now. Ha-ha.
HB: How can people who haven’t heard your music yet get hold of it?
VS: Unfortunately, all the CDs I printed were sold 2 months back. I am planning to make some more prints. I will post the details on Amogh Symphony’s official MySpace page.
HB: Any words of advice to our readers and your fans out there?
VS: Thanks a lot for your love and support. And a big thanks to Headbangers India for this interview. I am honored.