SAMIK “THE SYMPHONY” BAU ENT. INTERVIEW
Samik Ganguly also known as “The Symphony” is an American record producer, DJ, and writer with a classically trained background as a violinist. One of the co-founder’s of BAU (Business As Usual) Entertainment, The Symphony has been featured in various showcases and events, some of the most recent being !llmind’s B.L.A.P. showcase, the H.I.T.M. Beat Battle, a six-time iStandard Producer Showcase winner, and recently beat out over two-thousand producers across the country to become the winner of the 2012 iStandard Producers “Beast of the Beats VI” competition leading to a sponsorship with Monster Energy. Maschine Masters caught up with The Symphony to ask everything from production, to being better at the business.
You are a 6 time iStandard Producer Showcase Winner including the Grand finale Champion “Beast of The Beats VI”. Describe the format of getting your beats ready and how important is that type of event for up and coming producers to attend.
There’s a really long answer to that first part, but I’ll try to keep it short. When I used to pick my set-lists, I would pick the records that best represented me and what I did. I’ve been a DJ since the age of 16, so I knew how to play music to a crowd, so I just would try to put the songs in order of what would keep the crowd’s attention.
I think the iStandard platform is an important one for producers. It’s a proving ground. Some take it as competition, others see it as an opportunity to hand out CD’s or business cards. You get to hear what your peers are doing and make some great friends. Winning is cool, but what’s always been appealing to me is that you get 5 minutes to play the music you created for people you don’t know and some of them may happen to be industry legends. It’s not certain that it will change your life, but it has been known to happen from time to time.
What is your current production set up?
There’s not much to it anymore, I produce in Pro Tools which I run on my MacBook Pro, M-Audio Axiom Midi Controller, Maschine MkII, Avalon M5 Compressor, 2 and I have a couple of Event 6 monitors.
When creating a track, what do you start with? Melody or the drums?
It varies every time I sit down to create. I’m always hearing melodies in my head, so that is usually the first thing I put down, but if I come across a drum with an interesting texture to it, that could set the tone for the whole record.
You are a classically trained musician, what are the advantages of playing multiple instruments as a producer?
I would say an advantage is having a knowledge base to call upon. I was trained classically at a young age on the violin, so growing up playing in concerts I understood harmonics, arrangement and how different instruments could compliment each other. These days, when I sit down with a musician, I can tell them exactly what I want because I have the proper means to communicate it to them. It all makes for a better record.
Sample or no sample?
I have been known to sample from time to time, but the majority of my catalog is sample free.
What are some things that your are doing to brand yourself as a producer?
Social media is significantly important in my work, so I’m constantly trying to find new ways to connect to people whether it be through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Soundcloud, etc.
Aside from social media, I’d say what’s most important to me as a branding technique is traveling. Being there, wherever “there” is, makes a monumental difference. Winning iStandard’s showcases and then their Beast of the Beats VI event had given me a great deal of exposure. I decided to use that momentum and started traveling to different cities with them and had the opportunity not only to showcase in many of the cities they toured, but also had the chance to build relationships with a lot of dope individuals. Also, event’s like A3C, ASCAP Expo, SXSW are incredible places to network and meet people.
What is next for Symphony and the BAU imprint for 2014?
This year is going to be pretty incredible. I’ll be getting into the studio with my BAU artists D.O.E Boy Philly, PT, DS and 2ew Gunn Ciz to work on their new projects. The guys are going to be doing a lot more shows and events this year. BAU will also be adding a couple of producers to the roster and they are pretty scary.
As for me, I have a record coming out with Cyhi the Prynce tentatively titled “Fear of Flying”. I’ll be launching my website in February (for now you can check out BAUENT.com). There’s an instrumental album I’m dropping in late January entitled “Omnia Vincit Musica” (Latin for “Music Conquers All”). I ended 2013 with doing a record for “Walking With Dinosaurs”, so there’s some more Film/TV stuff in the works. There are records in the pipeline with some major artists and more collaborations with some talented producers coming this year, so look out for that.
I noticed that all your production has great sound quality, How important is sound quality when working on placements? Describe your process working with an engineer like Matthew Weiss.
Thank you. Sound quality is huge to me as a producer and as a consumer. When working on placements, the ideal situation is to turn in something that is done and ready to go. If the artist hears it and loves how it sounds, all they’ll have to do, is track their vocals into the template.
As far as working with Matt, we’ve been working together over the last several years and we share the same thought process on giving the listener 100% of the experience. Generally, I’ll make the record and mix it down the way I want it to sound. When I take it over to Matt, we’ll go through the record and he’ll put everything in it’s place sonically and add more depth and dynamics to the record. I’m pretty much convinced he’s the only engineer who can handle my production when it comes to mixing. I’ve heard from one artist I worked with recently who said his engineer opened up the session I sent over and was intimidated.
Being the Co-Founder of Business As Usual Entertainment, teamed with artist and producers, how often do you create beats as a collaborate effort? What are some advantages working with a team?
Under BAU we currently have four producers: Sound Junkie, D.O.E Boy Philly, 750, and myself. Our artists are D.O.E Boy Philly, PT, DS, 2ew Gunn Ciz, and Loose. As producers, we’ve collaborate many times, often resulting in memorable records since our styles are very different. Some of our artists have even delved into the production realm, and to me that is important because I believe artists should know and understand what goes into the production, mixing, and engineering process so that they can create something that is unique to them.
As far as advantages to working with a team, they are endless. In my experience, we push each other to be great because we want to see each other succeed. There are no weak links in the chain because we’ve gone through so much over the last ten years, and we’re still here and just as dedicated if not more than we were when we first started a decade ago in my parents basement. We’ve never been closer to our goals and that is all because of having a team. Not just any team, having the right team.
You are a producer that can create multiple genres, what is your favorite type of track? And does your style crossover to other genres?
I’m always inclined to do a couple changes in my records so I tend to cross over into other genres often, so those are my favorite types of tracks to do. I also get bored very easily, so that may or may not have something to do with it.
Being based out of Philly, how crucial is it as a producer to work with artists from your area?
I think it’s incredibly important. That’s one of the quickest ways possible to get your music to the people. If the people in Philadelphia like it, you’ll be good everywhere else.
What is your favorite vst or sound module for your “go to” sounds? Favorite live instrument?
My go to for drums is Native Instruments Battery, NI’s Kontakt and Komplete . Don’t worry, they’re not paying me to say that. Although they could if they wanted to. Wouldn’t be against it. My favorite live instrument this week are drums.
In the past we have seen reports of producers not getting paid or proper credit for their work. What are some business tips that you can share to help protect the producer?
Paperwork. My production agreement states that I need to be credited as “Samik The Symphony” on all masters of the record on any medium now known or created in the future. Copyright the record, which you can now do online for a few bucks. Most importantly, following up with whomever you need to in order to make sure that this happens. A lawyer is never a bad idea. Learning how to read contracts, also not a bad idea.
Any encouraging words for Maschine Masters community?
The one thing I’ve always known about myself as a producer is that I have a different sound for whatever reason whether it be my influences or classical training, who knows. So I accepted that and did different, the best and most ratchet way that I knew how, and it just so happened to work. Don’t be afraid to do different. It’s all art at the end of the day. Shoutout to Maschine Masters, iStandard, BAU, my friends, and family for all the support! Business!!!
Likewise Samik! We’re sure we will be hearing a lot more from you and the entire BAU imprint in the near future! Congrats on all your success and keep up the outstanding work!