Arj Chawda #mymusicstory
#mymusicstory #creativeminds #growwithus
We’re sharing the music stories of industry veterans, aspiring young musicians and entrepreneurs to help others make informed decisions when shaping their own story.
Producer Arj Chawda tells his music story:
At the age of seven I wanted to learn the violin at school, but I applied and the class was full. I remember crying my eyes out! My sister helped me choose an alternative and I rejected every suggestion until we got to the drums. Any young kid would love to play the drums, it’s ridiculously fun!
I latched on to the drums, outperforming everyone in my school, dedicating my lunchtimes, mornings before class and after school, to playing, practicing, and smashing them drums! I wanted to be the best drummer there ever was. That drive I had to become the best was valuable. As a kid, you don’t really think of the practicalities of life, the risks, the sensibilities. You just go for it, and that’s what I love the most about growing up with music. I kept going and going with the drums. I entered competitions, joined a samba band, went to live drummers exhibitions, ate, breathed and slept thinking about drumming. I wanted to become a professional drummer as my career.
In this period, I started messing around with a bit of free software I obtained through a cereal pack called, ‘eJay’. It was a loop-based software where you can arrange loops and fit them together like a jigsaw. I loved this shit!
After high school, I attended community college, where I started to study music technology. I had graduated off of eJay and had started using fruity loops as my main producing software. I loved life! I was making beats! A couple of years went by in college and I learnt how to use Cubase. This opened my eyes up to other DAW’s and how they all essentially are the same.
Anyway, back to my drumming life… When I was 16 I entered a competition in the UK called ‘Mike Dolbears Young Drummer of The Year 2006’. I sent in a submission video and soon enough I was shortlisted down to the final 12 candidates, at which point I had to perform live at Leamington Spa. I went to the final, I played, I fucked up. Nerves consumed me. I’ve never felt more disappointed with myself. From that day on, I knew I wasn’t born for live gigs.
After the drumming competition, I thought I’d pave my future by taking out a private loan with Barclays for almost £6,000 and attending DrumTech, a famous drummers institution in Acton, London. I studied there for a year, got my certificate, and came out really unhappy with my decision. I just wasn’t feeling the drums anymore. I loved playing the drums, I knew I was good at it, but I knew I didn’t want to make it my career anymore. After DrumTech I focussed on my music production and the people around me were very supportive of that.
I hit 18 and I needed a job. I got a job in HMV but stuck to weekend work because I didn’t want retail to consume me, my time or mind. In the weekdays, I would make tracks and try to work with other artists. Working at HMV gave me money to build up my home studio. I built it up, starting off with entry level equipment, a small desktop, a little computer and cheap monitors. Over the years, I was able to afford high end monitoring, computers, rack units, the lot.
I stayed at HMV over the weekends for 7 years however I didn’t want to settle for retail. I wanted to become successful as young as possible! I kept trying to make music with people, put out my own music, and just hope something would come to me. I was naive. In 2013, I reached out to a friend who worked at a studio, and sent him long messages, begging for him to let me to come and sit in the sessions. He helped me up and gave me a chance. He saw I had the drive, passion and talent. I picked up ProTools, went to the studio and sat in on some sessions. I learnt more in that one week than I did in many years of producing from my bedroom. The studio recognised my abilities as a producer, and commissioned work out to me. I also took on a role as a freelance studio engineer for them, for a more stable income.
Both of these roles were and still are, seasonal and freelance. Working through the winter months for 6 months at a time. In my first year with this studio I took on an online Master’s Degree with Berklee Music for Production using ProTools. At the same time, I was working my ass off on weekends at HMV to ensure I wasn’t putting all my eggs in one basket. I was KNACKERED, but I knew I had to do this.
I’m still working for the studio today with those roles. I Know I still have so much knowledge to take in and put into practise, I’m certainly not done yet!
I now look back on my life, and understand ‘why’ things happened the way they did. Maybe I wasn’t ready to step into a real world studio situation at a very age, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. I’ve also learnt, that if you want something, you go out there and get it. CLAIM IT. Don’t ever just sit there, thinking the world owes you anything and is going to hand it to you on a silver plate. This is a harsh industry and a harsh world. There are millions of people out there, JUST like you, who want to be successful. What makes you think you deserve it more than the others?
I’ve also realised how just being a good person, with good energy and charisma can get you very far in the music industry. If you’re a bit of a prick, and the type of person to be very cocky and obnoxious, you won’t get far. Being humble certainly pays off for your career. So go out there, and claim your seat at the table.
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