Name: Azu Hoyvoy
Occupation: Singer, songwriter, producer
Current release: Azu Hoyvoy's Future Literature EP is out on Milkman. Jai, the founder of Milkman, describes the project and the genesis of Future Literature, thus: "After many years of studying, working and living outside my country, it was finally time to come back to my hometown (Bombay) and work on something I always wanted to work on – putting up shows/concerts across India. I wanted to change the way people consumed music in India so I moved back to Bombay and started throwing parties with very alternative line-ups (Artists who no one had ever heard of in India) at unique locations across the country. From warehouses, to defunct office spaces to parking lots to Bollywood studios to rooftops – we make use of these unconventional spaces in our cities, set up a great sound system/ lighting and, make some really amazing parties and memories together. We face numerous, unimaginable challenges due to the fact that it’s India and things work very differently here. However, when things finally come together and there are thousands of passionate people lined up every month for an artist they have never heard of, it all makes sense and I feel great about what I’m doing.
On August 30th of this year, we finally put our first ever release titled Future Literature by Azu Hoyvoy. Last year, during the start of the pandemic, we suddenly had a lot of free time on our hands and it gave me a chance to start looking for an artist for our first release. Azu Hoyvoy was that person. I love his productions, it really represents the sound we’ve been pushing in India over the years. Also being a Bombay native like me, it made sense to have our first release come from him. I’m sure that Azu will have many great releases in the coming years, he’s extremely talented. This collection of tunes finds a very suitable corner in the eclectic and forward-thinking home of Milkman, and the result is an enjoyably mind-expanding, if sometimes disconcerting record."
Recommendations: Hagihara Takuya, artist; Alexandra Pacula, artist
If you enjoyed this interview with Azu Hoyvoy, visit him on Instagram for more information and updates.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started writing and making music at the age of thirteen or fourteen I think. Mostly RnB/funk styles and a little bit of alternative/indie styles as well. Influenced by artists like D’Angelo, Robert Glasper, Taylor Mcferrin, Kamasi Washington, The Strokes, Bon Iver, Tigran Hamasyan, Brad Mehldau, to name a few.
Producing/learning about working with software was recent, last year, February 2020. I was influenced heavily by artists/producers like Gantz, Commodo, Skee Mask, Identified Patient,Tzusing and many more … The parties that I was attending in Bombay from 2019 through to 2020 is what drew me to these sounds. I learned that electronic music, if presented in a certain way, can impact the way you see the potential behind drum syncopations and mind bending electronic sounds.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
Honestly, I'm still in search of my own voice/sound. There is so much beauty in every culture/sound/community, that it's hard to fall thoroughly in love with just one. Now that I've started producing, I can work towards finding my one true love!
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
I tend to have phases. There is new music coming out everyday that I can dig into so easily because of all these music platforms and I have these phases of listening to a range of genres, sometimes even in a day.
So I guess it depends on the mood I'm in and accordingly I will try to create something with the intention of serving the thoughts purpose.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
When I first started making music I did not have a clue as to how to use a software that makes music. It was embarrassing as a vocalist / songwriter / drummer, that I had to go over to a producer friend's place to create something. Now that I've started producing, I can create something without having to schedule a session with anyone. What's cool is that I can still bother them with their expertise from time to time!
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
It started with guitar and voice. Drums were next. I really enjoyed the idea of an instrument being primitive and all that. And then Logic was next. The fact that I could utilise all that I learned on the previous instruments (and many more) on Logic, blew my mind ...
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Drums. 100%. Drums. It allowed me to think of any instrument as something that can be rhythmically enticing.
In terms of technology, I'm still learning.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
All of the above. I've always enjoyed collaborating as I get to learn a whole lot through the process. Jamming and discussing ideas are my favourite.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I try to have a routine. But sometimes it isn't easy. I try to incorporate my family's business mind set and professionalism into my music work. That balance of discipline and creativity is essential.
When there is a project that requires my consistency, a routine will be laid out. I enjoy early mornings, so I try to make that happen. But sometimes the night hours give me some inspiration as it's super quiet and everyone's asleep.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
Well, the most recent one is this EP, Future Literature.
I had released a few tracks before Milkman was on board for this journey. The idea behind creating electronic music was simple, just to create something new and experimental.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
The ideal state of mind to create something would be to have pure intentions.
No strategies unfortunately. Just got to keep creating and have fun with it, until you hear something that interests you and then you build on it.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
I try not to romanticise the hurt part. Cause that just creates a mess. Every time I create something, I'm getting rid of what's not needed within.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
This is a top notch question. Hard for me to answer. But, like I mentioned earlier, there's beauty in every culture and I've been taught to appreciate and respect all that there is to offer. All I try to do is have a good time making music and then see where it takes me in terms of growth. Mistakes have been made and will be made. Best to use it as fuel to better myself and my work.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
Good visual art and sound go hand in hand of course. But, again, this is a tricky one. Hopefully I will have an answer for this as I move forward on this journey.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
The days of just putting an album out and people listening to it without having access to your day to day, has gone. Today, being consistent in social media is the way to go. It's important to keep with the times/reflect on the times and make a big noise on the internet and create a brand image at the same time. Without that image, its hard to go places or make money.
The entertainment industry is what I'm in, and its not easy to entertain everyone.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Music will tell us what is what if we pay close attention. In any case, all we are doing here is killing time. It's what we call “spiritual beings having a human experience.” The right setting with the right music will tell you that.