Name: Elephant Stone
Members: Rishi Dhir, Miles Dupire, Robbie MacArthur, Jason Kent
Interviewee: Rishi Dhir
Occupation: Singer, songwriter, guitarist
Recent release: Elephant Stone's deluxe version of their 2020 album Hollow is out via Elephants On Parade.
Recommendations: 100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez; The Arnolfini Portrait - Jan van Eyck.
If you enjoyed this interview with Rishi Dhir of Elephant Stone and would like to find out more, visit the band's official website. They're is also on Instagram, twitter, Soundcloud, and Facebook.
When did you start writing/producing/playing 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’ve been playing in bands since the late 90s … wow, I’ve aged myself!
I started Elephant Stone in 2006. My early influences (and they’ve pretty much stayed with me since) are the Beatles, The Who, The Kinks, The Small Faces …
A great song makes me feel like nothing else … an almost spiritual sensation.
Some people experience intense emotion when listening to music, others see colours or shapes. What is your own listening experience like and how does it influence your approach to music?
See previous answer. (laughs) Definitely an out of body experience … an indescribable high.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
I guess I’m always a student of music and always learning new things.
After leaving my previous band in 2006, it took a while to find my personal music voice. Playing the sitar and my affinity for Hindustani classical music has played a huge role in my melodic understanding.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
I write what I know. Sometimes, I try new things … challenge myself to create music / sounds that I haven’t done before.
It’s important, I think, to challenge yourself and let your identity evolve organically.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
The creation process always begins with a feeling. When I’m writing a song, I need to feel something … Once the creation part is done, I can then start being more analytical and dissect what I’ve done and put it back together. But the creation process should be free and non-judgemental.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
I am interested in creation music that is real and meaningful. I know I’m standing on the shoulders of giants ...
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
I guess having my home studio has completely change my music creation process. It has provided me with an endless supply of tools in which to write a song … create, deconstruct, re-create, deconstruct … and so on.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
Every morning starts out with an espresso and the me hiding in my basement away from my 3 kids for an hour. I usually strum a guitar and let the music guide me .... some days present something inspiring ... other days not so much.
I wear my creative hat in the morning. However, in the evening time I usually revisit my ideas from earlier in the day with a more critical eye ... If I’m feeling it, I’ll record a demo and see where it goes from there ...
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
Recording Hollow (2020) was very exciting as it was the first album I tracked fully at my new (at that time) home studio. I wasn’t against the studio clock, so I really allowed myself to experiment with arrangements and songwriting.
The studio environment definitely dictates the final product.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
I enjoy the solitude of the initial creative process ... When I feel I’ve taken the composition / song as far as I can take it, I usually bring in the rest of the band … either individually or as a group.
Or, I just play the demo for my wife and gauge her reaction. (laughs)
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
My art is 100% influenced by the world I see and all that I do not see. Music is everywhere … society would be a very drab and dark place without music.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
My wife and I had a miscarriage in 2007. Music became my therapy and outlet to help me get through that time. For a while after that, I would tap into the sadness I felt back in 2007 for lyrical inspiration …
Luckily, I am now able to create without hiding in the dark corners of my mind.
There seems to be increasing interest in a functional, “rational” and scientific approach to music. How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
I’m not too sure. Music, to me, is all about inspiration and following a dream.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
Ultimately, I make music for myself. I also make a great cup of joe. Very different things.
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
The world is built upon celestial vibrations and music is a part of that.