Review: SoundCamp At UnBox 2013

19 February 2013

Forward thinking, art inspiring and learning oriented technology-meets-art-meets-design-meets-journalism (and more) platform: The UnBox Festival – was the most unconventional convention and the perfect spot for the second edition of SoundCamp. (Read about the origin of SoundCamp here)

Initiated by Adaptr and Border Movement, SoundCamp is essentially, a musical-collaborative programme that focuses on artists from South Asia and Germany within the scope of electronic music.

The Campsite:
A slight side step from the first round of SoundCamp which was held over 3 weeks in Sri Lanka in 2012 (as a residential project for collaborations between South Asian and German musicians/ producers); SoundCamp's UnBox Edition, was a more compressed version, held over 5 days in South Delhi at Zorba, under the all encompassing wings of UnBox, and co-hosted by audio-visual evangelistic duo - BLOT!

As if the mere setting of the campsite wasn’t enough, the team of producers/musicians involved brought a multifarious variety of props and chops to the table. The eclectic span ranged from analogue synth builders to professional jazz keyboardists - to give you a vague idea. Curated in a way which included the right links and the right gaps - the vibe of SoundCamp: ambience, participants, management and general attitude – was open ended but also goal driven, with an EP due to be released following the festival, but only 5 days to produce it.

The Plan:
The plan on day 1, the only pre-planned day, was to have listening sessions, so each producer involved could display some of their work to the rest of the team. It became clear by the end of the session, that there was no tangible way to define the sound space within which the tracks would lie. The influences, skill sets and ears involved were, simply put – eclectic, providing for a really colourful week with totally blank canvases and undefined boundaries to work with. An ideal scenario for any room full of musicians.

After splitting into 2 groups, in 2 separate makeshift studios, day 1 saw headway into a couple of tracks; perhaps unsurprising considering the number of competent producers involved, but still an achievement for 7 complete strangers. The days that followed included mini-collaborations, more splitting up into sub-groups, recording audio, sharing stems, sharing gear, sharing setups, knowledge exchanges, stealing tips and tricks, and an absolutely open and inspired platform for making sound.

The closing ceremony for UnBox, which had been hosting musical acts all weekend in Zorba’s amphitheatre, was to feature the SoundCamp team, and essentially all the sound that was made in the on-site studios.

With only a day to tie up loose ends, and work out an elaborate live set (allow me to elaborate): 3 laptops, 1 analogue synth station and drum machine, 1 keyboard, a couple of mics, a bass guitar and an incredibly pivotal mixing engineer, alongside plenty of controllers, buttons, knobs, faders and fx; the team kicked it off with a ‘drone session’ – analogue sounds drenched with digital fx and organic input. For the first 20 minutes they set a mood for a gritty audio journey that seemed to either completely engage and transfix or totally perplex the audience. That was followed by playing out live renditions of 4 tracks that had been created entirely at SoundCamp, the styles ranged from neo-jazz to right through to techno.

After the live play-outs, the campers slid into an undefined jam. Tastefully, tracks were composed on the fly, with synth parts, grooves and fx all controlled from different sources. As challenging to keep it slick as it was fun, the jam was gently brought to a halt after a few tracks, or better put – movements, blended into each other in a surprisingly sublime and organised fashion.

On a whole, SoundCamp revealed itself to be an eye opening spectacle, showcasing the possibilities and outcomes of collaborative efforts. Musically, culturally, mechanically and whole-heartedly.

The core team of campsters included:

Asvajit (SL)
Skilled DJ/producer and Sri Lankan underground EDM sub-culture missionary and developer.

Gaurav Malakar (IN)
DJ/musician/producer and one half of BLOT!

Ron Schneider (DE)
Producer/musician/engineer/electronic junkie and synth builder – Ron’s tools and toys at UnBox were mostly self made.

TL Mazumdar (GER/IN)
Jazz keyboardist, multi instrumentalist and organic input rep at SoundCamp.

Nucleya (IN)
DJ/producer/collaborator and international performer.

Suryakant Sawhney (IN) (PCRC)
Singer/guitarist/producer/gypsy. When asked what gear he brought to SoundCamp, his apt responsewas: “Myself, and the soundbank of Suryakant”.

Vinayak (IN)
DJ/ producer and skilled veteran of the Indian electronic music scene.

DJ/producer/musician from Mumbai.


Words: Sanaya Ardeshir (Border Movement)
Video: Tahska (Now Delhi)



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