Unconventional methods with Unnayanaa
Unnayanaa aka Prashant Pallemoni, Has been constantly pushing boundaries through his style of DJing and Music Production for many years now. He’s been a flag bearer especially for African and Electronic music since 2006 and has seen a steady rise in popularity for his style of Afro, House and Electronic music in India and around the world. His last track “Taht Min Aini” was played by literally every DJ on the planet.
His music production and collaborations with other artists have been played by top DJ’s such as Ame, Dixon, Trikk, Toto Chiavetta, Marcus Worgull, Solomun consistently for the last two years. His tracks have been remixed by Toto Chiavetta, Osunlade and Trikk for releases in November 2019 on Toto Chiavetta’s label Border of Light (Italy).
He performed on the Redbull stage at Magnetic Fields in 2018 last year. His remixes have reached the top 20 Afro/Latin/Brazalian charts on Traxsource and Beatport. His music has been part of noteworthy labels over the years such as Itstillmusic (Chicago), Papa Records (London), Rainy City Music (Manchester), Atypical Dopeness (New York), Borders of Light (Italy). Unnayanaa’s new feather in the hat: Now an artist for Toto Chiavetta’s Label Borders Of Light.
We had a word with Prashant in the midst of his travels to give us a quick insight into his process and advice he’d like to give upcoming producers.
Unnayanaa: Hey. Thanks for having me on board.
You use a lot of unconventional sounds in your productions, how do you approach each session?
I approach every track I make differently, depending on the lead element. I always start with the lead element, vocals or a particular instrument and I use a lot of unconventional sounds than the usual things you hear in electronic music. More afro, ethnic kind of sounds that stand out from the others.
For one of my recent tracks I was using an Ethiopian Vocal, which I’d recorded in a studio with the vocalist. I’ve never worked with Ethiopian vocals before. The scale and melodic movement of this is very different. So I had to find some kind of middle ground that works. Because I feel in dance music you can’t really complicate things too much. You gotta keep it as simple as possible. In Jazz it’s different, in any other form of music also it’s different but for dance music listeners it needs to be as easy as possible, or as melodic as possible.
Your music is very organic and different from the usual dance music spectrum, especially with your use of unconventional sounds. Was this a sound you always wanted to go for or something that evolved over the years?
In my earlier days, say around 2016-2017 I used to make more soulful music, that was the sound I was going for. My music had a lot of chords and stuff in it. But I had a hit track that became a big hit and I was caught in these two worlds where my heart wants to make really soulful stuff but the audience expects me to play a lot of electronic music. So I try to club them together where there’s a middle ground for both.
Do you have any specific techniques or go to things that you do on each track you work on?
Yeah I do. I go through many combinations and permutations before I lock down on any idea. So there’s a lot of struggle that I go through before I finalise. For me, I come up with 8-10 ideas for 1 particular track. Which can be a problem at times, trying to stick to one idea from the many that I have. Which is a blessing and a curse to be able to make a lot.
My process when I start with a track is, I listen to the time signature of the main element/vocal. I’m very conscious about making a track musical while having the electronic sound. The thing is today, people want noise. When I say noise I'm not talking about it from a negative point of view, i’m not saying the music is noise but they need that element of noise in the music. Which is that additional distortion or so that adds on to the sound. I don’t think this is necessarily needed but that’s what the trend is now. As long as you can take something that’s melodic and add that distortion and noise to it, your sound is evolving between musical and non musical.
What’s your favourite Ableton plugin?
The Wavetable. I love using the Wavetable from Ableton. The cool thing about it is you can automate a lot of parameters, even the wave shapes on Wavetable which is very cool. The cooler thing about Wavetable is I can bring in my own wave shapes/audio files from outside and I just need to drag and drop it into Wavetables oscillators.
Since you have multiple ideas for a single track, how long do you take to finish tracks?
Like I said earlier, I will have 8-10 ideas for one track itself. If I come up with something that fits the main element, I let it sit for a while and try something else, layer a few things and put it together. I take time with every idea, I don’t rush into it. Whenever I think it’s ready, that’s when I put it out. If you look into my project files you’ll see I make multiple versions of the one track with all the different ideas I have.
How do you go about processing the sounds you use or making it fit into your style? And how do you finally mix it down?
If it’s a live recording, I record it clean. And I already have an idea of how it will fit into my track. Processing wise on Ableton I’ll do a basic EQ and compressor. Towards the end when I want to drive it I put it through my tape machine. Especially string instruments and vocals. It adds that extra warmth and nice analog feel to it. When I’m finished with the track and mix it down, sometimes I even send the entire song through the tape machine to get the warmth of it.
I also use Izotope’s Neutron 3 and relay. They’re really really good for mix downs. They also have a visual mixer that I use a lot. Basically you put the relay on to any channel you want and the visual mixer on the master channel. When you open up the visual mixer you’ll find all the tracks that have a relay on will show up here and you can put it wherever you want - levels as well as pan it left or right. It’s like you can create your own stereo picture right here, it’s really easy.
This is perfect for quick mix downs, especially if it’s a track I just finished and want to test it out in a club. You can open up Neutron 3 elements and just choose a preset and it’s done.
You can also use their track assistance, select what you’re going for. Play your track and it’ll analyse it and it’ll give you a mix down based on that in just a few minutes.
You may not always get the best mix but it gives you a playable version for a club and test out how the crowd reacts to it.
You use a lot of recorded sounds, Do you have any specific methods when you process samples or your folly recordings, something that’s signature to you?
Not really, I try not to do the same thing again. Maybe when I’m using the Wavetable to drop the sample in because there’s so many options with the Wavetable that I can try out and there’s so many variations with changing just the waveform, or automations. With Wavetable in specific, you get something different from what you put into it. So I definitely drop samples into Wavetable to see what it gives me. Prior to this I’d just use the Sampler or Simpler to chop and select, add a beat repeat to the chain and some other units to make it a bit more fatter, some basic EQ to clean up and add some effects to it.
I always like to keep the option of being able to be surprised with what is happening in my project. If it fits, great! I’ll keep it.
So the only thing I keep constant is my mixing and mastering processes. The creative processes are always changing depending on what I’m working with.
Huge thanks to Prashant for taking the time to do this for us.
You can follow & listen to Unnayanaa's music on the following links:
Unnayanaa on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/unnayanaa/
Unnayanaa on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2vvnbj7sKT8Yd8ArfqENPp
Unnayanaa on Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/unnayanaa/349743893