In the studio with Gaurav Malaker

„The creative process is a tricky one, and it varies dramatically from profession to profession, and from one individual to another. We’re fascinated with that creative process here at Nicobar, and for us as well, one of the most significant cogs in that wheel is the space in which it all takes place. For artists and musicians, this place is the studio, and we’re sneaking into the studios of a few of our favourite makers. Each one is entirely its own beast; some are creative chaos while others are pristine, some are spendy investments, while others are more DIY. We want to see them all.„We visited the studio of Gaurav Malaker, probably better known to you simply as BLOT! A DJ and electronic music artist, with roots in mixed media performance, BLOT!’s audiovisual act has been an essential pillar of India’s nightlife and electronic music scene since 2007. BLOT!’s debut album Snafu (released on Universal Music) plastered the act onto the radar of Indian electronic music fans.

Gaurav, we discovered, isn't really one for big show-and-tells. You’re much more likely to be given a leg into his world via gigs and super-fun live sessions on the BLOT! Facebook page (synth and production paraphernalia tutorials anyone?). Still, we stopped by his home studio in Delhi, carpeted and mounted with enough equipment to fashion a mini homage to Hans Zimmer, to learn a little about his process, and thoughts on creative collaboration.
We were told that BLOT! Is a ‘creative collective’; tell us more.
It’s not a creative collective in the strictest sense of the term; we started out as an audio-visual production and performance ensemble and celebrated the fact the we used multiple forms of media to express ourselves. Over the years we worked with some very talented people (who are also our friends) so I guess that sense of it being a collective came about then. At BLOT!, at least for me, it’s never been only about the music or the video or any one thing, it’s about a state of mind and the expression that follows that state. The medium is usually flexible (art, music, video games whatever).

Describe the music you like.
In a sentence - I’d like to think of my music as a soundtrack that celebrates the joy in sorrow. However dystopian that sounds sorrow is perhaps an even more important emotion than love. On a more human level - melancholic, slightly upbeat, free and definitely well-produced.

In another life you’d be…?
A fighter pilot or a surgeon.

What’re you listening to?

My own tracks unfortunately, as I’m in a writing stage in my studio after a long time.

Tell us about that production process.
Well, this year for me has been just getting back to the basics, in a purer, less gimmicky sense, I’ve been decluttering and focusing on just the fundamentals. I just want to make people dance and smile at the moment.

How many instruments can you play in realtime?
I’m more like a (honorary) jack of a few and master of none - I can play the piano, drums and some hand percussion stuff to some degree in the studio, but I’m a little shy about playing them live. Nonetheless, recently I’ve been dragging my synths out to gigs and having fun with them. I’m more of a studio musician really, which is alarming because I make most of my living off live performances (haha).

Someone you’d like to work with?
Hans Zimmer, David August.

You probably have a lot of gear, but which is your favourite?
Would you ask someone to choose between his children? I do love my Juno and Prophet(s) a little extra much these days.

While travelling for gigs, you always pack…?

Tell us about the visuals in the live act.
It’s usually organic and vintage, and was mostly handled by Avinash (Kumar, the co-founder of BLOT!). To break it down to essentials: the focus was more on creating an installation that was immersive, rather than trying to make the DJ look like god.

Style for you is?
Something that makes you feel good, comfortable, confident and free.

You recently collaborated with design label LOVEBIRDS at Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai.

Yes, Gursi & Amrita are amazing and both my wife and I really like their stuff; there's definitely a common tangent in our sensibilities, so a LB x BLOT! collab was a natural fit. They allowed me to do whatever I wanted with the visuals and the music and they kept the space dark; it turned out to be a really amazing show that morphed into a dance party. I did the music for the FDCI fashion week for a couple of years in Delhi and this was nothing like it. I really feel edgy urban fashion and art and music are innately connected. Shows really need to be taken out of this, sterile, upmarket la-di-da ramp format because most people sitting on the front rows really have terrible taste and style that incubated overnight for just the fashion week. Fashion is for everyone and individual interpretation of fashion is style. If you restrict fashion you're killing style.

What’s next?
New music, new performances, a comic book, pop-surreal art posters and toys.