Updated: Jun 5, 2021
Written by Hrushabh Talapadatur
Edited by Karina del Mar | Mar. 2021
Call It a Day (2020)
Nirvan Athreya’s first single release as a collaborating artist, “Call It a Day” can be best described in two words - moments and discovery. From the intro blasting the song's hook performed with conviction by singer-songwriter, J. P. Goldman giving the impression that this is a country/rock song, the lyrically aggressive yet laid back rap verses performed by rapper and producer MaDiac, to the meticulous, well-thought-out production, vocal effects and sampling. Throughout the song, you can feel that Nirvan is discovering his producer self as he leaves subtle bits of experimentation mixed with a tinge of teenage excitement. This is most felt in the mixing processing of lead and background vocals combined with ad-libs tastefully soaked with crispy wet reverbs and delays.
MaDiac’s rap narrates the constant struggle for survival that is experienced by a majority of young people all around the world. So much so that there is no place left to enjoy or even acknowledge your own actions, because you always have to keep your “eyes on the pesos”. On the face of it, “Call It a Day” might sometimes sound like a celebration of the ‘hustle culture’, but as you journey through the song, you discover it is a question to the culture.
About Nirvan Athreya
Pushing the boundaries of musical confluence: This is the driving force of composer/producer, Nirvan Athreya’s creative philosophy. Owing to a diverse musical and cultural background, Nirvan’s artistic endeavors are experimental in nature. By drawing inspiration from styles such as Electronica, Indie Rock, Hip Hop, Jazz, Folk, Progressive Metal, Western, Middle Eastern and Indian Folk and Classical styles, he is able to make an intriguing blend of tranquil harmonies, rhythms and soundscapes that are reflected in his productions.
Nirvan has completed a degree in Contemporary Writing and Production at Berklee College of Music. At Berklee, he has collaborated and worked with a number of world renowned artists and composers, such as Vadim Neselovsky, Tigran Hamasyan, Ysay Barnwell to name a few.
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TALKZ (Video Transcription):
Part 1 : Creating Call It a day
Karina: Nirvan Athreya who just released his first single as a solo artist "Call it a day”. Nirvan is a producer, pianist and a musician. You recently graduated (from Berklee College of music) . Congratulations! How was that?
Nirvan: Great! I’ve been trying to do that for 10 years.
K: (Laughs) Mood! "Call it a day" was a song that was written and - you produced it - but it was written along in collaboration with rapper, MaDiac. Can you talk about that process?
N: Shit !
Okay. So, I had an assignment that I had to do for a Berklee class called Studio Writing and Production. I was supposed to listen to a top 40’s pop hit (2019), and compose another song in the style of that song; as inspired by that song. It ended up being a hip hop/country track and I needed someone to lay down the hip hop parts in it. I got in touch with Maxwell cause I had been working with him for 3 months prior to that. I sent him a text and he was like “yeah sure dude, I’d love to do it”. And I sent him the track without the vocals, which, to this day he doesn't know, but the first scratch rap that was on that track was me - and it really sucked.
K: No, It was really good.
N: Yeah, because Karina helped me write the lyrics for it. So, it's kind of your fault.
K: I gave you advice.
N: What advice! You basically rhymed everything and gave it to me.
N: So after that, I sent it to him. He said “yeah this is a great track. I want to work on it.” So he wrote a verse, recorded it and sent it to me . So it was kind of a remote collaboration.
Part 2 : Tracking
K:It's just a different approach when you do something for school versus incorporating that in your own musical portfolio.
N: Yeah! Basically the minute I called in two people to collaborate with me, it made it more legitimate for sure. I remember in the studio, in about 10 mins he (Madiac) was like, “Oh this is a new beat. It sounds amazing. He wrote a new verse based on the new beat.
K: On the spot in the studio?
N: Yeah on the spot. JP was also there - JP is the singer on the track. He sings the country part.
K: So the hook of the song. Which is the title of the song.
N: Yeah. So he tracked the hook, Maxwell tracked the rap, and it's done.
Part 3: Recording at TalkingLabz.
K: What would you say about your experience working at TalkingLabz studio and how do you feel that it reflected on the team dynamics?
N: First of all, it helps that my friends have a studio which I can use and which is literally 5 minutes away from my place. It was me and JP recording in there, and I had to record JP’s harmonies and stuff for the track. It was super comfortable, there was no hesitation, I hadn’t prepared anything, I didn't even know how the hell I wanted the harmonies to sound like. We just spent our time experimenting there. He suggested some harmonies, I suggested some harmonies, and we mashed both the things together and it basically came out great. So yeah it was a damn chill experience.
Interlude: How to make chai
N: Black tea has a lot less of the tea flavour in it than chai, because you boil the tea extra, and to compensate for the increase in the chai flavour, you have to add a lot of ginger and sugar . So you are basically using more resources, but the overall flavour is more strong.
Part 4: Releasing.
K: So - this is super exciting - You just released this song “Call it a day”, and it's always difficult to start releasing music. It takes a lot from you right.
N: I don't like ‘releasing ‘ music. I like making music and then when someone wants to listen to it, they’ll listen to it. But then releasing it, doing that whole promotional thing, trying to think which video is the best video - that's too much. I can't do that. You know the same bullshit that everyone goes through Like - oh this song my best attempt at this song? Is this my best mix? Does the production sound fine? Is it radio ready and all those existential questions you ask yourself. Which honestly, it doesn’t make any difference. At the end of the day, 10 people will listen to your song and move on with their lives. And that's the song.
K: It’s so difficult especially if you feel like you have to go through it alone. But you didn't have to go through it alone.
N: Yeah in a collaboration, especially, you are not alone that's the whole point of a collaboration. I think it is much easier to release music together.