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How Scribe’s Akshay Rajpurohit became Aqua Dominatrix
Adwait A. Patil  17th Jan 2015

Akshay Rajpurohit. | Photo: Naman Saraiya

kshay Rajpurohit's studio is set up in the same room he spent most of his childhood in. The door opens up to a big desk in the opposite corner. A pair of monitors rest on either side of it with a large screen mounted on the wall. "To create music I needed to be where I've been my entire life," he tells me as I get acquainted with his workspace.

Rajpurohit's latest release is under the moniker Aqua Dominatrix. While listening to the record, titled Sadomist, you're immediately transported to an era when synth pop ruled the airwaves. Sharp drum sounds, melodic notes and hard, dance-friendly bass lines hit your ears the way Harold Faltermeyer and Imagination's tunes did throughout the '80s.

Though Rajpurohit has been working in the music industry for close to 10 years, this album is the first collection of Akshay's music that comes close to ambient electronic music. "I've always been a musician before a guitarist," he says while recounting his work with Scribe and Pangea that set the stage for his synth escapades. Rajpurohit started writing ambient electronic music around 2005. His drive to explore the sound palette of various analog instruments and obsession with new avenues of composition took nearly three years to materialise as the debut Aqua Dominatrix album.

Rajpurohit has been making music since the early 2000s, beginning with the erstwhile nu metal band Skincold. His work on records by Scribe (Confect, Mark of Teja, Hail Mogambo) and Pangea (Snails Are When I Was Young) put his guitar work on display. While each release features material that has been written using a variety of synthesisers and drum machines, this remains a small portion of the vast sonic soundscapes both his bands have to offer. "I played a lot of synth parts with this exact keyboard," he says, pointing towards a white M Audio Venom. "I have an infatuation with things that can produce noise which I can sculpt into whatever music I like," Rajpurohit says, professing his love for hardware instruments.

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“I would always start with the melody. The melody is the most important thing in my entire mix, followed by the kick drum, bass and choke,” Rajpurohit says, offering a capella renditions of each.

Rajpurohit steered clear of all software while writing this album. "Software has unlimited resources, it just depends on how much RAM you have. The fact that [a synth] is not 1's and 0's and it takes raw electricity, shapes it into sound and gives you something as an end result, is something that I've always liked about it," he says. He continues to tell me about a self-imposed 12 track limitation he stuck to while writing this record. The synth pop roots in Aqua Dominatrix's music and his fondness for sounds that resonated with dance music enthusiasts in the '70s and '80s are evident. "I would always start with the melody. The melody is the most important thing in my entire mix, followed by the kick drum, bass and choke," he says, offering a capella renditions of each.

With no software involved in the songwriting process, the Aqua Dominatrix album is essentially a one-take record. "It goes into the computer as one file, so I can't mix it anytime later," Rajpurohit says, pausing to clarify with animated hand gestures, "I can make it sound bigger or smaller later, but I can't change the sound of the kick drum." Through Aqua Dominatrix, Rajpurohit has ventured into a genre of music far removed from his previous work with Pangea and Scribe. Performing live is something he is still working out, and he declined an offer to play a gig in New Delhi recently. "I really want to play [Mumbai] first and get my ropes right," he says, before admitting to have never been onstage without a guitar. He's had friends call dibs on being his gear tech (it takes him close to 15 minutes just to set up gear for a single song) and he's also thought of having musicians on an electronic kit and bass live on stage, but that's still some time away.

While there is a burgeoning community of musicians who identify themselves as "producers", Rajpurohit's discipline and vision steer him clear of the herd. Yes, you could pinpoint the influences, but the process he follows and the musical output that he's generated over the past 10 years gives us reason to watch out for him.

 
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