Musician, Producer and Audio Engineer Sashank Venkatesh Talks Musical Inspirations and New Music
“I believe if all of us can stick to the course and dare to go after what we want, we will be pleasantly surprised at the results” — Sashank Venkatesh
Please introduce yourself to the readers and how you first got into music:
I’m Sashank, aka Noxigen — a musician, producer and audio engineer currently living in Los Angeles. I’m originally from India, but I grew up in the middle east and moved back to India to attend high school. I’ve been studying music since I was 6 or 7, but I really only came to the realization that I wanted to make it my life and career sometime in high school. Nobody in my family is a professional in music or film, but they were always musically inclined, and I guess I just inherited that aptitude.
Who were some of your influences growing up?
I grew up listening to a lot of Indian film/classical music, which I think were crucial in shaping my taste and primitive listening skills. Then I discovered rock/pop music, and everything changed. Around the age of 13 to 15, I started to diversify my listening and my tastes began including video game music, which in hindsight was just an influence that needed to be unlocked, as the foundation of it was already planted (as I was very into games during my childhood). I still am. Music school added a lot of Blues, Jazz and R&B influence.
To be completely honest, my listening habits and influences are quite erratic. One minute I’ll be listening to Linkin Park and an hour later I’m vibing to Allen Stone or finding comfort with Brandi Carlile. Then the next day I’m listening to a Pokemon soundtrack. I guess I’m influenced by most music if I can figure out its story, purpose and perspective, which helps me gain value from it.
What kind of training have you had, if any?
I was trained in Indian Classical Music as a child and that took care of forming and developing my voice. It is something that I wish I had the maturity to appreciate more at that age. I started playing guitar in my teens and landed in 2 music schools where I started to pile up an enormous number of tools to guide, shape and support my art and other peoples too. Somewhere as a music school student I found a love for all things that were mixing/mastering/production related, whether it was the studio or live, and that began a (part-time) journey to become an audio engineer.
It has proven to be an invaluable tool as it gave me an added advantage in almost any situation. If I was acting as a recording/mixing engineer, I could provide adequate understanding of someone’s musical needs and as a musician I could easily explain and help the audio engineers I work with to get the best out of both of us. I am continuously adding to my skill set and learning newer and more efficient ways to do things. I consider myself to be an eternal student. There will always be another thing to discover for me.
Tell us about your new music/album:
I’m gearing up to release 4 songs which were released in December and a couple more in January. The first set of 4 songs are all little stories and concepts that I decided to write songs about. “Red is the River” was the earliest one I wrote, which was inspired by old folk stories I read about a village going into battle to defend their land. “Never Back Down” was the second one to materialize and I think I might’ve written it after watching the movie “300” and tried to replicate what that would sound like if a similar story happened in modern times. “Fallen” is something I remember writing quite well, as I had just watched the “Loki” show for the second time and tried to give that character a song as he is so ravenously chasing his goal to rule, but keeps falling short. “The Animal” is the most recent one, and it is a story about a group creating human/robot hybrids to gain a military advantage.
I’m a very visual writer so imagery and videos can spark a lot of my ideas. I take a lot of cues from movies and video games and sometimes comics and books. The songs coming in January are quite special to me, as I started a series that replicates video-game music on social media that gained me a bit of a following, and I’m putting the release of the 2 songs in the hands of them, I will know in the next couple of weeks, but all the songs are done. It is refreshing for me to have my vision and ideas to go through this journey and end up with something that I feel is complete and is one of the best representations of my work.
What has been one of the biggest highlights/achievements of your career?
I have a few things that I’m grateful for. Popcorn Kid, a project that I co-produced, wrote, mixed and mastered was signed to Aztec Records and we put out a record called “Memory Tapes” — through this, apart from being a part of their stellar network of artists around the work, we collaborate with frequently. I was affiliated with the Recording Academy for more than 3 years, being part of their crew for the 2019/2021 Grammy Week events. I’m happy to say that I will most likely be reprising my position this year as well. I am also glad to have been briefly affiliated with stalwart producers like Hazebanga, Thomas Warren and Rick Nowels. Being around them watching and being a part of their work were some of my biggest learning curves.
My career as a composer, sound designer and audio engineer for film/tv/games also has picked up steam and I currently hold a position in Streamland Media, the biggest post-production company in the world.
If you had a chance to work alongside anybody who would that be?
I have a massive list of people I wish I would work with some day, but as a musician and composer my top 10 would be Mike Shinoda, Myles Kennedy, Allen Stone, Brandi Carlile, Go Ichinose, Michael Giacchino, Vulfpeck, The Russo Brothers, James Gunn and Natalie Holt.
What other projects do you have coming up?
Apart from solo stuff, I’m playing a small part in some of the shows/movies that Streamland Media is working on. There is also new Popcorn Kid music on the way. I also have a run of gigs coming up through March as a guitarist, singer and keyboardist confirmed so that will keep my playing chops up. I’m looking at a bunch more shows next year but am eagerly awaiting exact dates. I’m always staying busy and looking forward to the opportunities that present themselves to me!
What is your best piece of advice for aspiring artists?
Nothing will be as hard as taking the first step. Whatever that may be. We may never know if we’re ready or what we make is good enough. But the truth is that if you stay true to who you are, who you’re evolving into, and what you’re making of yourself there is definitely a path to getting a version of what you want out of being an artist, musician and life in general. I believe if all of us can stick to the course and dare to go after what we want, we will be pleasantly surprised at the results. Reminds me of a line from one of my favorite movies “It’s just a leap of faith, Miles”.
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