How Oceantide Moved From Post Rock to Footwork
Last November Ketan Bahirat, who produces a unique strain of footwork music coming out of Bangalore under the name Oceantied, decided to take an artistic gamble. He launched an initiative called #1Beat1Week - a self-explanatory scheme where he set out to create and upload one new beat - accompanied by a video - every seven days. Fellow dance music producers will probably understand the motivation - like many who create electronic music, he realised that only a small fraction of what he was working on ever saw the light of day, despite long hours experimenting and creating. (His recent debut, and sole, release, the Tribes EP, was the culmination of two years’ work.) He predicted that the move would change his working style and his output, and he was not wrong.
He says: “#1Beat1Week is a project I started when I realised how many ideas I may have brewing but never really see the light of the day. It's an idea I had to push myself to start putting out more music [so I would be] trying every week to show people what I was working on and what kind of a mindset I might be in.” As well as being an educational tool for himself (the project has spurred him on to learn more about digital movie making techniques), it stands as a symbol of a restless mind, keen to push his own sound and method forward.
Ketan was born in Hyderabad but had a peripatetic lifestyle due to his dad working in IT and spent several years of his childhood in Hong Kong and America: “Travelling exposed me to new cultures at an earlier age and I was thankful for that.”
His work as an electronic producer flowed organically out of the shifting circumstances of his post rock band, Until We Last. He started learning how to use Digital Audio Workstations in 2010, in order to be able to record his band’s music but then when members started drifting away from him, his impulse was to keep the band going even if it was just him on his own.
That said he doesn’t compartmentalise post rock from footwork and there has been some bleed through in philosophy and process: “There have been times where my background of playing post rock has helped in making better melodies, or progressions. Ambience & space in dance music is a really important factor.”
Oceantide, his outlet for making chillwave referencing footwork and big room beats, is just shy of three years old, with the name coming to him on holiday: “I was in Goa, sitting at the beach. I just love how the ocean can be so calm and chilled and yet go to the exact opposite in a flash. It reminds me of my music in a way, I love making mellow, calm tunes and also hard hitting, heavy dance floor bangers so it kind of stuck.”
The juke influence on his most recent EP Tribes, speaks of a particular obsession: “I've always loved the spirit of Chicago music. I got into listening to it in my late teens. When you hear the music coming out of Chicago it's almost like you can feel the soul of the city seeping through to you in the audio, from the old house records to more recently juke & footwork.”
Ketan’s debut release the Tribes EP took two years to make. Some of the tracks wouldn’t sound out of place on a Planet Mu Bangs And Works footwork comp but the title track is more identifiably Indian sounding. He explains: “That track was inspired by Baale Mane Gopalapura, which is an NGO that supports young girls who are orphaned or displaced because of child labour issues. I watched a troupe perform a local drum and dance form which really inspired me to put the energy into that track.”
Talking about the influence of traditional music on his work Ketan, whose background in Indian classical music which predates his interest in footwork and post rock, says: “Rhythmically it's in our blood. If you walk into a temple or you happen to catch a parade on the streets, the sounds of beating drums and percussion are high tempo, and loud, but more interestingly have amazing rhythms.”
Despite the project only being a couple of years old, his ability to collaborate influences in an inventive manner like this has seen his profile rise relatively high despite only having one EP under his belt, and in December he was a guest on India’s first ever Boiler Room show supporting Actress along with Sandunes and _RHL.