I Wanna Be A Producer: Hardesh Singh

If you think all a Producer does is sit around in the studio and boss people around, then you’re wrong. Half of them work alone and the more successful ones are always on the move. Continuing our feature on Producers, heeeere’s Hardesh!

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In 2000, after completing a degree in Telecommunications Engineering, with no formal training in music or production, Hardesh left to San Francisco to study Indian Classical music. In 2001 he decided to go off on a Raleigh International expedition to Belize, and raised funds by holding a concert and performing as The 50cents Jazz Club. They were a prog jazz band and received good reviews.

Returning to Malaysia, he came across a small ad in the papers looking for actors for an upcoming documentary (The Big Durian by Amir Muhammad). Without knowing the first thing about scoring (much less recording), he called to ask if they needed someone to do the soundtrack. When they said ‘yes’, he broke his piggy bank and spent whatever he had on getting a SoundBlaster soundcard, begged a friend to loan him a computer, and spent endless night teaching himself how to record sounds into the computer.

Since then, there’s been no stopping this brave man. Over the years, he’s been involved in numerous projects, more notably PopFolio (including the Popfolio.net social music network, the Poptopus widget and PopTeeVee); music and sound design for Australian choreographer Lina Limosani (A Delicate Situation); and two sound installations at the 2009 International Film Festival in Rotterdam. He’s currently working with visual artists, The Light Surgeons, from the UK on a UK-Malaysia collaboration organised by the British Council. It’s been tentatively named ‘SuperEverything’ and is due to be premiered as a ‘live cinema’ performance in Sept 2011.

When we asked, Hardesh said he does not believe the role of a Producer has changed much at all.

“The role of a good Producer has always stretched beyond just the creative aspects. It started out as a very technical role, but now requires technical and creative knowledge as well as some business sense. So its not quite accurate to say that Producers are getting more involved in all these areas due to rise of independent labels. In fact, the opposite may be true, because with more indie labels and musicians, the tendency is to have to cut corners in order to save cost, so many of the usual steps are compromised.”

However, it’s noteworthy that Hardesh’s role as a Producer was defined by the infrastructure he set up himself – which includes a commercial studio; and a publishing and distribution front. He tells us that the choices he makes are those that make the most business sense.

But is it all about the money?

“Not at all. We fund a lot of young musicians, and many of them don’t generate returns, but it is the opportunity of finding the talent that matters. To do that we have to go through a lot of misses to get the hits. As such, I naturally have a bird’s eye view as a Producer. Many other producers may have limited roles -  only seeing the product out the door, and having little foresight on what will happen to it after that. The majority of acts will be happy to just get an EP done so they can get that out of their system. It’s fairly easy to produce something like that. But I think there is little room to progress as a Producer in such arrangements.”

He stresses that there are ample opportunities to get involved in every aspect of the music business, so it’s up to each Producer to decide how dirty they want their hands to get.

“To me, it has always been about the interest one has, and the thirst to learn as much as one can. But ultimately, there has to be something you add to a particular project in terms of value.”

I  Wanna Be A Producer will return with Reuben aka Blastique tomorrow!