Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Name: SNR (Swapneel Ukhalkar)
Specialty/Style: Progressive Trance, Big Room House
Tools of Choice: Ableton Live, Pro Tools, Akai APC40, Akai Launchpad
Years producing music/sound design pre-Pyramind Training: About 1 year
1. Tell us about SNR? How did you end up in music production? Has your background always been in music?
I’ve been involved with music since around the age of 15, when I started playing the trumpet in my school’s symphonic, jazz and marching bands. My instructor immediately realized that I had a natural musical bent when he saw me picking up musical concepts without fully understanding the technical theory behind them. It seemed to come from within, and to this day much of my inspiration in the studio comes from what inherently “feels right” to me rather than what traditional music theory dictates.
In college I studied computer software, and have been involved in projects from file-sharing networks like bit-torrent to video conferencing at Cisco Systems. My real passion has always been in music and I started getting interested in modern electronic music around the age of 21. I began listening to radioshows like Armin van Buuren’s “A State Of Trance” and Above & Beyond’s “Trance Around The World”. I felt a unique connection to the music, and the more I listened the more I began to deconstruct it’s individual elements in my mind.
I didn’t realize it but I had been subconsciously teaching myself the basics of electronic music production and arrangement. I began spending many evenings in my friend’s garage learning how to DJ, and soon thereafter made the natural progression to production.
My artist name SNR is derived from both my name (SwapNeel ukhalkaR) and my engineering background. The “signal-to-noise” ratio is also referred to as “SNR”, and it essentially determines the sonic fidelity of a sound. On my road to creating a unique SNR sound I feel like my background in software has helped me approach production from a vastly different angle than the normal producer. My main focus right now is to produce what people are calling Trance 2.0 (the next generation of trance), with influences from both big room house and dubstep.
2. Electronic music has definitely landed in the US. What are your thoughts on this new revolution?
It’s a great time to be in the US and involved in EDM. Just up until recently we used to be a fairly underserved market for EDM events, but I think 2012-2014 will see the biggest growth for dance music throughout the US. Live Nation’s recent acquisition of Cream Holdings is a testament to this. California seems to be a special place with hyperactive promoters bringing up new festivals almost every month or two. But traveling shows like Identity Festival will be more essential to break into smaller markets and help spread the love. I think for all new US-based electronic artists like myself this is the perfect time to build your fan base and ride the wave.
3. Are you working on any new projects that we should know about?
I recently launched a new record label called Adrenalin Room. My aim is to foster a lot of the upcoming EDM talent we have here in San Francisco and create a strong artist family which can feed and grow off of one another. So far our label roster includes artists coming from huge EDM imprints like Anjunabeats, Coldharbour, Black Hole and Tone Diary to name a few. We have recently started to throw label nights at local venues as well.
I have also been working on a number of collaborations. Most notably, I have a new vocal piece with legendary trance vocalist Jan Johnston set for release on Arrival Recordings (a sublabel of progressive house powerhouse Silk Royal). Another piece called “+You”, which I finished as a project for one of my classes at Pyramind, just released on another big progressive house label called Macarize. And yet another track called “Kill Me With Style”, this time with fellow Pyraminder Jay Wiltzen on vocals, is set for release on Digital Motion Records with a monster remix pack.
4. How did you find Pyramind Training? Can you share your experiences with us during your time here?
I first heard of Pyramind when I attended a production seminar held by Jaytech, who I had been following for a while. This was right around the time when I had started tinkering around with production, and it was a perfect opportunity for me to dig into his mind and learn his approach to making music. I remember leaving that seminar with my mind racing and it left a lasting impression. A year later I made the decision to turn my life towards music and attend Pyramind.
My experience at Pyramind was amazing to say the least. It’s a great incubator for growing talent and I definitely felt at home. The curriculum is very well rounded but leaves you room to dig into the specific areas that you are really interested in. The instructors are all really one-of-a-kind and add to the unique atmosphere at Pyramind. I met a lot of great people and left confident in my abilities as a music producer.
5. Any advice you would like to share with future students?
FINISH YOUR TRACKS and don’t be afraid to experiment. Most of the magic happens outside of your comfort zone. What’s the worst that could happen? You’ll have another track under your belt at the very least!