Creating nostalgia with music
With numerous stories behind their music, 'Lost Stories' has become the brand name from India, representing the country in music festivals across the world. 'Lost Stories' is an electronic music duo composed of Rishab Joshi and Prayag Mehta and are famously known for their official remixes for Alan Walker 'Faded' and One Republic 'Wherever I Go.' Since their debut in 2009, 'Lost Stories' has taken the EDM industry to the next level with their remarkable tracks, playing alongside Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, Martin Garrix, Steve Aoki amongst others. The duo released their debut artist album, "Music for the #Generation" on Universal Music India in 2013. The official video for their single from their debut album, 'How you like me now' made it to number 16 on VH1 top 100 videos of 2014.
Ranked among the top DJs of India, the duo has performed at the best music festivals in India like Sunburn, VH1 Supersonic and Enchanted Valley to the most celebrated festivals in the world like Tomorrowland, Summer festival, Ibiza, etc. And this year, they are coming back to perform at Tomorrowland 2017. Read on to know what Rishab had to say about their journey...
How did you both meet? We know online, but how?
My journey with electronic dance music began from a simple Google search, i.e. 'What is the best trance song'. It was a lame thing to do but it got me to a track by 'Above and Beyond'. I started listening to it and gradually fell in love with this kind of music. So, I started replicating that music and making my own tracks, but that's it, I didn't know what to do with those tracks. I used to listen to radio shows and everything by Tiesto and then I heard a track by an Indian producer called Prayag. This got me frustrated; The fact that there is some guy who is getting support from Tiesto when I have better tracks annoyed me.
So, I started researching about this guy. There was a forum called 'Submerge' which was started by Nikhil Chinapa and I knew that Prayag was on this forum. I don't remember how exactly but we got in touch through this forum.
And what's your inspiration?
When it comes to production, we always try to come up with tunes which take you back to a memory. We always try to create music that builds up to a certain moment which reminds you of that particular time of your life. So, every time we are creating music, we sit down and ponder – how was I during this particular period of time and how do I translate that feeling into music. So, inspiration always comes from those moments. Even with DJaying, we keep it really unpredictable and we want people to feel a certain feeling of nostalgia. We bring back a lot of old stuff and re-introduce it in a really cool way for the audience.
But, on a personal level, I like a lot of sad and emotional melodies. I kind of get drawn to dark and melodic stuff. Basically, all the music I am making right now is sort of a replication of all the music I have heard over the years. It is all hard-wired in my brain.
How did your breakthrough happen?
I think we were really lucky when we started off because the first track that we made as 'lost stories' just shot up in the big leagues. Our names were taken in the same breath as Tiesto or Armin Van Buuren because they were playing our tracks. So, I think, our breakthrough had a lot to do with music quality clubbed with good networking.
I remember Prayag and I used to be on MSN messenger all day, talking to people from across the world. Telling them, 'we know not much good music is coming out of India but please listen to our tracks.' We had to be up till 5-6 in the morning because all the other guys were from other countries. So, we had a lot of sleepovers as we were constantly sending people our tracks. We used to say, 'just listen to our tracks once and you'll feel that it's nothing less than the quality of music you get there.'
What were the challenges that you guys faced in the initial phase?
There was a particular time when we just wanted to make some money so we could afford some production equipment. So, we used to make bootlegs for this particular DJ and one day he got to know that we got signed to Black hole records. And he tried to capitalize on that and said, 'you know what, I'll be a part of lost stories now and you guys will make music for me. I'll go travel the world and you both sit in the studio.' And when we refused to abide by his terms, he just told us to move out of his house. So, that was a very challenging time. We had to deliver a lot of music, for instance, Armin Van Buuren wanted to start a show, 'a state of trance' with our track but we couldn't deliver because some guy threw us out of his house.
What is your brand of music? Any particular genre?
I would just like to call it Electronic Dance music (EDM) because it is a big umbrella of sub-genres. Three to four years ago, we had a really bad time when the whole progressive trance music died and we had to pick up a new genre to work on. And as producers, we realized that we are not good at just sticking to one genre. I know it's not good for a particular brand to be all over the place but then, that's what I felt like. I felt that I can't stick to one thing and gladly, our new record label, 'spinning' has accepted that. So, yes, I'd like to call myself an EDM producer.
How do you like to experiment with music?
There is a particular incidence, it is about the Alan Walker remix that we did for the track 'faded.' Originally, we sent the track without the flute and it was like a normal track. Even though it sounded good, it didn't have that thing which would separate it from the rest of the noise. And, 'faded' was a track with already a million remixes out on the internet. Being the official ones, we had a challenge to sound better than all the unofficial remixes out there.
The track was sent to them and approved but while I was listening to the track, I realized that something was missing. I just couldn't put a finger on it. Later that night, I was just listening to 'Coke studio' and I came across this guy who was playing flute. His name is Sajid Ali and I thought, 'it would be so cool if I could have this guy play flute on my 'faded' remix. The flute could actually set it apart from the rest of the noise.' Randomly, I just messaged him on Facebook, not expecting a reply. Luckily, he replied back saying that he would love to do this.
So, I think, these are the little things. Sometimes, you get a feeling that you need to take a leap. Just make a jump and who knows where it might take you. Even with the new music which we are working on right now, we constantly try to compare it to the rest of the music that's coming out. Every guy who has a laptop can make tunes but, as 'lost stories' we always try to be different.
What do you think is the future of EDM?
I think the future belongs to all these 16-17 year old guys who are in their bedrooms, currently making the next big hit of the world. Just look at the history, Martin Garrix, Alan Walker, all these guys are barely over 21 or 22 and they made a hit track in their mom's basement and now they are the leaders of EDM. Future of EDM is in the hands of people who are experimenting to get their own sound out.
Tell us a bit about 'Lost Stories academy'
Our academy is in Mumbai and Delhi where we have some really talented kids. And these kids are making some exceptional music right now. It has given us an opportunity to collaborate with them. There is a 15-year-old guy who reminds me of myself when I was his age, because like me, he doesn't hesitate to take a risk and experiment. And then, there is another guy who is excellent on the deck.
The goal of this school is to make real talent come out. 'Lost stories' was just an experiment. When we started off, no one was doing what we were doing and the industry is not really favourable to new guys like us. We learned all things the hard way, without any backing or financial support. So, we want the kids to somehow avoid all the nonsensical things that we faced. Our main aim is to make them focus on just music. We can handle the rest of the stuff because I think it's a big waste of time to get caught up in a wrong contract.
What can we expect from lost stories in Tomorrowland 2017?
We are still in the process of finishing the whole set. But, definitely, a lot of ethnic and Indian vibes. That's what we did when we played for the first time in Tomorrowland. But we have a new track coming out in a month; it's called 'India' and we are the first guys to sample a Bollywood vocal and put it
on Spinning records.