A deep conversation/QnA session with Harshit Misra aka Hashbass (Producer/Bassist) as The Showrunners exclusive pick of the week

I know Harshit as one of the most humble, experienced, and helping musicians from the indie music scene. His playing shows his honesty with music and himself. I've had the opportunity to catch him performing several times and every time he was taking a step forward towards his musical journey. Today we will be talking about his early days of music, inspirations, experiences, and a lot more.

Let’s begin,

1. It’s a pleasure to have you, Please tell us about your early days of music? How did you get inclined towards it and your instrument?

Hello! Glad to be here! Oh man, music was never the part of the plan I wanted to be an architectural engineer or a mechanical engineer at first (which I almost did become, but dropped out!). I was a nerd back in school and I started taking piano hobby classes. It wasn’t until I had finished school that I realized I could actually play the instrument well. When I started college and joined a band, I picked up this instrument called the bass & because of a funny reason. I really did not want to be the keyboard player. Later, it just so happened that I became naturally inclined to the bass.

2. Tell us about your experience and the hustle of being an established part of the Delhi music scene? What’s the difference b/w that time and the current music scene according to you?

The hustle has been REAL full of excitement as well as anxiety, knowing very well I came from a middle-class family. The day I decided to quit my engineering studies back in 2009 is the day I landed my first session gig in the Delhi Music Scene with this band called Cyanide. It was crazy! I remember to be this person who just moved from one gig to another until I seriously decided to pursue music. From Kingfisher Pub Rock Fest, Gir Festival to seeing NH7 Weekender Shillong. Man, it has been quite a trip (& no, I am not that old!).

I just feel that back then access to music was harder from finding tapes, CDs to keep rewinding/replaying them until they stopped working. Getting to break into the scene was crazy and the gigs were so real. The people, the fans, the reason for people to follow live music was real. There was curiosity of what was about to come next. Now, the information to learn something is so easily available, thanks to the ever-growing internet.

Also, there are better venues to play today as compared to earlier when there were very few but strong! Also, due to the rise in experimenting with music, there are so many genres of live music presented now. It’s all growing!

3. When did you decide to go to MI? How was your experience there and why did you choose music studies? What’s the importance of music education in India according to you?

I was studying sound engineering from SAE Chennai and playing in a major band when one of my friends suggested this idea to me. He said why don’t I consider studying music outside of India. At that time, the only music school I knew of, was Berklee. But, it was impossible to afford seeing the high tuition fee and hence I researched about MI. I got in touch with them & MI’s Indian representative reached out to me.

This was followed by my application for a full-ride scholarship competition. I was selected as one of the top 5 finalists by the then Bass chair, Stu Hamm, after which I went ahead & joined the program. The reason why I chose to study music outside of India was that at the time when I was just an upcoming artist, I reached out to all major bass players around if they could teach me. Most of them were either busy doing their own thing or perhaps not interested. This made me go my own way, do my own thing & finally join Musicians Institute and one cannot ignore Los Angeles. I fell in love with that city! It made me who I am today!

Music education in India is still developing. There are some really good teachers and schools in the country. At the same time it’s also subjective. It totally depends upon an individual as to what they want to achieve and that defines their paths. But one thing is for sure. Today, music education is accessible in India more than ever before, basic as well as advanced studies.

4. As a session musician, what are the biggest challenges you get to face? What’s your process when you have to play different styles with various setups?

For a long time, I never realized what and who a session musician was. In fact, in India, it’s still a grey area for many. For the most part of my journey, I have been a session musician, and living in LA taught me, most musicians I knew were session musicians. I learned my ethics of working from there.

As a session musician, I would say the biggest challenges for me have been understanding the possibilities of what I can do for an artist. When an artist is unable to explain what they want to sound like, it becomes a conflict. Apart from that, dealing with business side of things, negotiating, etc. isn’t my forte. Although I religiously follow a calendar and I work hard to keep my routine balanced, after working for a really long time, I now have a management & that’s “Pagal Haina”. They manage all business side of things, so I’m mostly relieved of that stress. Now when I get calls for work, everything is made clear to me even before I step into a session.

When it comes to playing different styles, one thing I’ve always stressed upon is having the charts ready. I mean, it becomes a fundamental aspect now. Thinking like an artist helps here. What would I expect from a session musician? Here are a few points I keep in mind when I am working on a session on any style/setup:

1) Material: Charts, audio tracks, minus 1, etc. Get the material delivered and learn it inside out.

2) Communication: Converse & ask what the artist is looking for in the song

3) Discipline: Make sure you are ready to provide anything that the song requires

4) Attitude & Professionalism: Be a good person with the right attitude. You want to be the last guy in the room that the artist gets even slightly tensed about

5) Deliver: Get work done, get paid & go home.

5. What do you promote through your style of playing? How did music affect your life and what’s your definition of living a life with music?

Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

That is what I aim for.

Since childhood, I used to spend a lot of time alone at home as both my parents were working. Music was the only thing I could listen to, from radio shows like AIR FM, afternoon shows, my mom playing CDs and records of Abba, George Michael & the likes. It changed me, it made me feel more comfortable with music. It had meaning and as cliche as it sounds I, could connect all my emotions with it. You know like how songs have that feeling and it attaches you with a memory, incidents, people, etc.

Living life with music is smooth for me. It does not cause me any pain. It flows much like water and there is music for every feeling at any moment.

6. Are you writing any new music? Please tell us about your writing process? What are your thumb rules of music writing?

YES! I am writing new music of my own majorly beats. Beat tapes and few songs with fresh collaborations are in store.

I do not have a fixed method of writing music. However, one thing that drives me as a writer is the groove. The drums should knock and the bass should drive the song. Also, when I have both of them down with the percussions then I go for the melody. Instant ideas work best for me and that’s why I try not to stop myself from experimenting.

BE LIMITLESS! Explore.

7. Tell us about your past and recent collaborations? Any local artists you would like to recommend?

Gathering all collaborations from past to present in one, they are here: Candice Glover (American Idol Winner), Wayne Brady, Shubha Mudgal, Shilpa Rao, Suman Sridhar, Benny Dayal, Karsh Kale, Sid Sriram, Prabh Deep, Suraj Mani and The Tattva Trip, Dub Sharma, Bollyjazz, Senor Elefante, Prateek Kuhad, Dhruv Visvanath, Hanumankind, DCF Shapes, Sava Boyadzhiev, The Bartender Big Band, Poco Loco, Jordan Johnson, Ted Piltzecker, Mark Alban Lotz, Saby Singh, Kamakshi Khanna, Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, Sarathy Korwar, Abhilasha Sinha, etc.

I would highly recommend listening to these Indian acts: Hanumankind, Lifafa, Karshni Nair, Bowls.

8. What’s your current playlist? Any top 10 albums that had a major influence on you?

My current playlist is my A playlist curated on Spotify called “Hashbass Picks”. It is updated by me every Monday & it is full of expressions, moods, emotions, etc.

Top 10 Albums that have influenced me:

Michael Jackson — Thriller

George Benson — Breezin

Incubus — Morning View

J Dilla — Donut

GTA VICE CITY — Emotion 98.3 Radio Fm

Limp Bizkit — Chocolate Star and The Hot Dog Flavored Water

Toto — Toto IV

Miles Davis — Kind of Blue (Deluxe Edition with Alternative Takes)

Jaco Pastorius — Honestly (Solo Live)

Jay Z — The Black Album

9. If you have a chance to improve or change a few things in the Indian music scene, what would you like to change or improve?

I mostly feel I am nobody to change anything. However, I do believe people need to be more compassionate and must try to understand the environment better. People must not judge but respect and learn as much as they can. While the politics will go on forever. One should know who helped and how one can help another.

I have tried to help a lot of people in the industry without any expectations but I do know that there is a lack of basic gratitude and respect. A facade is cool but be real and honest to people. I gradually learnt to respect people. And that’s how I have my closest friends, people who put in a lot of effort but need to be recognized more.

Hard work is a strong contender against anything & I urge people to keep working hard & one day it’ll all be worth it!

10. (Last question) You’ve been touring around, playing several gigs, producing, writing as well as facing a long term major crisis. You became an inspiration and many of us would love to know that what helped you in balancing the two sides of life?

Thank you for the kind words. My personal life has been a rough one for about last 7 years or so. It had always been on the edge. I moved back to India in 2015. However, due to my mother’s sudden illness which had already last for over a year, I had no work coming in, everything was stagnant.

I had given up until one evening I decided I gotta do it one last time for my mother, who introduced me to the music. With time passing by, it was never easy. Practically lived on no sleep and no time zone but the drive to do music and to take care of my family kept me going. I had no choice.

You gotta keep pushing for the love of music and your loved ones.

Harshit Misra(aka Hashbass), a musician & producer from New Delhi, is inarguably one of the best bassists in India currently. Featured artist with some of the best names in the music business such as Fender, D’addario & Akai, he is a popular name in the Indian independent music industry. He won the 2014 Outstanding Bass Student Award along with 2 prestigious scholarships at Musicians’ Institute, LA that later saw him become a faculty member at the Musicians’ Institute, Los Angeles.

His influences range from Yellowjackets & J Dilla to Gospel & Indian Carnatic music. Harshit is known for his remarkable contribution in hip-hop, pop, funk jazz & Latin jazz. Harshit’s understanding of rhythm & his catchy grooves are evident in his work & is often appreciated by many. An ardent believer of hard work leads to success, Harshit is humble at heart and can be absolutely fun to work with & be serious at the same time.

One of the lesser-known facts about Harshit is, that he associates colors with musical notes making him experience chromesthesia. He started out as a pianist in his early days but fate had further plans for him. With all the education & experience he has today, he is nothing but a musical powerhouse with seamless energy and a never-give-up attitude.

It was my pleasure to do a round of such an informative and insightful QnA session. I hope it helps and inspires every musician in any aspect of music.

You can follow Harshit Misra on social media. Click on the links below.
Fbhttps://www.facebook.com/basshashbass
IG https://www.instagram.com/hashbass

That’s it for today. See you soon with another amazing musician in our next edition of The Showrunners exclusive pick of the week.

Mohan Kumar

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