Student Spotlight: Electronic Producer Neebu on Empathizing With Oneself – Soundfly

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Student Spotlight: Electronic Producer Neebu on Empathizing With Oneself

This interview was conducted with the electronic music producer Neebu, a Soundfly community member who originally joined for our Making Music in Logic Pro X course, and has now made a distinct name for himself on Soundcloud.

The California-based electronic artist and producer Neebu brings mystery and magnetism to his experimental style of “retro,” video game adjacent sound — a sound that is as cinematic as it is whimsical, and that’s no accident.

Originally trained as an analytical scientist, the producer’s stage name, “Neebu” actually comes from his childhood nickname — a sign that tells me he uses music as a playful connection back to his younger years, and in a calculated way to connect on a deeper emotional level with himself in the present.

Below, Neebu refers to his beat as his “thesis,” or the guiding principle that drives all of his other decision making from there on out. And from there, it’s all about allowing the track to speak to the emotion that brought it forth in first place.

Take a listen to the Organized Chaos EP here:

In the below conversation, we chat about the ideal setting for Neebu’s music, his ongoing learning journey, and how he deals with the angst of having to let go to parts of a piece that don’t serve its purpose.

Q: In 2021, you released both your debut EP (Organized Chaos) and a new single only just a few weeks ago (“Alucard”). Congrats! What was it about this year that made you so productive? 

A: Thanks Jeremy! Yeah it’s definitely been a wild year for me. I think it was a combination of many factors. I would say that staying indoors made me want to really focus on learning something new. I thought it would be a great time to put my creative energy into making more music. There is just a visceral afterglow of joy I get after finishing a piece that motivates me to work on the next one. I do see the beauty and grace of the creative decision making process at each step of the song; and I do feel that I end up learning more about myself through each song that I make.

Speaking of this year, how has the pandemic affected your music making endeavors?

Well I can say that my social interactions did decrease during this time, which motivated me to seek out alternative ways to connect with people. This coincided with my growing interest in learning how to make music. I saw sharing music that I made with others as an expression of walking in the direction of genuine connection. I noticed that I put a lot of emotional energy into making each track, so there is an element of vulnerability expressed in each piece.

This year has taught me to be more aware of my emotional state to guide my preferences in producing, which had positive impacts in other areas of my life as well. My viewpoint of creating music has shifted to thinking about it as an avenue in which I empathize with — and practice acceptance of — myself.

“There is just a visceral afterglow of joy I get after finishing a piece that motivates me to work on the next one… and I do feel that I end up learning more about myself through each song that I make.”

Organized Chaos is a collection of electronic dance tracks that have a distinct retro vibe — certainly a beat driving the music forward — but I don’t get a sense these songs are made for the dance floor per se. How would you describe your music and what is the ideal setting for engaging with the music to you?

Yeah I would say that I did want to incorporate an old school video game type of vibe for a few of the tracks. I think of my music as an intentionally constructed set of ideas glued together by decisions that I find compelling. There is no specific theme that all the songs fall under. I would say the ideal setting for myself is either in the car, at my desk, or while I’m on a walk.

Are there any themes or concepts you’re exploring with these songs in particular?

The concepts that I was exploring were centered around being playful with sound combinations. Some examples include subtle tempo changes, as well as silent breaks or pauses. I also explore how well a particular beat or melody can combine with other sounds.

A result of adopting this framework allows me to be intentional and flexible with my creative decisions. Each track of the EP does have its own theme and style independent of each other. The stories that these songs tell me are more emotional in nature. Each composition represents what sort of emotional states I wanted to explore through music.

What are your favorite moments of this collection and why do they stand out for you?

I enjoyed the moments of discovering a new sound that integrates well into the current structure of the song. Those moments represented just the most optimistic forward looking parts of my experience. They were sporadic in nature and just by chance that I had discovered them. Some of the other joyful moments were using my tracks to experiment with a new technique that I had learned about.

Given so much chance, what is your writing and producing process like exactly? What elements do you start with and how do you build your tracks?

So for myself, it’s hard for me to create all pieces of the song in parallel and then arrange the pieces together into something coherent. Since I consume music sequentially, that’s also how I end up making songs. I start by finding a beat that I could listen to for a long time and won’t get tired. I also check how well that beat integrates with other sounds. I find that that sets the whole mood and tone of the song, at least initially.

Trust and honesty with myself about my liking or thoughts of the piece is paramount for my creative process, as well as my thought process in general (outside of music). It’s really difficult for me to understand what others like or dislike, but I know when I find certain sound combinations compelling. There is a lot of openness and flexibility that I bring to my writing process; I start with a beat or collection of beats as my thesis of the song, and I just see where that takes me.

“There is a lot of openness and flexibility that I bring to my writing process; I start with a beat or collection of beats as my thesis of the song, and I just see where that takes me.”

You’ve been a member of the community here for quite some time, what drew you to Soundfly initially?

Soundfly has been — and still continues to be — such a great community of fellow musicians. So originally I was hanging out with some other musician friends and at that time I didn’t know how to use the music software or DAW that I was using to its full capabilities. One of my colleagues suggested taking an introductory class on Soundfly. The only course that I have taken was the Intro to Making Music in Logic Pro X. I really appreciated how it catered to musicians at any level.

Actually the song, “Alucard,” was constructed from trying to finish the first set of exercises for that class.

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How has the community here on Slack affected your personal process and musical journey?

The Slack community has been incredibly supportive. I think the folks here really help with increasing my knowledge of all the tools that are available for us musicians to use. It’s great to have a community of people you can go to ask any music related question with on point answers. I find that overall, Soundfly has helped me understand how the music industry works, as well as some of the technical aspects behind sound engineering and music theory.

“I internalize songs more as a form of storytelling compared to just arrangements of beats that sound nice.”

Can you explain how you grew between releasing the EP and this latest single “Alucard?”

Oh I think there is a paradigm shift in how I thought about music between the time of the two releases. I internalize songs more as a form of storytelling compared to just arrangements of beats that sound nice. There is a lot more understanding and awareness of my emotional state as I listen to music. I’m also more grounded in dealing with the angst, frustration, and fear of having to throw out a good chunk of the piece. There is a greater appreciation of how much I use arbitrary constraints to navigate this process.

What are you working on nowadays?

I have a few more releases coming up in the future that I’m super excited about. I’m fortunate to be collaborating with a few other artists whose work I enjoy. I’m working on the next set of tracks and experimenting around with themes outside of my wheelhouse.

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Jeremy Young

Jeremy is a Montreal-based musician, sound artist and improviser who loves giving advice to emerging artists on how to make their tours more effective. He writes, records and performs electroacoustic "concrète" music for tape, oscillators and amplified objects and surfaces, as well as solo guitar. He has performed and released material throughout Europe and the UK, Asia, the US and Canada, mostly with his trio Sontag Shogun.