Michigan’s own Aash Mehta is a budding artist with much promise

Monday, May 2, 2016 - 10:36pm

There’s the GarageBand geek from high school, or the kid who has been locked in his dorm room for a couple of days now, or your old next-door neighbor who always had the speakers bumping a little too loud: what’s their least common denominator? They’re characters of an allegory of our millennial generation who are most likely spitting out the following phrase on a regular basis: “Hey, check out my SoundCloud.”

You can’t blame these artists. You can’t blame them for their need to self-market, their desire to get the word out about their ongoing projects or their drive to beat out all the others in the fight for relevance and recognition. The music industry is saturated with original artists right now, recording and producing tracks in the comfort of their own computers and sending them into the Internet’s universe. So with much of the same thing and so many options to choose from, it’s easy to doubt, and it’s even easier to become immediately overwhelmed.

Aash Mehta, a graduating senior at the University of Michigan, had to make the best of poor industry conditions. It began in high school, following the voice changes of puberty, when Mehta decided that the sappy acoustic guitar (and such) weren’t completely for him. He decided, instead, to take on something that had turned him on for so long: electronic music.

Mehta spent high school in India, where an excess of actual musical variety exists. Holding residence in a cultural epicenter like India gave him an early understanding of world music: K-pop, German electronic and pop and a host of others that many must search much harder and longer for. So with a little more cultural depth and a lot to pull from, Mehta downloaded “anything free from the Internet” and took a stab at electronic music.

“When I began I put a lot of mixes up on my SoundCloud. I would just plug into my computer, DJ live and then put up those mixes. A lot of people nowadays don’t always do that, but I’ve always preferred to do it live. I spent hours out of the day on YouTube, trying to learn new techniques and such, but the problem is, you can have a mind for how you want it to sound like, but for the longest time you won’t have the ability to put it on paper or on a computer. I had to work at it and get better in order to create what I actually wanted or thought that I wanted.”

So in January of 2015, after having learned a lot and practiced more, Mehta purged his SoundCloud of all its previous content. He erased his past mixes and projects for the Internet to never know. With an appreciation for genre-bending, Mehta started in on something different. He started in on something a little more fun, a little more different and a little closer to the artist he wanted to be.

“Where some kids in my class are saying: 'Oh, I made this app!' I’m sitting there saying, ‘Oh, hey I made this sick beat!’ I’m not doing Computer Science, my major, after college. I’ll probably move to Los Angeles, get a part-time job and pursue my music career on a basically full-time basis. I do think of it analytically, like I do think that there is some mathematical wave to it all, and you kind of need that with beat matching" Mehta said.

“My remix to White Lies by Odesza was something that got me a lot of recognition, and I think that that was the first track where I thought: 'I’m going to do my own thing with this song, even if people don’t like it," and then I sent it out to a couple of blogs— a whole long list of them — and that got a ton of plays and listens,” Mehta said. 

Mehta has been able to tap into the electronic music scene of Detroit as well. The internationally-renowned electronic artist Elephante recognized Mehta not long ago in a connecting moment not uncommon for electronic musicians.

“I opened for Elephante’s show in Detroit, and he played his unreleased single during his set. After he gave permission I remixed it, sent it to him and got his approval,” explained Mehta. “And now I’ll be putting it out at the end of May. It’s cool that people are getting to know what my sound is like and then getting their approval on it at the same time. It’s an awesome process, and I’ll be having a lot of content coming out as it all happens.”

There is something precious to Mehta’s beats, something genuine and organic that would, from an objective perspective, appear out of place among the masses. Writing his own lyrics, matching manufactured tones and sounds to the intangibles — it’s a medicinal, provoking process. It’s collecting what you know, and have known, and growing upon what you then want to create on your own.

“Most people think that a lot of my sounds are instrumentations or beats that I have made, but a lot of them are vocal drops that I have messed with on my computer to make them sound so weirdly different,” said Mehta.

Mehta is working towards something in Los Angeles, where the recording artists and producers range in variety, style and power. With a job to pay the bills on the side, the University graduate is taking his talents to the West Coast in search of something a little bigger, a little more. Mehta is standing among the army of millennial musicians, those that must fight amongst the battlefields of the unending Internet for relevance and recognition. But he’s got it: with the connections and almost one million hits on SoundCloud, Mehta is onto something. He’s using a popular platform to work for himself, as most innovators must and do.