Qoini talks DIY studio, jazz influences and Nas-inspired homage to Delhi
Midway through his quarantine, Delhi rapper Qoini fashioned a vocal booth from a laundry basket he purchased off of Amazon. “I had to research sound isolation and sound proofing, and recorded Ghissey Jootey using that portable basket!” he tells us. Qoini’s home studio, however, is not exactly an upshot of the DIY boom but was somewhat preemptive. The rapper whose real name is Aditya Guglani (the term Qoini comes from the Hindi phrase ‘Koi Nahi’ that translates to nobody - a representation of misfits and underdogs) lost three relatives to the pandemic and didn’t want to put his 70+ parents at risk by stepping out for work.
“So many projects got shelved, I lost three very close relatives in a very short span of time; we as a family couldn't meet each other, and this took a toll on me. I am not great at communicating feelings, so the frustration grew and grew and one night I just vented on a piece of paper and that is how ‘Ghissey Jootey’ came to fruition,” he says of his new single that documents the chaotic anxieties of this time. In an interview the artiste helps us understand his brand of hip hop:
Tell us about the kind of music you plan to produce this year
I have a couple of more tracks that take you on an emotional journey about growth and positivity, I am planning to release it in an EP. I have a few singles planned that are BoomTrap. My next track is called “Yeh Dilli Hai”, it is a Nas-inspired tribute to my hometown Delhi. I am working on another EP that explores psychedelic sounds.
How would you define your blend of rap?
I started out with hardcore rap, as my introduction to hip hop was through Emimen who’s a great storyteller and a terrific performer. This phase focused on expressive and aggressive sounding vocals, so I always gravitated towards bands like Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit and Rage Against the Machine. The other artiste who inspired such intensity was Metallica’s James Hetfield. I explored more aggressive sounds of Nu-Metal and Rap/Rock. Later I moved to a more trap oriented sound after being influenced by Kendrick Lamar and J Cole. Right now I am working on jazz-based hip hop, kind of influenced by the late Mac Miller
Do you miss performing live and/or touring?
Performing always gives me a rush. That connection which you feel with the audience is priceless. I do miss it but 2020 was a rollercoaster, it kind of pushed me towards innovative ways to stay connected with my peers and fans. So I started my own podcast and continued with my freestyle videos.
How did the pandemic-induced slowdown affect your creative process?
I had so many projects planned for a 2020 release but all they were derailed. However, I never stopped writing and exploring. I work best in isolation, so I could write and record demos and it was great for like a couple of initial months. Then when I had actual songs with me, I couldn't record as I couldn't go to the studio. So it was bittersweet, the pandemic slowed me down but couldn’t stop me. And now with so much unreleased material, 2021 is going to be crazy.
The homegrown rappers you're listening to right now
There are so many rappers whose work I admire, like Prabhdeep and his latest album ‘TABIA’. It hits hard! Then there’s ‘Sab Chahiye’ by Rawal that sounds so fresh and has that raw energy to it. Delhi is on its way to become the home ground of hip hop in India. There are just so many upcoming rappers who are promising. I hope it stays that way, it is good and progressive for hip hop...