Lost Stories get candid on being the first Indian artistes on YouTube’s Foundry, their latest electronic folk track and more
In 2007, Prayag Mehta and Rishab Joshi met on an online forum and exchanged music and also shared their vision of how to take Indian music to the world. Today, the duo produce dance music under the alias Lost Stories, and have garnered support from international names in the EDM world, such as Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, BT, and Markus Schulz, and have remixed tracks such as Alan Walker’s famous single, Faded. Their singles – Bombay Dreams and Vaseegara - have also gained the number one spot on iTunes.
The duo recently made history by becoming the first Indian artistes to be selected for YouTube’s global artist development program, Foundry, and also released a track Mai Ni Meriye with the program. In a chat with Indulge, the duo took us through their creative journey while also sharing their take on the dance music industry and what being picked by YouTube’s Foundry mean for their career. Excerpts from the conversation.
Q: The music video of Bombay Dreams also spreads a positive message about being yourself and loving dance and music. Is that what you stand for as a brand?
Prayag Mehta: Bombay Dreams is indeed a special track for us. It is my personal favourite video as it emotes a part of my personal journey. I come from a very traditional Gujarati business family where following music as a career was unheard of. I stuck by my dream and worked toward my passion and stuck to my true self. My Baa (paternal grandmother) believed in me although she didn't understand much about my career choice then, she was my biggest supporter! I dedicate the video to my Baa, who I know will be proud of it and Lost Stories.
Rishab Joshi: The music video of our song, Faking It was about spreading awareness about mental health issues in the dance music industry and how artists use their vices to cope up with the pressures of the industry. We want to make the dance music circuit safe space for upcoming artists and make them understand we’re there for them when they feel stuck or need any help.
Q: How do you go about creating a new track? Can you please take us through the journey.
RJ: It can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 6 years. In my head, no track is ever complete. In that case, deadlines help in getting the music released otherwise we might end up working on those tracks forever. Most of our tracks start with a strong vocal idea/melody. We then figure out what genre we want to do. We hate repeating genres so we try to be as unique as possible with all our tracks. We build multiple versions of the track and send it to the team and pick the best version.
Q: Tell us about your recent track, Mai Ni Meriye. How did everything fall into place? What made you pick it in the first place?
RJ: One of my friends made me listen to Mai Ni Meriye back in 2013 and I loved the emotion behind the song. I made up my mind to work on it that day itself, however, the project changed over the years and it took its own time to work out. The melody on the song right now was made for another song but we didn’t end up using it because the sonic landscape had changed and it didn’t suit the vibe of the song.
PM: We have made multiple versions of it but for the longest time, we were in search of a special vocal that could complement the melody perfectly. Jonita and Ashwin absolutely slammed it with their vocals. Since this is our first release with the Foundry program, it makes Mai Ni Meriye, all the more special!
Q: How has the dance music industry evolved in India and South Asia in the last decade or so? Are there any trends that you find particularly interesting?
RJ: Over the last few years, dance music has evolved in a very different way. Like I mentioned earlier, the melody on Mai Ni Meriye was originally for another project; the songs that were coming until a few years back, were heavy future bass drops or trap drops and a delicate flute melody like this one didn’t fit well on those. In 2019-2020, people are more inclined towards minimal drops. It made all the difference in this song for us because the melody is right on top of a minimal drop, guiding the listener.
Q: How does it feel to be the first Indian duo to be selected at YouTube Foundry? Is there a certain amount of pressure on you as you represent India on a global platform?
RJ: We’re honoured to be selected for this prestigious program, it’s surely one of the biggest milestones of our decade long career and to be the first Indians to represent our country here, it just adds to the excitement. But, at the same time, there’s a huge responsibility to consistently deliver content that is better than the previous one.
Q: What does the selection to YouTube Foundry 2020 entail?
RJ: YouTube has helped us take our sound to the world and gain real-time feedback as well. Being able to work directly with their team will help us create better content, engage more with our audience, gain access to training and marketing strategies by Foundry that will enable us to reach our music far and wide. We’ve planned a lot of music for the next six months and the details will unwrap when the time is right, that’s all I can say!
Q: Tell us more about the Lost Stories Academy. What was your vision/thought behind teaching Indians music production? Who is the target audience for your academy?
PM: The journey for Lost Stories has been about trials and errors and it was entirely a self-taught process. Right from reading manuals to making major mistakes and taking months to better our quality, we did it on our own, needless to say, it was an uphill task. When we had reached a certain level of expectations and success, we thought it was important to give back to the fans and the society, without whom we would not be here. I started the academy with just two students, which turned to 20 in a few months. We now have more than 100 enrolled students, and many more have completed their courses and made their musical dreams come true. My vision is to make music education as mainstream as possible to ensure that anyone who aspires to have a career in music, can do so without any stigma or hindrance.
Q: Is Lost Stories Academy also offering online courses during this pandemic?
PM: Starting July, we will be offering comprehensive music production and music business courses at an affordable price range to help our fans and students learn from our academy, according to their schedule and in the comfort of their own home. These courses will be self-paced and will entail the entire course work as our offline academy along with some additional courses such as soft skills development, music marketing, brand building, etc.