For most of us, the introductory music from Doordarshan’s broadcasts in the ‘80s represents an exercise in Soviet-era rigidness by a State still afraid of dreaming big. For Brij Dalvi, the Mumbai-based producer who operates under the Three Oscillators and zzz monikers, it offered an opportunity to flex his musical dexterity. Doordarshanti, one of the first releases under his zzz moniker is a hazy, off-kilter production that would serve as the perfect home for an MF DOOM verse – highlighting Dalvi’s ability to manufacture compositions across diverse musical styles and touchstones of Indian pop-culture and earmarking him as one of the most exciting artists in the country in recent times.
Born and raised in Borivali, Dalvi is the product of a generation that was brought up listening to Marathi and Bollywood music on FM Radio but quickly adapted to the digital age and developed its pathway for music discovery. “I never really had a music collection I inherited but when I was a kid, there’d be Marathi songs blaring on the radio every morning,” he says. “The FM radio in our car was also a great source – the entire 00’s wave of Bollywood got stuck in my head. My parents had their own music choices but I stuck to whatever I’d find on the internet, iTunes and Spotify, and occasionally I’d drag mom to Planet M and buy a couple of CDs.”
Dalvi’s interest in music was ignited via the discovery of music production software such as Fruity Loops and cemented by the discovery of two artists who had a profound impact on his life. “Phonat is this producer from the UK whose music I stumbled upon when I was in 12th grade,” he says. “An EP he released named Identity Theft changed the way I looked at music forever because he had this weird blend of glitch and post-dubstep while still bringing in the feels. He remains one of my biggest influences in the kind of music I make. The other one is this Norwegian producer called Savant is this producer from Norway who has releases spanning multiple genres and styles. These two have informed my work as an artist.”
Having been raised by parents who offered no limitations on Dalvi’s curiosity or lifestyle choices, such an upbringing has translated into his artistic explorations as well. Through zzz, he has delivered forward-thinking, club-friendly edits of classics such as Chandamama, yeu kashi Priya?, cocacola that act as a futuristic aural document of Indian pop-culture history. Reminiscent of the elusive Scruffnuk Dust, an anonymous producer who has delivered one of the most fascinating catalogues in Bandcamp history by sampling his father’s collection of old Bollywood and middle-eastern records, zzz was Dalvi’s attempt at poking fun at the emerging trend of producers flipping classic records by adding a formulaic beat to it. However, in doing so he has come across as one of the best sample technicians in the region today – something he didn’t expect. “I don’t have any cues for zzz but if the words “retro” and “future” were put together, that’s what zzz sounds like,” he says. “The samples themselves inspire me but I’ve started distancing myself from ripping songs and “adding beats to it” in favour of cementing the style of music I want to make.”
Three Oscillators, which was started in 2007 in collaboration with Shreyas Desai and Avit Rane, offers a more structured look at Dalvi’s artistic output. After the departure of Desai and Rane, Three Oscillators has evolved into a solo project that outlines Dalvi’s knack for creating glitch-infused, expansive soundscapes. “Three Oscillators has always been a special project to me,” he says. “That’s my main outlet for the music I really want to make and that’ll remain my formal music project. I think it has a very international sound and that’s the audience I’m targeting right now.”
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dalvi has also emerged as a driving force in helping young musicians across the country stay connected via his weekly Friday Fire Twitch streams. Musicians from across the country send in their unreleased demos / work-in-progress tracks and new releases and get to learn from each other and help keep a sense of community intact. “I always want to push out new and exciting music,” he says. “Rana (Ghose) from REProduce Artists and I would have endless conversations filled with SoundCloud links from obscure accounts of people scattered around the country. Jwala (a collective that I’m a part of) started out with the same goal – pushing Indian independent music and giving it a platform to shine. The first few months of lockdown were pretty bad because offline meets of all kinds just ceased overnight. A few people recovered and started having parties on Zoom and Shotgun to keep the community spirit alive. I thought I’d do the same for the producers here. It hasn’t been easy figuring it all out; there was a lot that I had to learn about streaming on Twitch, network dropouts, and actually engaging with the people that are watching you talk about their tunes. As much as I hate the camera, desperate times call for desperate measures and having a face on a live stream looks much more convincing than just a screen. It sucks that I can’t meet all these producers and the screen definitely took some time getting used to, but it seems to be working for now.”
By giving a platform to young producers in the country such as pelle, CMND Z, Dissector, Budna, and many, many others, Dalvi has established himself as an important voice within the arts community – one that’s thinking about the bigger picture and helping people beyond himself. With plans underway to open the Friday Fire Twitch streams to an international audience, as well as a slew of collaborations scheduled to be released under the Three Oscillators moniker, Dalvi is daring to dream big.
Listen to the music here.
Text by Uday Kapur.
Curated by Rahul Singh Manral.