“Take positives out of a situation and use the negatives as a learning experience.”
Gladwyn James Graham, known professionally as Gladwyn Graham, is a producer, engineer, DJ and multi-instrumentalist. Graham has been deep in the world of music from a young age. He has engineered and produced for various artists around the world, and self-produced an E.P. and two singles. He has played live shows and on sessions as well, and loves DJing with Future Bass and Progressive House as his forté.
Growing up what music did you and your family listen to?
So, my dad was a songwriter in the Christian community and he wrote songs in my native language (which is Malayalam) and we used to listen to Malayalam Christian songs as a family. My brothers, whenever we had to drive together somewhere, would listen to all kinds of music. We had this one CD filled with 100 of the greatest rock songs ever and I loved listening to that as well.
You were inspired to become a musician at the age of 6 when you listened to your brother’s drum tutor. Do you remember the first song you learned to play on the drums?
I wasn’t inspired to become a musician at that point, actually. My dad used to take me to the studio all the time whenever a song he wrote was being recorded and I loved talking to the composers and arrangers — that inspired me to become a musician. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe it was around the age of 5 that I wanted to get a guitar for myself and my parents bought me a classical guitar and a family friend gave us an electric guitar. I lost interest in learning because my tutors weren’t that great and I couldn’t grasp anything at that point. It was around the age of 6 that my brother started learning the drums and my brain automatically just started catching what was being played. I played a beat in front of his tutor and he loved it and agreed to teach me for free. I don’t remember what was the first song that I learned to be honest…it was so long ago haha.
For new fans, can you explain what EDM and the Future Bass Sub genre are?
Oh man, it is incredibly hard for me to define genres. It’s a situation where I don’t know how to explain it, but I know it when I hear it — but I’ll try my best to explain it. EDM, also known as Electronic Dance Music, is music that is primarily created using electronic elements like synthesizers, drum machines, etc. for the primary purpose of being danced to. Future Bass is a subgenre of EDM and is an umbrella term for lots of styles of music. Some defining elements of Future Bass include huge synth stacks with chords that go into 7ths and 11ths — you really need to know music theory to help with that — melodies that really get an emotion out of the listener, basslines that hit you and well tuned drums. Modulation is also another interesting part in future bass. It creates a wobbly effect which is interesting to listen to. This isn’t the best explanation for the genre, but I hope it helps!
Sitting at your piano or picking your guitar. You start with a melody or chord progression and go from there in creating your music. Have any of your songs started with something someone said?
Yes, my debut single, which was called Leave, was actually written when I told a person who used to be in life (but was not the best person) to leave and never come back anymore.
How did you learn how to mix and master audio tracks?
I don’t master my own tracks. I used to master my covers but I have my original songs mastered by somebody else because having a second ear on your song really helps. I don’t recommend having a song mastered by the same person who mixes your songs, nor by a mixing engineer, unless your budget is low and hiring a mastering engineer does not fall under it due to the fact that mastering engineers have tons of experience just mastering and their ears are tuned differently. Talking with Pete Lyman and Piper Payne, two amazing mastering engineers, really helped me understand that. I learned how to mix by practicing and writing and producing my own originals gave me material to start practicing with. I watched a lot of tutorials on YouTube and read a lot of books to learn and understand the art and science of mixing. It also helped that I went to the Blackbird Academy in Nashville, where my instructors and mentors helped me out. The assistant engineers at Blackbird Studios helped me out as well during my lab time. I learned how to do basic masters off of YouTube as well.
What instruments do you want to learn to play?
The violin and the cello — I’ve learned how to write out basic compositions for orchestral music, but I really want to learn how to play the violin and the cello.
Artists who inspire you include ILLENIUM and Martin Garrix. Favorite songs of each artist?
Choosing a favorite song from Illenium and Martin Garrix is incredibly hard, but if I had to, it would be “High On Life” by Martin Garrix and “Lonely” by Illenium. You have to listen to the song “Lonely” along with it’s prelude. It’s an amazing feeling.
You’ve posted cover songs on YouTube. Which has been your favorite to date?
I’ve got a few favorites. One of them would be “Fix You” by Coldplay, which I worked on with Aarti Venkat and Viral Parmar. Viral and I performed a cover of the song at our high school a few years before that but we had a few mishaps during the performance and we promised each other that we would get it right and make a cover of it and I absolutely loved the end result.
Another would be “Ashes” by Celine Dion, which I worked on with Ananya Murali and my amazingly talented friends, Sri Charan and Bryan Sabu, helped film it.
The last would be “Dusk Till Dawn” by Zayn Ft. Sia. That’s a favorite because I worked on it with my childhood best friend, Phebe.
A year after you released your first cover on YouTube you released your debut E.P. “Yellow”. What does the color yellow represent to you?
The color yellow for me is associated with happiness and frustration, which are funnily feelings that heavily contradict each other. My house in high school had the color yellow as it’s team color and that color brought me happiness when we used to band together and win competitions — but it also brought a lot of frustration because winning was actually pretty rare for us haha. But when we did win, it felt amazing.
Playing your songs in Dubai to playing in Nashville. How does your music represent a universal sound?
My melodies for both Future Bass and Progressive House Music have a lot of Indian and Arab influence. The Progressive House music is a genre that is loved in Europe and Future Bass is a genre that is loved more in the U.S.A.
Speaking of represent, you’ve changed your logo. What inspired the new look?
I changed my artist name to Gladwyn Graham and I felt that the name change needed a new logo. I commissioned an awesome friend of mine who I met in high school to help me out with it and she did an amazing job. Her name is Vaibhavi Rao and you should definitely check her out!
You said “Hold Me” was a completely different direction from your debut E.P. What influenced the new direction?
I started out listening to rock music and playing drums in the rock genre and I had always wanted to make a song in that genre. When Amrita brought me the song “Hold Me”, I knew that this is the perfect song for it.
Shortly before you moved to Nashville, “Say It Enough” came out. The song is about a person who has a difficult time showing gratitude to the people he cares about. You said, “… as life teaches us, you can never do anything alone.” The lyrics, in part, are a thank you to Viral and Ananya who greatly influenced your career choice. How did you meet and come to work with the two?
I released the song after I moved to Nashville, but I finished the song before moving to Nashville. I met Viral and Ananya in high school. I recognized Viral’s insane talent during a performance for our school. I became friends with him and we started working on live performances together and then on original music. I met Ananya for the first time, even though we went to the same high school, during a competition where I was participating in the battle of the bands and she was participating in the classical music part of it. We then had an intra-school battle of the bands and my childhood best friend, Phebe, captained a band. She drafted me and Ananya onto the same team and we became friends. I then showed her a draft of Leave and she was so excited and asked me if she could work on it with me and that’s how it all started. Another awesome person who helped out with the release of the song was Rhea Bhatnagar, who designed the cover art. They’re all great people and I value my friendship and my professional working relationship with them a lot.
At the end of 2019, you reflected on the year’s accomplishments and what you looked forward to this year. Obviously plans are on hold for everyone as we face a world fighting a pandemic. How can your music, which focuses on mental wellbeing and the knowledge that we are in this together, help people face a time of such uncertainty?
My song delves deep into topics that other people are generally afraid to talk about. The whole idea behind the songs I write is that nobody is alone in this world. There’s always someone who shares the same feelings as you do. Being in isolation can lead to loneliness and depression, but I want people to know that we’re all in this together and there will be someone who is always up to talk with you. Please do stay home during this pandemic for your own safety.
Your new release, “Peachy Skies” — What message do you want fans to take away when they listen?
Peachy Skies (feat. Em Sky) by Gladwyn Graham
Stream and Pre-save Peachy Skies (feat. Em Sky) - Distributed by DistroKid
Take positives out of a situation and use the negatives as a learning experience. When we wrote this song, Emily and I both had some bad experiences with friends from our teenage years, but we also reminisced about the good times we had together. We’ll always keep those till the end of time.
Will you be working on any other kinds of music, like ballads?
Yes, I’m currently working on an E.P. that will hopefully come out in September. It’s an Acoustic E.P. with orchestral elements infused in it. I’m super excited about it!
You love rollercoasters. Have they been inspiration for any songs?
My E.P. Yellow is basically a rollercoaster of emotions haha!
What will fans find on your recently launched website?
Everything that I do. Whether it’s my music, my videos, my engineer and producer credits, what I do as a DJ, my live Q&A sessions with songwriters, producers and engineers who work in this industry and about my studio consultation projects.