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Creating an Electronic Hit with "Ravish"

Producer/Artist Sonia Schmidt

The enigmatic Otm Shank received praise and attention for his single “Ravish” which topped Beatport’s minimal top 100 and received extensive radio play on BBC Radio 6 Music in the UK. One of the secret ingredients behind the hit was singer/songwriter/music producer Sonia Schmidt. While Schmidt’s own music is characterized by her angelic voice and organic minimalist instrumentation, she worked with Otm to craft “Ravish” in its self-proclaimed Bollywood Tech Funk style. As co-writer and co-producer of this electronic hit song, Sonia has proven that her talents are malleable to genre and format. As a part of the artist collective known by the moniker Namkyo, these two spent countless hours crafting both the music and the stage persona of Otm Shank into a delightfully mysterious and captivating journey for the listener. Recorded at Bedrock LA near Echo Park, “Ravish” gave these two Europeans talents a springboard to global notoriety.

In the same way that artists like Daftpunk and Danger Mouse preferred to create a persona to accentuate the music, Otm Shank (a reference/inside joke which uber fans of the Simpsons understand) decided to forego recognizability in real life to place emphasis on the music and escapism. “Ravish” is not only inclusive in its hypnotic beat but with components such as electronic and middle-eastern that cross cultural delineations. While perhaps not obvious, it makes sense that Otm and Schmidt are from two different parts of Europe and the focus of this music is to bridge the gaps between cultures and make music an instrument for dialogue. The differences are key to making the final product exceptional as Schmidt relates regarding the process, “At times, Otm would just be too close to the track to have perspective. I would sit down and help him sort out the parts and clear out the areas that needed to go. I am not afraid of making mistakes when making music. I have really great instincts and rarely look back. Sometimes I tend to move forward a little too fast whereas Otm is the opposite and would move forward just to go back to the first version of the track. Overall, my role was to push him forward and reassure him about the fact that there are no mistakes in making music. Everything is part of the process.”

The process of creating “Ravish” was far from traditional or in line with the status quo of today’s recording industry. Sonia has a preference for creating samples rather than using those prefabricated. This influence found its way onto the recording when Otm heard Schmidt unzipping her guitar case. This led to the zipping sound being recorded and morphed into a key part of “Ravish.” What’s Sonia’s high tech tool for sample ideas? She reveals, “When it comes down to creating samples, I personally love using everyday sounds. When something grabs my attention, I’ll record it on my phone and use it in a song as a background sound.”

The duo also worked with famed LA recording engineer and producer Adam Moseley on “Ravish.” Moseley has worked with artists including U2, The Blow Monkeys, Wolfmother, the Buzzcocks, The Cure, Nikka Costa, and television productions like FX Network’s Golden Globe winning series The Americans (main title). The intricate sonic landscape of “Ravish” required a professional as gifted and knowledgeable as Moseley to mix it in a manner conducive to the artist’s intentions.

It seems almost counterintuitive that the same artist whose Ohsergio release is subdued and bare in its honesty is also the cowriter and producer of an electronic hit like “Ravish.” However, this is all due to the life experiences of an artist as Sonia informs, “I am from Switzerland. I fell in love with electronic music when I still lived in Switzerland. I spent quite some time in Berlin in 2011-2012 and had a life changing experience listening to minimal techno on Funktion one speakers. Sound quality is everything when it comes down to electronic music. I never understood electronic music before, until spending hours at Berghain and in different clubs in Berlin. That's really where I started to understand the depth of electronic music in general. Because there are no lyrics, the music itself is the only medium and it can be more powerful of an experience. It's very instinctive, almost animalistic. I would go as far as to say that listening to electronic music in Berlin unlocked something in me. It's like it uncovered my artistic self. Being an artist or a producer is about presenting different parts of who you are.”

(Source – Sonia Schmidt)

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