Interview: Prashant Aswani

Dan McAvinchey: Prashant, your first CD "Revelation" is a favorite here on the Guitar Nine site. What did you plan to do differently for "Duality"?

Prashant Aswani: On "Revelation", I went for a raw vibe by only using guitar, bass, and drums. "Duality", however, was a much larger production. The compositions are more developed, with added textures and subtle nuances. It features electric and acoustic guitars, guitar synth, keyboards, bass, and drums. Rhythm has always been an important part of my playing. The new CD maintains the strong rhythmic focus found on "Revelation". This time I explored new melodic and harmonic concepts. The result is a more fusion-sounding album.

Dan McAvinchey: Where and how was the new CD recorded?

Prashant Aswani: The CD was recorded at Tilt Studios in Easton, PA. I used two Alesis ADATs.

Dan McAvinchey: Did you have any special guest musicians on this release?

Prashant Aswani: Greg Howe and I played an acoustic duet ("Order of Dawn"). Basically we came up with a groove in 3 and looped it. We recorded eight minutes of the
groove and just started working through the song and overdubbed our parts as we went along. Later we added in all the textures (guitar-synth, percussion, and strings). Greg also has one other guest solo on "Little Miss Lover", which is a Jimi Hendrix tune off "Axis Bold As Love". Al Howe sang on this track as well. This was the first time
I worked with Al. He can really sing! Working with him was a great pleasure, and I hope to do so again in the future.

Gian Marco Benvenuti, the keyboard player for my band in Italy, sent me a song idea. I took that idea and added a bunch of textures and melody and played with the arrangement. This is the song I end the album with and it is called "Q-sonic". Gian Marco is a phenomenal keyboard player.

Dan McAvinchey: How do you typically get the ideas for your compositions? Do you have a particular method you use for writing?

Prashant Aswani: My ideas come from different rhythms and melodies that always flow through my head. When I'm in writing mode, the mediums I will use to replicate these ideas are bass, guitar, and guitar synth. I don't really have a set pattern for my writing. When I have to write for an album, I put everything aside and play as much as I can. Sometimes the ideas come very easily and other times I really have to dig deep for

When I come up with a groove or a melody that I like I really try to build on that. Guitar synth and bass were helpful tools for me on this album. For me, the key is to just keep on playing because the more I play, the more my ideas turn into songs.

Dan McAvinchey: Do you plan to continue to record and release instrumental guitar solo albums in the future?

Prashant Aswani: Absolutely. I'm also planning on some vocal releases in the near future. I really love all styles of music, and voice has a key role in many of them. Of course, guitar will always be my first love, and I will always have the desire to showcase it.

Dan McAvinchey: Are there any other guitarists or musicians you'd love to record or collaborate with in the future?

Prashant Aswani: I enjoy collaborating with other musicians. I feel that music gets better with collaboration. I would love to work with Prince one day. His lyrics and his music are absolute genius. Another musician that I would love to work with is Zakir Huassain, an Indian percussionist. I really dig his style and the way he uses polyrhythms.

Dan McAvinchey: What do you think sets the music of Prashant Aswani apart from the other guitarists out there?

Prashant Aswani: The first music I was exposed to from childhood, was Indian classical music. Indian clasical music is very rich with melody. The first instrument I learned to play was tabla. Tabla gave me a strong sense of rhythm, which I kept when I started playing guitar. This early exposure to melody and rhythm has had a great impact on my writing and playing. I think this sets my music apart from the other guitar albums that are out there.

Dan McAvinchey: Do you think you'll ever explore any new musical directions?

Prashant Aswani: Yes. I was just in the studio writing with some musicians from India; Ronu Majumdar (bamboo flute) and Abhijit Banerjee (tabla). The music is a fusion of Classical Indian music (ragas) with Western harmony and very modern electric guitar tones. We plan on recording an album some time this year. I am looking forward to this project because the music is very different from anything I have recorded before.

interview pic

Dan McAvinchey: Do you ever feel overwhelmed as an independent artist?

Prashant Aswani: There is a lot involved in being an independant artist. I have to thank my father who does the bulk of my representation. He has been a big help with the business side of things. When i am on tour or in the studio it is difficult to keep up with emails and phone calls. It is important to have good mangement to handle these kinds of things for you.

Dan McAvinchey: How do you feel the music press, including the well known guitar magazines, are currently dealing with guitar-oriented music, especially from instrumental artists and bands?

Prashant Aswani: I have done interviews with quite a few leading Japanese and European magazines. My experience with them has been very positive. As far as US magazines are concerned, it is hard for me to say how they are handling guitar-oriented music, because I haven't dealt with them much in the past. There just doesn't seem to be that much of a market for insturmental music in the US as there is overseas. I hope that will change in the future.

Dan McAvinchey: What would be the first thing you'd do if you ever made a large amount of money from your music?

Prashant Aswani: To be honest I don't think about that very often. I am thankful that I am able to make a living and support myself with music. I try to focus on the present and not think too much about what will happen in the future.

interview picture
One of the hottest independent guitarists out there today is Prashant Aswani, who has recently released his second instrumental CD, entitled "Duality". Produced by Shrapnel Records recording artist Greg Howe, the CD reflects Aswani's maturation, his melodic and rhythmic gifts, and a few surprises (a guest vocal by Al Howe and a fiery acoustic duet with Greg). Featured again are an album's worth of blazing fusion runs and creative solos. Clearly, Aswani is at the top of his game, and "Duality" will help him futher broaden his audience.

Dan McAvinchey caught up with the busy Aswani to discuss his latest project and what the future may bring.