With an addictive riff with an oriental touch, some fierce percussion and a deep sub, Justin Sandoval aka APHTA drops a pure instrumental trap banger. “Indra Net” is an electronic ode to intensity. Read our discussion below.
Describe your sound in three words
Trippy Futuristic Journeys
What is the story behind your name?
I was previously releasing music under my actual name, but I decided to create the APHTA moniker to better brand my artistry and separate it from the other work I’m involved in as a musician and sound engineer.
APHTA is another pronunciation of the word “After”, which to me evokes a sense of temporality and impermanence as well as lineage and inheritance (continuing musical traditions, sampling, seeking inspiration from those who came before). It represents change, as in, what comes after? It represents constantly seeking a goal, as in, what am I really after? It represents transformation into different states of being, as in the afterlife or the hereafter. And finally it represents leaving behind a body of work that can continue to inspire people after I’m gone.
Your music has a strong sense of nerve. Tell us a few things about your creative process. What comes first? The melodies or the beats?
Thank you, I really appreciate that. Hip hop is what really got me into production and eventually into electronic genres, so I usually like to start with a sample to manipulate. From this I’ll form a motif that I can then build the beat around. The sample will sometimes suggest multiple sets of chord changes that could go under it, or a bassline, etc, so I’ll try to see if I can create distinct A and B sections, and a bridge if I’m lucky. After creating the song structure, then I’ll start to get more creative with sound design, effects, and beat drops / fills – the aspects of production where I can show off a little and elicit reactions from listeners. For this particular song I was digging around Splice for Turkish and Middle Eastern instruments, and pulled a few samples that I felt could be combined to create the progression. I like to experiment with sounds from different genres, in this case combining older, nostalgic sounds with the more futuristic synths, 808s and percussive stuff to create a unique soundscape.
What is your favorite album of the past year?
I really like Machinedrum’s A View of U. Others in heavy rotation are PARTYNEXTDOOR’s PARTYMOBILE, Zora Jones’ Ten Billion Angels, Alphafox’s La Haine.
Can artificial intelligence replace composers?
Artificial intelligence is already capable of creating music, albeit eerie imitations of human music, but I see no reason why that won’t continue to improve. AI can also be used to handle certain tasks or processes that make life easier for composers – generating many variations on a particular rhythm, for instance, or digging through large datasets for a sound or timbre. The prospect of AI replacing composers shouldn’t be scary though – instead, it should inspire humans to innovate even more, and create music that really moves people and strikes at the heart of who we are as a species. If there are qualities to human-made music that separate it from AI-generated music, I think we should pursue those qualities, explore why they work, and strive to bring them out even more.
In which state of mind do you imagine people might listen to your music?
Whatever makes them comfortable. Maybe in an altered state, or a creative flow state while working on some task or art. On a massive system that shakes the earth and can be heard miles away. Or in their car driving, or living room dancing, I’m all for it!
If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
I think cultivating a practice of giving credit and compensation to everyone who contributed even in some small way to a project is important. Credit people on socials, make your circle wider and bring people into the fold. This spirit of cooperation is crucial to creating great work. And bringing out the experience of deep diving / discovery on our listening platforms even more – make it easier for listeners to explore everything that artists, songwriters, session players, producers, engineers, etc. have worked on, and where these people overlap. That would be really cool.
What was the best film you have watched during the quarantine?
One last thing we should know about you?
I’m trying to get better at creating visuals for the music, so stay tuned for more of that 🙂