Presented a DJ demo workshop, DRM & New Music Technology, Role of DJ as Producer/Remixer at the Dashanzi International Art Festival 2006, Beijing, China.
Performed at Peter Gabriel's WOMAD 2005 (2 hour DJ set), presenting an eclectix mix of world music with billboard hits to a world audience, at Singapore's Fort Canning Park.
WINNER of 2 Awards at the 2004 International Song Writing Competition :: 2nd Place, Electronic Cat. for the song "SUSHI" :: Honorable Mention, Electronic Cat. for the song "CRACK"
Growing up in Singapore, Rajesh Hardwani (a.k.a. r-H) fed himself musically on everything from funk and soul, to blues and hip-hop. This wide variety of influences would later play a vital role in his work as a musician, though he eventually expanded his creative palette even further to include electronica, big beat, drum and bass, jazz, and much more. It’s no surprise that some people find it difficult to classify his style. However, what may come as a surprise is how easily r-H takes these countless influences and meshes them together into a remarkably cohesive and wildly infectious sound that is all his own.
r-H got his start as a DJ back in the 80s, though he soon found himself spending more time at the microphone than at the decks. Soon he was writing his own rap songs, which he would later perform while serving as MC at different events. “This emboldened me to record and produce my own album,” he recalls. But although r-H had the songs, he didn’t have the beats to support them, and with the cost of digital music gear being much higher back then, he couldn’t afford the equipment to create the beats he needed. He also had a mandatory stint of military service on the horizon, and he quickly realized that his musical aspirations would have to be put on hold.
But his time with the military proved to be a blessing of sorts, because it was in boot camp that he met Anthony P V, who would later serve as the sound engineer on r-H’s debut rap album, Ethnic Jam, which r-H began working on in 1994. The album was released two years later, and stood out from other rap albums because of the way the raps were fused with Indian percussion. Aside from the help of Anthony P V, the creation of the album was largely a one-man show, with r-H writing, composing, producing, designing, and marketing the album himself, making it a tremendous learning experience for the young musician.
“It was one of my most trying moments,” says r-H of the album’s creation, “but I loved every minute of it. The bulk of my salary went into recording costs and printing the CDs. It was scary. I did not know, at times, what I was doing. I knew very well that I wasn’t going to make up for all of the expenses. This is Singapore, and local music productions don’t do that well.” But financial success was not the immediate goal. More important than that, r-H was still searching for his musical voice, and the hard work he put into his debut album helped him find it.
Instead of completing his first rap album and being inspired to begin work on another, r-H completed his first rap album and decided to take a different path, one that led toward working as a producer and remixer. “I came out focused and confident,” recalls r-H of completing his debut album, “and I learned how to use digital audio workstations and everything else about digital technology for the music and recording industry. I learned how to prepare press releases for various industries and what were the best times to send them out. I learned about the process behind the manufacturing of CDs, and the buying and selling policies at record stores. You can not learn this at school. You need to be hands-on with some element of pressure to succeed in this sort of environment. For me, finance was the pressure.”
But the financial pressure that forced him to learn all angles of the music industry also helped his creative side take major strides forward, and all of the new knowledge he accumulated helped develop many of the strategies he has been refining and perfecting ever since. These days, r-H uses handheld digital recorders to collect sound samples, and digital audio workstations to edit and fine-tune them. When he is satisfied, he blends the resulting sounds with Asian instrumentation and weaves a theme of hip-hop, jazz, or drum and bass through the entire piece.
An avid traveler, r-H takes his digital gear with him wherever he goes in order to record any sights and sounds that may become part of or inspiration for future audio and visual creations. This helps explain some of the remarkable diversity of r-H’s music, which includes elements of Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Malaysian, and Arabian cultures. The diversity is obvious not just from track to track or from one album to the next, but even within the course of a single song. When asked what makes his style unique, r-H answers, “Various genres and sounds from different lands in one track. I can not help but produce this way. I can start with a hip-hop beat and a cello as the bass, but have the Chinese erhu and pipa take over the melody and the Indian sitar bring in the hook. The bridge could be a drum and bass groove with Punjabi chanting. It’s music. It’s a repository of cultures through sound, and the variations in the track express my mood at the time of production.” This diverse approach to the craft seems to be attracting a diverse audience, as r-H already has fans scattered across the globe, from Iceland and the Netherlands to Malaysia and Australia.
Despite all this, you may still find yourself wondering what the music sounds like. In order to answer this question, we must first look at some of r-H’s influences, which he is more than happy to discuss. Earth, Wind and Fire, Kool and the Gang, KC and the Sunshine Band, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, L.L. Cool J, Run DMC, KRS 1, Mozart, Bach, Sly and the Family Stone, James Brown, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, A.R. Rahman, James Brown, B.B. King, Aerosmith, Wise Guys. These are just a few, though this partial list helps us see how diverse r-H is in both his listening and his creating. But you must also ask about artists he sees as similar and like-minded in what they create. Moby, Fat Boy Slim, Nitin Sawney, Badmarsh and Shri, Photek, Talvin Singh, Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx, DJ Icey, DJ Shadow, Karsh Kale, Groove Armada. Again, this is just a small portion of a long list.
But perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that r-H is not a musician that simply chops up and regurgitates things that other musicians have already done. His influences range from the aforementioned lists of fellow musicians, to the people and politics of the worlds around him. “I read all the time,” says r-H. “Psychology, culture, technology, and travel excite me. Such information makes you think. While most of my musical work is instrumental, my approach to a project and the feel of the track is based on my thought process at that time, and sometimes that depends on what recently had a great influence on me. It’s usually a subject that I just read.”
With his debut electronica album, Black Asia Volume 1, r-H has taken one big step toward reaching the goals he has set for himself, which include remixing for established artists worldwide and making a living through his music. Using an astounding variety of instrumentation, r-H aims to show you how Thai, Japanese, and Indian grooves and chants sound when layered over break beat and drum and bass. Thanks to the performance and production expertise he has accumulated over the years, the album is more polished and accessible than his previous works, which is a good thing, because this is music that truly needs to be heard. “‘Excited’ would be an understatement.” This is how r-H responds when asked how he feels about Black Asia Volume 1. “I believe this is the true, all-around Asian electronic music album, and I can’t wait for the industry to have a listen.”
And he isn’t going to just sit back and wait to be noticed. In addition to promoting Black Asia Volume 1, r-H is already hard at work on Black Asia Volume 2. He is also remixing for the R.I.P. Family, a rap and hip-hop crew out of Jacksonville, Florida, and Vandal, a rap and hip-hop artist from Toronto, Canada. r-H also recently had his track “Tim Sum Vindaloo” featured on the Asian Underground compilation, Asian Beat Bazaar, released by Virgin Records UK. In the future, r-H hopes to become involved with more remixing collaborations with other artists, and he plans to produce a sound library of Asian sounds and effects. But his aspirations in regard to the Asian culture do not stop there. “I want to see Asian artists and musical instruments receive recognition and success worldwide. I realize that Asian musicians tend to be followers and not leaders. That is, they’d sing in their mother-tongue, but to UK garage, American hip-hop, or blues. You never find it the other way around, and you can’t blame them. It’s a business at the end of the day, and the demand and supply factor plays a huge part. I incorporate ‘Asianism’ in my tracks, and I hope to show the world that Asian music and instruments can play a major role in music production, regardless of genre.”
Obviously, r-H is an artist who has set a high bar for himself, but he is also an artist who seems capable of going above and beyond that to which he currently aspires.
r-H (Rajesh Hardwani)
Laptop DJ, Bongos, Turntables
Indian Blues "FRENXY MIX" :: 2006 :: Single
Chameleon :: 2005 :: Single
Black Asia Volume 1 :: 2005 :: Album
Rip It Up :: 2004 :: Single
London Swing :: 2002 :: Single
Listen to tracks on ::
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"The work of Rajesh Hardwani, composer of this release, are most definitely eclectic. This artist bl..."The work of Rajesh Hardwani, composer of this release, are most definitely eclectic. This artist blends together sampled beats from just about every musical style imaginable and then blends it with middle eastern vocals and instruments. This melding of styles is simply fascinating . I was AMAZED with the work done on this album. He would make an excellent partner with DJ Tricky. The artist does all his own arranging, mixing, production and promotion. This release does not dissapoint. -Sonya Brown, Music Editor, GOTHIC BEAUTY MAGAZINE
Rajesh Hardwani produces an inspired and really original music.
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Review of BLACKASIA Vol. 1 on CNET 23 March 2005 Rare and precious mix of traditional Indian/As...Review of BLACKASIA Vol. 1 on CNET
23 March 2005
Rare and precious mix of traditional Indian/Asian music over great hypnotic beats. The track "Bollywood Lust" (3:48) is ideal for late night tasting and Sushi (3:46) and improbable eclectic hip-hop remarkable tune. Rajesh Hardwani produces an inspired and really original music.
Highly recommended and featured at Ethnotronics.com/Radio ~ Eric Tourlaville
Magical, sexy, mysterious, inspiring...
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REVIEW of BLACKASIA Volume 1 on GetUnderground.com 22 April 2005 Magical, sexy, mysterious, ins...REVIEW of BLACKASIA Volume 1 on GetUnderground.com
22 April 2005
Magical, sexy, mysterious, inspiring...and sometimes downright eerie indian rhythnms and eastern percussions layered over break beats, drum n bass beat, electro beats, and somehow, someway, it all sounds like it's meant to be that way...meant to be together.
A native of Singapore, and a veteran DJ and emcee, Rajesh Hardwani, as a memeber of the military for a brief stint, was infected with the travel bug and has been infected from coast to coast, ocean to ocean, by all the worldly influence he was able to absorb. he records sounds and rhythms and ideas from around the world under a variety of differenct circumstances, and fuses them all together into beautiful pieces, 17 of which are showcased on BlackAsia Volume 1.
I can't wait for Volume 2. ~ Wasim Muklashy of GetUnderground.com
Mind-boggling trip through the future orient of the past.
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Review of BLACKASIA Vol. 1 on Skratch Magazine 26 May 2005 I wasn't really sure how far I'd get...Review of BLACKASIA Vol. 1 on Skratch Magazine
26 May 2005
I wasn't really sure how far I'd get in life before hearing the unification of ancient oriental music with electronica, but I suppose I have now found out. R-H's BLACKASIA VOLUME 1 is a mind-boggling trip through the future orient of the past. That might not make any sense to the clueless passer-by, but upon listening to this record, a greater understanding will be achieved. Furthermore, the album is danceable. The drum 'n' bass rhythm is there to keep your body moving, while the sound of crickets and running fountains balances one's inner spirit. If you're interested in expanding the "club" section of your CD case, this would be a great place to start. Oh, and don't worry: there's bongos, too. ~ Zac
This CD repays multiple listens.
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Review of BLACKASIA Vol. 1 on Blogcritics.org 2 June 2005 r-H, Blackasia Volume 1 Here's a...Review of BLACKASIA Vol. 1 on Blogcritics.org
2 June 2005
r-H, Blackasia Volume 1
Here's an electronica CD with a more international pedigree and a wider variety of beats. r-H (Rajesh Hardwani) uses Indian instruments and chants, both to form some of the beats and to spice up the flavors. There are jazzy horns in "Salvation Man," Japanese themes in "Sushi," traditional Chinese stringed instruments, interludes built around various found sounds ("Hong Kong Terminal," "Chinese Medicine Hall"), and other interesting stuff, some set to clubby dance rhythms, some with more subtle and naturalistic percussion, all of it good. This CD repays multiple listens.
Buy it through the artist's website or from CD Baby. ~ Jon Sobel
...it's the wildest thing you've ever heard!
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REVIEW of BLACKASIA Volume 1 on NYRock.com 10 March 2005 Rajesh Hardwani is what the initials...REVIEW of BLACKASIA Volume 1 on NYRock.com
10 March 2005
Rajesh Hardwani is what the initials stand for, a man who once wanted to be a dj, but on this disc, found himself on the production end of things. And the 17 cuts here never lack for interest, partly due to rh's scavenging abilities. Seems he has assembled not just the beats, but the instrumentation that goes on top. Now that instrumentation might be an instrument found in Japan, or China, or India, or in Arabic cultures. Simply put, you never know what to expect. The result, however, is seamless. Far be it from me to be a fan of electronica, but the diversity on these tracks is captivating. On "Indian Blues," for example, a delta blues guitar starts up, and is then overlaid with what sounds like a bus terminal. Then the drums come in, Indian drums that is, and all of a sudden it's the wildest thing you've ever heard. And, sure, some of the 30-second interludes are merely filler, but when r-h is on his game, the songs are damned interesting. Though his website was listed as www.rh.hk, I could never get it to fire up properly. Maybe you can. ~ Bill Ribas
Set list can range anywhere from 30 minutes to 120 minutes. Depending on the location and the venue, r-H will play non-stop (DJ set mix of Billboard hits, Bollywood, Pop, Funk, Soul, Rock, World Music, Samba, Reggaeton, Rasta, Hip Hop, Bhangra, Salsa, Electronica, etc.) with intense audience interaction.
r-H has always been a hit with the crowd.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.