Partha Sarathi Gouda
Sound Engineer and Beat Producer
Passionate about and an expert in the realms of both music and technology, Partha produces his own tunes and beats across a variety of genres and is the creative director of the music team at Madhuban Performing Arts, a not-for-profit organization from Calgary.
Partha Sarathi Gouda holds a master's degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Calgary. Besides being the creative director of the music team at Madhuban performing arts, Partha also performs at different venues around Calgary as pianist and singer for the Madhuban Band. He is the resident music producer and sound engineer at Madhuban Performing arts. Partha has also been selected as one of 11 Mentees in the first cohort of Immigrant Arts Mentorship Program (IAMP). His team was recently invited to perform at the Chinook Blast, 2023 at Stephen Avenue . Notably, Partha holds the credit as the Sound Designer for a regional Indian movie.
I feel really motivated to contribute more to the arts in Calgary not only as a musician but also as a supporter to the amazing artists.
You’ve found yourself at the intersection where music and technology meet. How have you explored the union of art and engineering?
My curiosity to find out how things work. Being an engineer by training, I am curious to analyze anything and everything. I try to bring in this curiosity to my music. When I was first exposed to music, there was something that stood out to me, the interpretation of music in my own experience. My initial exploration in the realm of music came from unconventional ways, as I didn’t have a proper music education. It started out from my friend who was a musician himself and he would give me the basic knowledge of music theory but I then took further exploration.
Being an engineer, I am very inclined to ask questions about everything and dig deeper. For me everything always came back to the process of engineering and the thinking of why things are set up a certain way and why do we approach them in a certain way. Those questions basically led me to explore music more intimately and engage with music more.
You can say my approach to music is unconventional than probably a lot of other artists out there. When I was attending lecture classes, some of the things that were taught in my electrical engineering background, I found some of the concepts were directly related to music theory and practice. I drew a parallel between engineering and music. Those things have a direct correlation.
Music is an ocean and we are only now scraping the surface. The vastness of what's possible excites me to create my works.
When I was in class I wasn’t able to relate to real world problems but when I connected with music, I realized that a lot of what I’ve been learning in engineering school was very much applicable. The knowledge I gained in the classroom was directly related to music. So that led me to the more technical parts of music creation; music production and sound design.
The interesting thing is I’ve had the pleasure of being around a lot of really great musicians my whole life, so I got to be inspired and learn more things, things I wouldn’t normally explore that I was exposed to through them and now it's all connecting! It helps me a lot in music production and sound engineering. In sound engineering, we have a signal flow and I ask where the sound actually comes from and like to identify all the steps in between. I try to link those bridges between the start and end point.
What are you currently working on?
I am a part of a non-profit organization, called the Madhuban Performing Arts. We are a band. I am also the resident producer and the creative director of the music team.
I would love the people of Calgary to attend our concerts and catch Madhuban Music perform and play Indian fusion music live. It will definitely be worth your while!
Madhuban Performing Arts was invited to perform as part of the Chinook Blast, 2023 showcase on Stephen Avenue by Calgary Tourism. We also perform at local community events around the city.
So when we get gigs and there is anything sound engineering related, I handle all of that. I also play keyboard so as a band we perform at different shows. Our band has open mic shows happen regularly every month throughout different venues in the city, mostly downtown bars in Calgary.
In terms of music, I’d say we lean towards the hard rock genre. We are also working on productions and live music in a theatre scenario.
The show is themed around Vedic teaching about life cycles and a modern artistic take on how it looks like today.
The production that is coming up in September is really exciting! We are also looking for grants for that as it’s a big production and we need funding.
After 7 years of building relationships in the community, contributing to various non-profitable causes and cultural initiatives, Madhuban Performing Arts is taking the leap to stage their first-ever production which showcases the best of their performing teams. We are hoping to showcase this on September 16 at the GRAND Theatre.
This production will be an amalgamation of the three performing arts disciples: drama, dance and music.
What was it like working on a movie as the Sound Designer?
The movie is called Rati Sari Sari Jauchi. It was a regional movie around a tragic love story, happening just after the pandemic in 2021. A friend of mine is a composer and reached out to me from India interested in me joining the team. I worked on the sound design of the movie, as well as the trailer.
How do you see your art evolving and what do you dream to achieve in the future?
As a music producer, I am definitely looking for opportunities to be involved in movies, video games and other avenues. That is where I feel like I can really contribute as well. So that’s two aspects of my artistic development; the band is an integral part of being a musician for me, and as a producer, I want to have as much work as possible, movies, background, and so on. As a musician, of course the band is a big focus and something that I want to continue being closely involved in as a performer.
My goal for the next few months is to create music which brings in the melodic nuances of Indian classical music and the harmonic nuances of Western music into one fusion piece.
What have been your greatest challenges as a newcomer artist? How do you see your growth as an artist since coming to Canada?
I came to Canada as a graduate student in the Fall of 2016, so time flies - it’s been seven years already! Artistically, it is not uncommon for Immigrants and newcomer artists to face identity related problems, and I am no different in this. In an ideal world, being an artist, I want people from different walks of life to enjoy and relate to the music I create like I do, but this also means to present the work in a way that may not be a true representation of the artform itself. So reaching a universal audience who enjoy the style of music you play is often the biggest challenge.
Since art is always associated with a cultural context, relatability of the art form becomes challenging.
Back in India, I was constantly around all of these great musicians and learning music, performing in a band in college. And we were going all around India. It wasn’t just in college, we got to perform all over the country, performing at festivals and things like that. So when I came here, music was definitely not a priority right away at that point.
As an immigrant, and I think everyone goes through this, you need to get your feet grounded first and foremost. When I came here, my education was a priority but at the same time I had a home studio just in my bedroom then and I’d be on my laptop in my spare time doing what I can and learning more about producing.
I met a friend who was also a musician and a singer and we had the idea of finding venues to perform at. The good thing is the university is big and there were surprisingly a lot of musicians too. There were open mic and these talent shows that would happen. So we just went for it, gave it a shot to see what we can do.
When we went to perform in the competition, it really was a push but a huge positive boost. I realized that people liked what they heard and that was really meaningful and a stepping stone to where I’m at now and my growth.
Insecurities aren’t uncommon for immigrants, leaving the home country and entering a completely different world. I relate to this and as an artist, you want people to relate to you as well. I come from India and culturally our countries are very different, so you have these thoughts of will my performance here actually be able to connect to the audience or will it just be a bust and a fluke? That was always an insecurity, thinking are we even needed here?
But looking at that performance and the competition, it became clear that no, there are people that see us for who we are and enjoy what we do. It was a slow and long process but definitely worth the effort. We started our band in 2018 and until then, we hardly had any gigs. As soon as the pandemic was done, people started approaching us for shows and we started to have more opportunities. During that time, production was taking off as well, the movie was in the works. It’s honestly a mix of challenges, successes and happy coincidences.
Can you tell us about your mentorship experience and how it has impacted you as an artist in Calgary?
One of my band members sent me a link to the Immigrant Arts Mentorship Program and really encouraged me to apply for it and so I did. About three months later, I received the news that I was accepted into the program. I was super excited to be a mentee!
I was very fortunate to be part of the first cohort of the IAMP program, and it was an incredible experience.
It not only helped me get in touch with some of the best Immigrant artists in Calgary but also exposed me to a knowledge base of art opportunities and grants that I would not have otherwise known. My mentor Maud Salvi, the executive director of Sled Island was also really considerate and helped me realize so much about practicing my art in Canada.
I will always be very grateful for my IAMP experience. It's one of those things which I feel like if it didn’t happen to me, I would have never known so many helpful resources here. Because in my band, we are all close friends as well as bandmates, so the information seemed limited as we mostly stuck close to one another and localized, not being exposed to other things.
But with ICAI, what happened is my thinking and my knowledge really increased about the existing opportunities in the city. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Arts Commons at the time when I came here! Knowing about the funds and the grants that are actually available in the city is extremely helpful.
It's a very encouraging thing to have a more open lens into the structure of things here.
It made me very happy to find out all of these opportunities were present here. It was definitely a pivotal point for me. Otherwise, I would just be doing my own thing and would keep being in my small bubble and going at my own pace without really knowing the basic structure.
Without ICAI, I wouldn’t be able to have such rapid growth in Calgary without the connections and the knowledge.
During my cohort of the program, (first IAMP) there were just a few of us who were musicians and the remaining majority were visual artists. I’ve found them all to be so inspiring and talented. The visual artists were incredible! It’s actually an understatement to say they were incredible. I saw their work and it gave me a push, inspiring me to up my game. I find myself very fortunate that I was a part of that because as an artist, it shows how much time and commitment goes into the process. A lot of the time of working in isolation, you think you’re doing the best you can but when you look at other artists, you realize there is more to it and more potential for outcomes.
Has ICAI provided any specialized information for you? How did that help your work?
ICAI's monthly sessions with some of the top artists and art administrators in the city were highly informative. Some of the grant opportunities available were discussed in detail during these sessions. My team at Madhuban Performing Arts and I are applying for one of these grants using the valuable information shared during these sessions. Hoping that we can secure it which would be great for our showcase of south Asian music and dance forms.
Do you have any words of wisdom for other newcomer artists?
Grab every opportunity you can! For me, it all started with a very small opportunity, just performing at a talent show competition. Every single thing that you do is one step further. So don’t think that an opportunity will come up again. Just grab it!
Approach the process one step at a time but remember you don’t know where you may end up. I never thought that in seven years after coming here I would be performing in a theatre production or that I would be working on a movie. You are learning in your own way and that grabbing onto every opportunity is a learning experience in its own way.
And don’t expect anything else. Do it as a commitment to yourself. Create the art because you want to do it, not because you are expected to do it. I never expected any of this. I knew I wanted to perform in a band but it can be a hit and miss as well. You have to be lucky enough to find musicians who are like minded as you and who would commit the same amount of time as you. That is also a very important thing. I tell myself to always keep trying and keep going but it’s good to not have the biggest expectations of the bat as well.