Kiwi Indian musician and sound engineer Chaitanya Rajapurkar is one of the most promising faces of the community to watch out for in the coming years. The 21-year-old musician turned audio engineer has gained his experience under the biggest names in the Bollywood music industry and aims to establish his own music studio someday.

The Indian Weekender has followed the music prodigy’s journey from his early days almost five years ago when the self-learnt musician was seen composing music for the Indian Theatre Festivals, Bollywood music shows and few others witnessing his brilliance in such shows. 

Chaitanya realizing he has much more to learn and to offer, he took up Bachelor of Audio Production Degree from Southern Institute of Technology, Invercargill form where he graduated just late last year. 

Within this small span of three years, Chaitanya was able to bag a lifetime of an opportunity to work as an apprentice to father-son duo Aslam and Aftab Khan at their studio in Mumbai, India. 

Aftab Khan’s discography includes songs from the films Dishoom, Newton, Sultan, Housefull 3, Jolly LLB 2, Bang Bang, Kaabil, Dhadak, Baaghi, Kites, Anajaana Anjaani, Phantom to name a few. 

Chaitanya is currently working as an Entertainment Technician for SkyCity, Auckland and also as a mix engineer for Invercargill based band ‘Chartreuse and Black’ for their upcoming album. 

In a brief interview with The Indian Weekender, Chaitanya speaks about his passion for music, the transition from composing music to audio engineer, his experience in working with legendary music editors and his ambitions. 

IWK: What is the job of a sound engineer?

Chaitanya: If I can explain it simplest terms, an artist such as a producer or composer reaches out to us (sound engineers) for recording, mixing and mastering engineering. We proceed with recording different elements of the songs such as vocals, guitars, drums, etc. Once the song has finished its production stage, it moves to the mixing stage where each of the different instrument is presented as a separate element of a project file. We then clean the tracks by removing any unnecessary sounds and frequencies from each component to make sure everything is sounding ‘in tempo’. 

Once this is done, then the elements are mixed together by adjusting their volume levels, changing the panning and adding effects such as reverbs and delays to add more depth and character to the mix. 

When the mix is complete, the client signs off on it which goes to the next stage called mastering, and in this step, the song is mastered to make it ready for online distribution to sites such as Spotify, iTunes etc. In this stage, very minute changes are made, and the volume level of the track is set according to the guidelines. 

As a modern-day audio engineer, this is a long process, but back in the day of tape recordings and vinyl, this entire process would be done during the recording, and then the final product would be one seamless take.

IWK: Why did you move from composing music to audio engineer?

Chaitanya: I took this transition to grow in this industry and diversify my skills and learning. To become an engineer, I had to change my perspective about music- basically, see it from a technical standpoint, so I taught myself the basics and did my Bachelors of Audio Production at SIT. Also, working under Aslam and Aftab Khan has been an integral part of my learning as they mentored me on the recording, tracking, mixing and mastering- the knowledge and hands-n-experience I gained is not easily accessible. 

IWK: How was the experience working with Aslam and Aftab Khan in Mumbai?

Chaitanya: I was fortunate enough to work under them at such a young age. I would travel to Mumbai, India, during my holidays and semester breaks to work at Aftab Khan’s studio, headroom Studio. Under their supervision and mentorship, I learnt the tricks of the trade, and I was able to work with composers and singers such as Vishal Khurana (Jolly LLB 2), Praful Karlekar, Armaan Malik Amit Trivedi, Neeti Mohan, Rakesh Chaurasiya and many more. I also assisted Aftab Khan on live shows of Salim-Sulaiman and connected with some of the best musicians in the Bollywood industry.

IWK: Your education in New Zealand and real-time work experience in Mumbai, how diverse were they?

Chaitanya: I have learnt advanced studio production at Southern Institute of Technology, Invercargill, and post-production skills at SAE in Byron Bay, Australia, through an exchange programme via SIT. These skills have taught me the ability to work will all types of musicians in the world which ultimately enables me to relate to the style and vision of the musician. In Mumbai, the skills learnt under the music maestros in the studio and doing real-time work for big projects- it is simply invaluable. Both modes of learning have given me the confidence that will take me miles in my music career. 

IWK: How has been the support of the family and the community?

Chaitanya: As a Kiwi Indian, I am one of the only ones at my age to be pioneering as a sound engineer in the entertainment industry, and it feels great. The support from my family and the community has been incredible. Whatever I have become today, I owe it to my parents for their constant push for me to learn and implement my skills into the industry. 

IWK: What are your career goals, and where do you see yourself?

Chaitanya: My career goal is to have my own recording, mixing and mastering studio as-well be able to tour the world as the FOH Engineer for bands.