Underexposed is a weekly series that explores all kinds of new indie rock and metal! Today we check out some new wild, progressive music with a twist!
UnderExposed: New Independent Music!
While we have reached out to musicians before, it’s time that we made it official! “Underexposed” is a brand new series of articles that focuses on underground/indie Metal artists that are making big waves in the scene. We have been really excited about this project, and we love giving back to the community! Hopefully, each week, we will have a new artist for you to explore, with their latest single.
While it has never been easier to record your music and get it out there these days, this comes as a double edged sword. It may be easy to get your music recorded and sounding great even at the home level these days, with various tools that are producer quality, yet available to the general public. But the hard part, is gaining an audience in such a saturated market, especially when it comes to metal. Electrikjam hopes that it can shine a spotlight on these newer bands, and generate a new audience for them.
But let’s get going with the new format. The way this works, is I review the track and talk about production and we have a short interview with the band. At the end, we will share with you how to submit your own band/project for the Underexposed Series. Today we check out Hoomzeh “Floof!
Hoomzeh (Hamzah Khan) is totally new to the scene, and I got to check out his latest single called “Floof”. The song starts out sounding pretty familiar, but you’re in for a wild ride. If you think that this is just another “chill guy tapping everything” style of song a la Plini, then you’re dead wrong. There are a lot of twists and turns! If you think this is going to be a Covet ripoff, you are also very mislead. But if you thought this was a boss fight in Mega Man… you might be right!
After a rather relaxed intro and beginning, things start to get tense. When the song breaks out and gets heavy, we have a pretty amazing solo that shows Hamzah’s technical prowess with the fretboard. The solo has some really beautiful phrasing that often gets lost in the shred when someone starts playing fast, but he reels it in just enough to stay musical and interesting. This seems like a lost art these days, with Instagram shredders playing at 300bpm. It’s nice to hear a melody amongst the chaos. I wasn’t expecting the next turn that we take, but it was definitely welcome.
The song gets dreamy towards the end, and has a Pink Floyd vibe to it. After the first couple of minutes of the song, this is the last place you think Hamza is going to take you. But this flows really well with the rest of the song, and gives breathing room to the much more dense first half. Not only do we have some laid back, chill synth parts, but we have some spacey bends going on in the background that give everything atmosphere. By the time you’ve caught the groove, “Floof” disappears. This is a cool way to end the song, and it makes you want to hit the repeat button and start all over again.
There are a lot of sophisticated guitar techniques going on throughout the whole song. Between tapping, lead alternate picking, and ambient sounds…it’s a lot to take in from one player. I know I heard a lot of influences, and I knew video games was going to fit in there somewhere, and I was right! So we caught up with Hoomzeh, and asked him all of the important questions!
Who are your influences? Who was the person that made you pick up guitar?
Oh man, this is going to be my longest answer by far – sorry!
Before I even played guitar, I played a lot of video games. Two of my favorite games as a kid were Sonic Adventure and Halo 2, which heavily featured the playing of Jun Senoue and Steve Vai, respectively. My family also shaped a lot of my love for music growing up. My uncle was a huge fan of guitar playing and showed me all these amazing 80s virtuosos like Satch and Yngwie, in addition to lots of classic rock, blues, and metal.
Through my parents I was hearing all kinds of stuff ranging from Rush, to Pearl Jam, to Michael Jackson… and everything in between. And of course, for a period of time in middle school, I chose to temporarily ignore any band that existed outside of Linkin Park and Three Days Grace. Through all of that, I remember thinking of how cool it would be to try and emulate the guitar playing I was hearing from all these different places.
When I started playing guitar in high school I eventually decided to revisit Joe Satriani’s music on my own, and it blew my mind. He was the first of many guitarists that would inspire me to sit and practice for hours and hours at a time. About a year after that, two of my best friends introduced me to Meshuggah, Animals as Leaders, and Periphery. That experience completely shattered my perception of what guitar playing and music could be (as a bonus, Periphery’s song “Have A Blast” introduced me to the otherworldly playing of Guthrie Govan). That was my gateway into this new world of modern, progressive, guitar-based instrumental music. Before I knew it I was nonstop listening to artists like Plini, CHON, David Maxim Micic, Intervals, Sithu Aye, Owane, Polyphia, Arch Echo, and so many more.
From there it was just a rollercoaster of discovering new and fascinating music all the time, ranging from math rock to jazz to electronic to RnB and more. Off the top of my head, some of my favorite artists from different genres these days are Covet, Hikes, Tigran Hamasyan, Jacob Collier, Anomalie, Tennyson, and Tom Misch. That’s not even to mention the never-ending list of more mainstream bands and artists I’m always listening to. I’ve also always had a huge affinity for music from video games and animated movies and I take a lot of inspiration from composers like Marty O’Donnell, Nobou Oumestu, Koji Kondo, Hiroyuki Sawano, Hans Zimmer, and John Powell.
What kind of gear are you using (guitar/DAW/plugins/etc?
I own two Ibanez guitars (s670qm and ART420). I run these into Logic through a Scarlett Solo interface and primarily rely on NeuralDSP for guitar tones, GetGoodDrums plugins for drums, and Submission Audio plugins for bass. Everything else is done using stock Logic sounds.
You Record Everything Yourself, What Is That Like?
For me, everything’s fairly straightforward. All I really need to record is my guitar, interface, my computer with Logic on it, and a few plugins. Everything else is a matter of programming MIDI, adjusting velocities, automating, panning, and all of that good stuff that helps make a song sound a tad more organic. With working full time and trying to manage all the other trials and tribulations of day-to-day life, it’s great to have the freedom and the tools to be able to record in my own bedroom at my own convenience.
What was the writing process for “Floof”?
I wrote the song in about a day or two in February 2020. At that time, I was still wrapping up school stuff and I definitely did not have the gear I wanted to make music. The song ended up getting shelved when the world started falling apart in March. A few months later, I decided to bite the bullet and buy myself some monitors and plugins.
That inspired me to finally record, program, and create a rough mix for the entire song over the course of a weekend in August. My computer didn’t have quite enough RAM to handle the number of tracks I was working with and I was thrown system overload errors about every two minutes, but the feeling of bouncing the final demo out was amazing.
Unfortunately, I think I had this persistent and recurring sense of fear about releasing music that caused me to shelve the song for almost an entire year after that. After slowly driving myself crazy over an extended period of time, I decided enough was enough and hit up a friend to mix the song in person. I ended up driving to his place in Austin and watching him mix the whole thing in his room while providing my own feedback.
A few weeks after the mix was finalized, I got the artwork taken care of, crossed my fingers, and finally published it. Cumulatively, this song was probably made in less than a week’s worth of time, but from start to finish, it took over a year and a half to transition it from a barebones idea to a fully fleshed-out piece.
You can sit down with any guitarist for an hour and pick their brain. Who would you pick?
My jazz/fusion vocabulary is definitely lacking and I’ve always been incredibly inspired by the playing of guitarists like Tom Quayle, Greg Howe, and Guthrie Govan, so it would probably be an incredible experience to cry in front of them/take lessons from any one of them.
Editor’s note: I would cry in front of Guthrie also.
Any future releases or full album plans?
Yes! I’m currently in the middle of writing for my first EP. There’s not a date set in stone just yet, but I’m roughly targeting a Spring 2022 release. Depending on how busy life is, I’ll aim to have a second EP released either by late 2022 or early 2023, and I’d love to keep going from there!
Your sound has a metal edge to it, but it’s also kind of mellow. What do you hope people take from it?
I hope it drives home the idea that genres are just labels that we use to group things in our minds; you don’t necessarily have to stick to one sound as long as you’re not just supergluing riffs together with reckless abandon. I think it’s fair to say that the art we make is really just the sum of our influences mixed in with our own unique life experiences, thoughts, and emotions.
Discovering the wave of incredible progressive musicians that started as bedroom guitarists (Plini, Sithu Aye, David Maxim Micic, etc.) was a revelation to me. It showed me that not only could I make music from the comfort of my own room, but also that there doesn’t necessarily have to be hard and fast rules about how to write your own music.
From an emotional perspective, this song is reflective of the highs and lows in life that I’ve experienced over the last year and a half. I consider it to be a pretty lighthearted and fun song in the grand scheme of things, but ironically, it was partially inspired by personal loss. I hope it takes people on a small but meaningful journey and gives someone, somewhere, a reason to make art of their own!
Thanks for the interview Hoomzeh, and I hope we get to feature a future track soon!
Keeping Up With Hoomzeh:
Youtube Channel: Hoomzeh
Spotify: Hoomzeh Official
Do You Want Your Band Featured On Underexposed?
We would love to reach out to newer artists, and help you promote your new tracks! All you have to do is send a message to Christopher. In your email please include your press kit and bio. Please also include links to your music, and a brief description as to why you think your fit the bill for an Underexposed interview!
Contact Christopher at: Cah111480@gmail.com