Arif Mir: a self-taught sound engineer

For the past few years, a collection of new songs released by various Kashmiri artists has not only captured the hearts of the public but also contributed to the musical sphere of Kashmir.

Hailing from the Bandipora district in northern Kashmir, Arif Mir was the sound engineer for several of these songs. Arif, 23, from Rakhi Hajin, started audio engineering and audio repair with his own songs when he was 17 years old.

He has done audio engineering for almost all the hit songs sung by Kashmiri artists including Lolan, Jingle, MBA, One Side Up, One Side Down and several other songs.

Having learned all about audio mixing on YouTube, he considers AR Rehman to be his greatest inspiration. “If I’m a sound technician today, it’s thanks to Rahman, sir. It wasn’t until I heard his songs on tape that I developed an ear for sound. Every time I heard his sound, it was amazing and it drew me to this area,” he says.

The songs he worked for were also released on Zee Music, Aazadi Records and local platforms.

“Lolan” was his first song, which brought him name and fame, and he spent nearly five years working on it. This song was written by her father, Ghulam Mohammed Mir, who runs a medical store in the locality of Hajin.

The song was produced by RJ Umar Nisar and Danish Tak. The two producers contacted the sound engineer after watching his videos on YouTube.

“They approached me to fix the audio of this song. Because the audio is the only difficult thing and not everyone is able to do the same. Soon after this project finished , the response from people has been overwhelming,” he said.

The huge response from people encouraged him and in no time opportunities started to come his way to Arif.

“I still spend all night preparing the music. And I’m happy to learn that on my own because no one could teach me musical engineering. What I’ve learned so far, I’ve learned from YouTube, and I’m continually learning new and modern things,” he said.

Mir has set up a makeshift studio in a single room on the patio of his house. He thinks the trust of artists is the best thing he has created. Although they had no professional training or degree in the field of audio engineering, the artists trusted his work.

“Some artists gave me their album when I set up a temporary studio. It was Down Town – the first successful album I created in the studio. When the musicians heard the recordings, they started asking me to record their music,” he said.

He was educated in his hometown of – Hajin and later moved to Srinagar, where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Computer Applications (BCA) from Cluster University. Besides possessing skills in audio engineering, he was the main tabla player.

“I didn’t study tabla and piano instead, I followed my love. My passion was the only thing that kept me going. I couldn’t resist what creativity was putting me in, even if I wanted to get into musical composition,” he explains.

Speaking about the common notion of getting a government job to earn a living, he said: “In Kashmir, people are running after government jobs, and no one is willing to identify their creative side and try to win. their lives in another way.”

For most people, a career in the music business is still foreign. Arif initially faced the same resentment from the people around, but he believed that with passion and hard work, one could create space and earn a living.

“When I started doing audio engineering, some people told me that I was wasting my time, but God had a better plan for me. By doing this job, I earn a nice sum. And I have hopefully the more time I spend on it, the more I will earn,” he said.

Currently, he is receiving full support from his family and learning new skills to improve himself which will further advance him in his career.

He said: “All I have to do now is invest time in learning new skills. I worked hard on these songs. It took me weeks to complete the projects. Currently, I have no problems with my work.

Believing that one day his struggles and hard work will pay off and he will have the opportunity to work with the best music organizations in the country, he said, “When I started this audio engineering, I didn’t know the ABC’s of that, but I was dedicated to this thing that I would become a successful sound engineer in the future.

Within the field of audio engineering, there are five specialized roles: sound engineer, mixing engineer, mastering engineer, live sound engineer and multimedia sound engineer. Each has a distinct role to play in the music industry, and the path to each career is distinct as well.

He thinks there are thousands of opportunities in the market and one can easily earn a living, but it takes dedication and patience.

“Parents spend huge amounts of money on educating their children and making them doctors and engineers, but there are very few people who think beyond those professions,” he said.

Talking about music production, he said sound engineers play a crucial role. A job in audio engineering impacts every part of the music industry, from capturing live sound to mixing music recordings to managing the technical aspects of audio equipment.

“A music producer’s primary job is to provide artistic direction for a recording session, but the role of a sound engineer is significantly different. Sound engineers can also be producers, but they must first understand the principles of audio creation,” he said.

In conclusion, he said, “In every field, people face problems, and most of them give up early, which is not good. If people give their all to their passion, sooner or later they will get good results.

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