“I came across compilations made by fans and it was mind-blowing.” – the music producer who unexpectedly gained popularity in the K-pop industry.


The guitar tune from the Middle East in Blackpink’s song “How You Like That.” The whistling intro in Stray Kids’ “S-Class.” The saxophone melodies in Lisa’s songs “Money” and “Lalisa.” The chants from the crowd at the start of Seventeen’s “Super.” These iconic sounds, well-known to K-pop fans, were not created by the genre’s popular producers, but by one individual located thousands of miles away.

Not many individuals connect Niles Hollowell-Dhar to K-pop. He currently goes by the name Kshmr and initially gained recognition in the mainstream pop scene for co-producing the popular electro-house track Like a G6 in 2010. Over the past ten years, he has been a DJ at various festivals such as Coachella, Ultra, Sunburn, and Tomorrowland. During a video call from Croatia where he is set to perform at the Noa Beach Club, he mentions that he has never been interviewed about his samples being used in K-pop and is eager to do so now.

Hollowell-Dhar has gained widespread recognition among music producers for his popular sample packs, Sounds of Kshmr, in recent years. These packs, available on the digital music production platform Splice, offer a variety of diverse sounds. These sounds, typically brief in duration, may include loops (repetitive musical phrases like a guitar riff) or one-shots (individual sounds such as a cymbal). They can also be incorporated into the main instrumentals to enhance the overall sound of a song.

Kshmr’s sound packs are currently available for use without any royalties, meaning artists do not have to pay or give credit to the creator when using a sound in a track. Splice subscribers can purchase a sample pack with unlimited use, typically for a maximum of $99.99 per upload by Hollowell-Dhar (with the largest pack containing 7,000 sounds). To most people, this may seem like a small cost, especially when their work ends up on popular songs.

Hollowell-Dhar has a different perspective. He compares the situation to making a guitar and selling a million of them. Some of those guitars may end up being used in a popular rock song. However, he believes it would be unreasonable to expect royalties from that song.

Double trouble … Niles Hollowell-Dhar with David Singer-Vine, AKA the Cataracs, in 2011.

Unable to reword.

Hollowell-Dhar would often ask his classmates to come to his homemade recording studio in his home. During high school, he also wrote a song criticizing another student, David Singer-Vine, for his acne. Luckily, Singer-Vine was not offended and their mutual passion for music brought them together to create the hip-hop duo known as the Cataracs in 2003.

skip past newsletter promotion

They consistently worked on three albums, but were unsuccessful in gaining widespread recognition. However, in 2010, their fortunes changed when they collaborated on Far East Movement’s popular song, “Like a G6.” The track dominated the US charts for three weeks and has since gained over 608 million streams on Spotify. This propelled them to instant fame. Hollowell-Dhar reflects, “At the time, I was producing for anyone who would work with me. But when “Like a G6″ was released eight months later, it completely transformed my life.” After Singer-Vine left the Cataracs in 2012, Hollowell-Dhar continued to produce for popular artists like Enrique Iglesias, Robin Thicke, and Selena Gomez. Two years later, he shifted his focus to dance music and began releasing songs under the name Kshmr.

During a similar period, Splice executives reached out to him. The platform initially served as a platform for producers to work together, but has since expanded into a sound marketplace and sample library. Its loops have been featured in numerous popular songs, including those by Lil Nas X and Justin Bieber. Hollowell-Dhar, pleased to see innovation in the music production industry, invested a small amount of money into Splice. He was also the first artist to release personalized sound packs on the platform. Today, eight years later, these packs have established him as one of the most influential figures in the background of K-pop.

He is aware that his samples are being widely used. He expresses his amazement, saying, “I couldn’t pinpoint the exact ones that caught my attention, but seeing my samples being used in K-pop fan-made compilations blew my mind.” He doesn’t have much interaction with the industry itself, but he did collaborate with Indian singer Armaan Malik and K-pop idol Eric Nam on his 2021 release “Echo.” Hollowell-Dhar is open to exploring different genres, as long as he is educated about them. He praises Eric’s amazing singing voice and takes pride in their collaboration. He has no plans to raise his prices, as he wants his sounds to be affordable. He reflects, “I’m always surprised by how little I care about money compared to others. How much do you really need? I can easily order pizza or pay for my dog’s surgery without a second thought, and I’m content with that.”

In addition, he is achieving great success. His most recent project is a hip-hop album called “Karam,” which showcases Indian artists exclusively. Hollowell-Dhar, who goes by the stage name KSHMR as a tribute to his Kashmiri roots, explains, “I no longer try to impose my Indian background on my work as much. I used to be determined to introduce Indian elements to Western dance music fans, but now I only incorporate them when it fits organically.”

Throughout his career, from rap to pop to Indian hip-hop, one thing has remained unchanged: his genuine passion for music. This passion ultimately led Hollowell-Dhar to leave the profitable pop industry years ago, as he began to prioritize the scientific aspect of creating a hit song over the actual music. He found himself unable to distinguish between what he truly enjoyed and what solely brought in financial success.

Ironically, despite not seeking fame in the pop world, Hollowell-Dhar’s use of samples has led him to collaborate with some of its most well-known figures. For the musician, sampling allows him to compensate for not being able to explore all of his musical interests. He views it as a tribute to the music gods, stating calmly that while he may not be able to release a thousand Kshmr songs in a year, his samples give rise to a thousand small ideas.

Source: theguardian.com

You May Also Like

More From Author