As more Indian DJs / producers get booked abroad and global audiences at music festivals here are getting bigger, top artistes talk about the EDM scene in 2015.
A pioneer of the Indian dubstep scene, co-founder of Bandish Projekt
Fusing western and Indian sounds: I’ve been doing this for the last 15 years. But when I started Nucleya that’s when I started simplifying it quite a lot — making it more dancey.
Earlier I was doing more intelligent stuff. But dance music is supposed to be repetitive and simple. Artist to follow: Su Real — this guy is from Delhi and he makes beautiful electronic music.Coming up: The album that I’m starting work on is 80 per cent collaborations. Because I haven’t actually recorded the tracks, I can’t tell you who they are yet, but you should watch out for that. It will be releasing in October.On your playlist: There’s Bob Archey — it’s piano music. It’s cool to use that and make something else out of it. I listen to everything — classical, folk, ambient stuff, rock, drum and beat — that is interesting and different.
Most popular Indian artist in the global circuit
? Must attend festivals: It’s one of the reasons why we started Reset (an electronic music showcase started in 2014) — to go back to how
music should be heard: on an amazing sound system, in a dark room.
? Is vinyl back? Vinyl will never die! There are way too many people who love the format, including myself—who might not play it, but collect and buy religiously. Will it make a massive comeback? Probably not because it’s not really convenient to carry a 50 kg bag of vinyl while you are travelling for gigs. The digital formats will stay — but I’m sure there will be improvements to sound quality.
Mumbai-based electronica artist, producer and pianist
Coming up: April and May is when I’m looking forward to coming back (from the US) and gigging. I’m working on new material so there will also be a lot of releases this year. I would love for a chance to collaborate with Sam Wills in the UK, so I’m trying to work that out at the moment.Must visit festivals: Magnetic Fields, NH7. I’m actually waiting for the next one. It’s definitely an upward curve at the moment, but there needs to be more festivals.Need of the hour: More people to get involved — to consume music, to make it. More venues, gigs, promoters, artistes, managers, websites, blogs, apps.
Directing intention and technology towards music consumption. And the basic understanding across the board of how music is one of the toughest forms of media, because people have started consuming it so easily that it’s difficult for artistes to make a living off it.On venues in India: There needs to be more that come up for various purposes. Community-orientated art share spaces. Old warehouses, mills dedicated to supporting art.
While Tiesto and David Guetta have played in India twice, Paul van Dyk has made four trips to the subcontinent since 2010 and John 00 Fleming has visited every year, since 2007. Close to 10 Indian DJs have played at international festivals, including Tomorrowland in 2014, and top 10 contenders like Deadmau5, Tiesto and Avicci play at various venues across India every other year. “India has arrived and is part of the international touring calendar, and our local producers are also making their presence felt on the global market,” says Arjun Vagale, one of the top DJs and producers in the country. While Vagale himself is headed to Europe later this year, BLOT is scheduled to play in the UK and Sanaya Ardeshir (aka Sandunes) is booked in the US. “I’m doing a music residency, an India and Pakistan collaboration hosted in the US, called the Dosti programme. And that will be followed by a bunch of gigs, including at South by South West in Texas. Following that I’m planning summer in Europe and the UK,” says the Mumbai lass, recently spotted at NH7.
Production costs at Electronic Dance Music (EDM) festivals like the NH7 Weekender can go up to as high as `8 crore for three days, while a rock concert would be anywhere between `75 lakh to `1 crore. Looking back on the rise of EDM in India, fans and media agree that Sunburn in Goa has played a major role. Especially in bringing down biggies like Axwell, Carl Cox, Paul van Dyk and Armin van Buuren, since the festival started in 2007. After consistently remaining the go-to year ender party till 2013, Sunburn now shares that spotlight with the likes of the Enchanted Valley Carnival (Ambay Valley) and VH1 Supersonic, attracting over a lakh fans to the country’s party capital, Goa. “We are far from capacity right now. We can handle many more festivals and I think it will keep growing until a point four-five years down the line when it gets saturated. Then, only the good ones will survive. Right now we can easily handle 40 festivals, while there are just about 10,” says Sahej Bakshi whose live electronic act, Dualist Inquiry, has fans even in the UK. Rishab Joshi (one half of Lost Stories), who has remixed for Dutch music producer Afrojack, agrees with Bakshi that the NH7 Weekender and Magnetic Fields have joined the must-visit list of music festivals in the country.
But the notion that EDM is only about huge festivals is slowly changing and DJs insist that large-scale festivals are not the only places that fans should be heading to. Smaller venues like Euriska, a Mediterranean bar/restaurant in Pune, are getting the thumbs up by artistes like Praveen Achary and Kohra. “Clubs and venues change, but I think city wise, I have to give points to Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai,” says Vagale. We caught up with a few other DJs to find out what they have to say about where EDM is headed this year.
Best Indian DJ of 2014-15 (MyfavDJ Awards)
? Coming up: This year will see a lot of collaborations with my friend Vipul, also known as SHFT. I have a remix coming up soon, on my label Qilla Records, for Minitech Project and a set of two tracks called Escape and Dark Age that I’ve written along with SHFT using only hardware, analog synths, my own voice and without using any existing samples.
? Are genres getting blurred? Absolutely. The last decade has seen a few 100 genres crop up from all parts of the world and now, finally, artistes and DJs are being identified by their own sound and what they bring to the table, which is quite refreshing.
? After social media: More intimate spaces that combine art / architecture / music / installations / phone apps and interactive visual art to take aesthetic ideas forward.
? Is vinyl back? Vinyl is definitely making a comeback and so is modular synthesis. Suddenly a lot of electronic music companies are taking out synthesisers that are designed the way they were between the 80s and 90s and artistes are using them extensively to make music.
? Hot in 2015: I think deep house and techno are here to stay. I also think the kind of house that Dirtybird has been releasing will get bigger this year.
? Artistes to follow this year: Amongst the Indian crew, I think BLOT!, SHFT, Vinayaka, Oozeundat and Audio Units will have some serious releases soon.
A new-gen DJ, he has taken Indian EDM by storm
? Coming up: My next single is a collaboration with Anushka Manchanda. As Indian producers and DJs, if we keep involving our Indian scene, that’s what’s going to grow further. One of the
reasons I’m working with Anushka is because I want to fuse dance music and pop — the track we’re going to release is going to
be a video on VH1 and will appeal to pop and dance fans.
? About Six Pack Heroes: Six Pack Heroes (his alternate avatar) is never coming back because every kind of music I wanted to play under Six Pack Heroes, I’m going to play under Anish Sood. This is how my music is going to evolve in 2015. The sounds are going to be vocal friendly and the music, a cross between house and pop. As opposed to what I’m doing now that’s very Big Room Progressive House.
One half of EDM duo, Lost Stories, signed to Universal Music
Coming up: I am working on collaborations with international artists. Mostly from the ultra festival mainstage artistes, who are playing in the US and South Africa. Hopefully they will be out early this year. Plus, we have remixed a lot of classic bands which are really famous in India. I am dying to reveal names, but can’t. A particular song by them is like an anthem in India and Lost Stories are the only guys in the world who are remixing that track.
Hot in 2015: There will be a big collaboration between EDM and deep house. Because deep house is becoming the next EDM. If you look at Beatport charts, five of them are hard tracks, whereas the others are deep house tracks, especially since Tiesto is supporting a lot of deep house. Whatever Tiesto creates, becomes a trend.
Must visit festivals: We have EVC, Sunburn and Supersonic. But if you really want to transform your world, there’s Magnetic Fields and NH7.
Sahej Bakshi Solo electronica act, Artist of the Year at Vh1 Sound Nation
Coming up: A few collaborations in the pipeline with Mad Boy Mink. Possibly one with Nucleya.
EDM in India: It’s going from an underground phenomenon to a more mainstream thing.
Must visit festivals: NH7 Weekender, Magnetic Fields, EVC and Sunburn. They are what they say they are. You’ll have great atmosphere, great food, great drinks, great people and great music.
Agenda for 2015: The first thing this year is my upcoming album. I will have to make it, listen to it and then name it. There’s plans to go to the US and Europe and do a few tours over there. Also South East Asia, so I’m going to be out of the country. We’re looking to expand internationally.
Producer/DJ and owner of Juicebox Music records
Coming up: A collaboration with Pune-based Color Ray (aka Shrinivas Sundar), then a remix on my own label, Juicebox Music, for a Finnish artist called Tommi Oskari.
Must visit places for EDM in India: I’d definitely go and check out By The Pier in Mumbai. The event’s organised by Regenerate. They’ve pretty much stripped all of those ‘fancy’ lights and focussed on the music and the vibe created by the ones that come to listen to it.
After social media: People are more drawn to everyday activities that they can relate to instead of ‘promotional content’. Maybe combining the two would get things moving a lot better. You’ll start seeing more folks create ‘a day in a life of’ posts. Whether it’s a blog post, Instagram picture, Vine video or even YouTube episodes.
Is vinyl back? People are taking to streaming more than downloading and owning copies of music they enjoy listening to. Eventually, it’ll come down to hard copies (vinyl) as collectables, but streaming music as an everyday listening format. Eventually, clubs will have super-high speed internet where the DJs can browse music online while playing and stream them at high resolutions.
Hot in 2015: Two styles are going to make a good impact. One would be melodic house and techno, and the other would be drum and bass.
Anoop Menon & Ryan Peppin
— with inputs from Maegan Dobson Sippy