With over 150 artistes on the bill, this four-day dance music extravaganza takes entertainment to a new peak
For the past ten years, there’s been one permanent fixture on every EDM aficionado’s calendar: Sunburn. In fact, Goa in December has always been synonymous with the camping festival. To commemorate their 10th anniversarry, the gala is heading to a new venue—atop a scenic 90-acre hill overlooking the city of Pune. So what’s being done to preserve the Sunburn legacy? “This is the first time we are introducing six headliners across genres, and extending dates from December 28 – 31 to cover the New Year’s Eve,” says Sunburn CEO Karan Singh. We spoke with a few headliners to find out more.
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In a career spanning two decades and some, Armin Van Buuren has claimed the title of world’s number one DJ five times. Having just completed an unprecedented 795 weekly episodes of his two-hour radio show A State of Trance, the Dutch superstar talks to us about the essence of DJing, Sunburn 2016 and more.
On humble beginnings
I come from the days where the DJ was just a little bit higher than the bartender. The club where I started working—it was twice as big as a hotel room. In fact, once I was actually the bartender and the DJ at the same time.
The ingredients for a great set
It’s the connection to the audience, the crowd, the mixing of your songs, the song selection, and the different emotional peaks and highs and lows. And you need to be there, conducting it.
The way forward for electronic music
I think mixing and merging of styles is the key to the future. For me, most important is that a sound keeps developing. That’s my criticism towards some of the trance tracks out there; they sound exactly like they did 10 years ago!
What to expect at Sunburn 2016?
Well, you wouldn’t want me to spoil the surprise beforehand, right? Let’s just say, you’re in for a treat at Pune this year.
Ajja Leu belongs to a rare legion of musical heavyweights. This prolific Swiss DJ—whose family comprises of the world’s most sought-after tattoo artistes—witnessed the birth of modern electronic music firsthand in Goa during the peak of the hippie movement. Now, as the label manager for Peak Records, he’s a leading light in the psytrance scene. Read on.
On your psychedelic trance label
Peak Records is a project I started in 2003, with my wife Tanina Munchkina and our friends, Gaspard and Master Margherita. Our main intention was, and still is, to create a platform to release quality music and give young aspiring artists a chance to be heard internationally.
What keeps you going after so many decades?
I grew up in a tattoo studio with music blaring all the time. Though I’m not tattooing much nowadays, it’s very hard for me to imagine a life without music, tattoos and graphics in it.
I prefer working with artists who make music that they enjoy, without consciously deciding to follow current trends and accepted formats.
Expectations from Sunburn 2016
This nation has some of the most aware dancefloors that I have encountered. There’s a wonderful mix of travellers and locals that have been listening to electronic music for years, and they aren’t easily impressed.
Kashmiri-American Niles Hollowell-Dhar, popularly known by his moniker KSHMR—burst onto the scene in 2014. Now, riding on the success of his hard-hitting orchestral EDM chart toppers like Megalodon, Wildcard and Karate, the emerging superstar is headlining the Sunburn Festival 2016 with a special NYE set.
Indian influences in your music
I visited India many times while growing up, to see family in various states.
Sadly, I’ve never been to Kashmir, though my grandfather would tell me stories . India has been hugely inspirational—
the culture is rich with music and story-telling, a lot of which the rest of the world has yet to experience.
Collaborating with Indian artistes
I have serious interest in working on some Bollywood soundtracks. The talks have begun and we’ll see how they develop.
Special Sunburn 2016 live set
My show will be a marriage of animated storytelling and music. Something very spectacular I’ve crafted specially for Sunburn 2016.
On creating the Sunburn 2016 anthem
I wanted to blend the spirit and emotion of India, while bringing production to the table that people from all over the world could feel. I think the best “celebration” music has moments of depth and we aimed for that with Mandala.
Text: Anoop Menon