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Bill Brewster on being a DJ and his long journey to the top

 

British DJ Bill Brewster is a jack of all trades and a master of a few as well. When he is not at the turntables playing his signature deep and tough house tunes, he is a also a writer. He has written Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, and more recently, The Record Players. We catch up with him as he hits up Bengaluru for a gig.

You worked in various other fields before this. How did you end up here?

Have you got long? I was originally a chef. Worked in London and Geneva. Got disillusioned. Came back to the UK and formed a post-punk band. Got a record deal, made a couple of singles, got played by English DJ John Peel, band split up. I started doing tapes for friends and girlfriends and occasionally playing parties, because I was known to have quite a decent record collection. Then, that just gradually extended from hobby to career. It’s 30 years since I first started DJing.

I’d always wanted to write, but never had a chance. I saw an ad in 1987 for a little football fanzine advertising for “a slave” and applied for the job and got it (it was unpaid, there probably wasn’t a lot of competition). The magazine, called When Saturday Comes, became one of the most influential football magazines in the UK and helped transform football’s written word and I was lucky enough to become one of its editors. From there, I was offered freelance work with Mixmag, who I’ve now been writing for since 1990. And from there, came everything else. There, I’ve managed to condense it into two paragraphs.

Tell us a little bit about your writing.

I’m currently building a new personal website after spending the last 18 years running (the website) DJhistory.com. So I’m hoping to launch that early next year and there will be loads of stuff going online that people have never seen before. I’m also working on a new idea for a book, but I don’t want to talk about it yet, in case I jinx it.

What are you expecting from India?

I’ll be honest, I don’t know what to expect from Indian music. I know very little about the modern scene. I’ve been collecting records by RD Burman, Usha Uthup, Bappi Lahiri and others for the last 20 years, but I’ve come here to learn something about modern electronic music and I’m hoping to meet some of the current legends and players and interview them. As for the country itself, what I’m expecting is a little madness, some heat, some amazing food and, above all, friendliness, because that’s my experience among my many friends of Indian and Pakistani origin in the UK.

Entry free. Tonight.
9 pm. At Koramangala Social. Details: 40515253

— Anagha M

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