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Nikhil Chinapa opens up about Submerge’s early days, the EDM scene in the country, DJs to look out for and more

He’s one of my oldest buddies from radio days back in the late-1990s. Nikhil Chinapa (pictured) is a master of all formats. No introductions as we all know, he’s a phenomenal RJ, a rock star VJ and a crowd-pulling DJ. His music festival Submerge has people from all over the country flocking to it. Here’s our chat!

You and Submerge have been the prime promoters of EDM. Tell us about the journey.
My wife Pearl (I was her boyfriend back then), our dearest friend Hermit and I started Submerge as an alternative to the mainstream scene back in 2003. We began in a basement club in Mumbai, throwing parties on Thursday nights for similar music deviants. These parties grew over the years into a nationwide movement for electronic music across multiple cities, attracting scores of DJs and thousands of fans.

We then started to bring all these people together in Goa held at a shack called Zanzibar. This was in 2004. What started as a small scene with a few DJs and friends grew to a free festival on the beach with 15,000 people, spanning five days and dozens of DJs. It was called the Submerge Beach Sessions and it became the blueprint for all the festivals I worked on after that.

How popular has EDM become in India?
EDM is immensely popular right now and we’re also seeing tremendous growth in alternative sub-genres of the sound like Techno, Bass and Future House. Now there’s a slow re-emergence of trance that is coming back, though its roots are in melodic techno. I also see a steady growth in grime and trap—two other sub-genres that are slower tempo variants of electronic music.

Tell us about EDM artistes from India.
On the mainstream side of things there are Lost Stories and Kerano. In Techno, there is Ash Roy and Arjun Vagale. Recently, Tuhin Mehta and Browncoat have released a few really nice tunes. Kohra and Blot have been strong influences in the scene too. In bass, Nucleya has been busy creating his own
sub-genre in the scene as well. It’ll be very interesting to see how that trajectory develops as his sound combines local flavour with high energy sounds from the electronic music landscape.

See you next week!

— Niladri @radiowave
talkingradio@gmail.com.
(The writer’s views expressed here are entirely in his personal capacity.)

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