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Nucleya: ‘Want to Stay Away From This Whole EDM Thing’

The popular electronic artist talks to us about his Ganpati visarjan album launch, the controversy that followed it, and why being a regular DJ is boring


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Ridhiin Pancchmatia

Nucleya’s ‘visarjan gig’ kicked up a monster party on the streets of Mumbai. Photo by Ridhiin Pancchmatia.

We don’t know of many electronica artists who “cook up” a dhai-kilo bass-heavy tune while sporting a sari, collaborate with south Indian folk singers or launch their album at a Ganpati visarjan. We don’t know of many electronica artists who’ve sampled the legendary ‘voice of Mahabharata’ Harish Bhimani, or hardcore band Scribe’s eccentric “Tea Parody,” or even their own four-year-old’s voice. “I like stuff which is done interestingly,” says Udyan Sagar a.k.a. Nucleya.

The Delhi-based electronic artist has been gathering a steady fanbase ever since the release of his tappankoothu-meets-trap EP Koocha Monster [2013], but it’s his latest eight-track album — along with all the promotional stunts that accompanied it — that has stirred up a lot more buzz.

Leading up to the release of the album, Nucleya put out video after eccentric video that made a play on various Indian pop-culture motifs. There was overzealous news reporter warning viewers of the “khatarnaak beats” that lay in store, a sari-clad Sagar whipping up his infectious ‘Koocha Fry’ in true cooking-show style, and even a perfectly pitchy jugalbandi that featured Mumbai rock band Ankur & The Ghalat Family, electro-rock artist Dualist Inquiry and electronica whiz Anish Sood. But what does any of this have anything to do with an electronic music album? Nothing much, confesses Nucleya.

“We had no idea what sort of a response we were going to get, but we knew that we didn’t want to do a regular mainstream music video with DJs on the console raising their hands up with lots of lights and all that shit. That’s really boring. We wanted to promote the album in a very different way, and thought of making these slightly irrelevant sort of ads. That was the whole idea, we wanted to do it in a way where we stay away from the whole EDM thing,” explained Sagar.

True to the ‘Indian-ness’ that it channels, Bass Rani’s album launch found a perfect match in the frenzied visarjan procession that Ganeshotsav entails. And though Mumbai rockers Pentagram has already experimented with the Ganpati performance stunt in “Tomorrow’s Decided” back in 2012, Nucleya took things to a whole new level, roping in Mumbai rappers Naezy, Divine, Su Real and bass duo Alo Wala as part of his performance atop a Ganpati truck. “It was like a nonstop party and it was so much fun!” he says.


“We didn’t want to do a regular mainstream music video with DJs on the console raising their hands up, lots of lights and all that shit. That’s really boring.”


 

And although Sagar can tick off ‘playing electronica at a Ganpati visarjan’ from his bucket list [an idea that he reveals he has been sitting on for a few years now] the album launch came with its own bit of criticism, as people began questioning the artist’s political affiliation. Since the procession was organized by the Yuva Sena [the youth wing of Shiv Sena], there was the lingering question of whether Nucleya and his music endorse the kind of politics that the party is known for. Says Sagar, “I am not so informed about it [the political association], honestly. My whole idea right from the beginning was that I wanted to play this music for the audience for free, and I wanted everyone to come and dance and enjoy themselves.”

Album art for Bass Rani by Smriti Choudhary/Pinksoda.

Album art for Bass Rani by Smriti Choudhary/Pinksoda.

On Bass Rani, Sagar has teamed up with a number of artists, including Chennai-based percussion master Sivamani, south Indian folk singer Chinna Ponnu, Hindi rapper Divine and even his own son ‘Guri Gangsta,’ [you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram] to name a few. The album is also rife with quirky voiceovers and samples, whether it’s the hilarious play on Scribe’s “Dr. Salafya and the Tea Parody” from their 2009 EP Confect, or voiceover artist Harish Bhimani’s dramatic opening narrative.

Up next for the electronica architect is the Red Bull Tour Bus Off The Roof gig, which drives into Mumbai on October 3rd, where he might be joined on stage by fiery rapper Delhi Sultanate for older material like “New Delhi Nuttah” off Koocha Monster. Referring to the Twitter conversation sparked by fellow rapper Su Real that made the team-up possible, he says, “I was very excited when he [Delhi Sultanate] said yes, and I’m looking forward to getting him on stage and sing that one song with him. At least he’s agreed on Twitter!”


Nucleya will perform at Red Bull Tour Bus: Off The Roof on October 3rd. Click here for more details.

Check out ‘Bass Rani’ and download the album for free below.

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