The Hot List 2016: Nucleya (Music Producer/DJ)
From visarjan raves to stadium concerts, this guy’s headlining game is at an all-time high
Udyan Sagar has been away from home for over 10 days and it will take another week or so for the gigs and shoots to wrap up. “Life has changed so much! I don’t even get to see my wife and son as often as I’d like to,” says the electronic music producer/DJ. Thank god Bollywood stars aren’t the only artists that can claim a life of sleep deprivation, selfie requests and super success. “I never thought it would be like this—life went into the fifth gear overnight.”
Sagar can’t put his finger on exactly when things started getting out of control. He does remember that time in 2013 when his manager asked him to play a multi-artist set at Bacardi NH7 Weekender’s electronic stage. A rising solo performer back then, he was most happy to. Onstage at the gig, no sooner had he teased the crowd with a few tunes (remember the infectious “Akkad Bakkad”?) than over 4,000 people starting jostling their way into the area that could accommodate only half as many. The unsuspecting on-ground staff had to shut the entry gates even as hundreds of spill-over fans stood outside the stage waiting as eagerly as those inside for Nucleya to drop the bass. He says, “When the headlining act came on stage after my set, most of the crowd had left!”
The time was ripe for team Nucleya to aim higher. “Tej (Brar, manager) and Vijay (Nair, co-founder of his management agency Only Much Louder) told me, ‘This is the time to play a headlining set’. By that, I thought they meant headlining the electronic stage. But who knew they’d give me the top slot at the main stage next year, which can fill up almost 7,000 people!” gushes Sagar.
Nucleya today is hailed as the poster boy of Indian electronic music, EDM if you will —a tag Sagar says “sucks because my music isn’t too EDM, it’s more Indian folk with electronic influences.” Guess he’ll just have to live with that because it seems there isn’t anybody else on the circuit that can represent the scene better. Or has the kind—and range—of feats he’s had. Last year, while artists continued to lament the lack of music venues to play gigs at, Nucleya showed how it’s done, by launching his first album Bass Rani at a Ganpati visarjan procession in Mumbai. This year, he raised the stakes by releasing his second offering Raja Baja in a stadium, among a sea of hysterical heads. Of course it helps that he has an astute management behind him. “Before I signed to OML, there were other people who managed me but no one could figure out how to market this music,” says Sagar.
If Nucleya’s exponential celebrity graph is anything to go by, his team’s music marketing plan has been crack. Apart from headlining slots, the coming months have in store some film projects, a collaborative track with folk singer/playback artist Papon for the music show The Dewarists and an international tour. The overwhelming recognition for his work still surprises him, though. “Everything happened so fast that it hasn’t sunk in yet. But you know, there are so many excellent people making music in India right now; it’s just that I am in the spotlight. And honestly, I am not someone who loves to be in the spotlight… I just want to make music that satisfies me.” As far as skeptics are concerned, Sagar couldn’t care less about what they make of him or his music. “I’m done bothering about what people think.”
Photo: Irina Usova
Styling: Nisharika Singh