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Anil Chawla’s New Direction

The Chennai-based producer discusses his first solo compilation, which releases this month

Ambika Muttoo Nov 08, 2013
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Anil Chawla's new release covers everything from deep house to acid house.

Anil Chawla’s new release covers everything from deep house to acid house.

It’s hard to imagine that Anil Chawla, now based in Chennai, has only lived in India for three years. In that short timeframe, he’s built a solid reputation for himself by being a DJ and producer by being consistently brilliant. The last we heard him, in Bengaluru, Chawla decimated a dance floor with a mix of techno and acid techno, playing unexpected vintage gems like “Professional Widow” by American electro house producer Armand Van Helden.

His releases have done their bit to seal his position. His last few have appeared on venerated labels such as Nic and Mark Fancuilli’s Saved Records, Christian Smith’s Tronic, Kaiserdisco’s KD Music and Global Underground. So, when we heard that Chawla was ready to release a new two-CD compilation, the expectations were understandably high.

Those expectations are in no way dashed. This new offering is Chawla’s first solo compilation, titled Directions. He shared compilation credits with Canadian techno producer Dale Anderson, back in 2009, where they mixed the third CD on a Global Underground Mix titled GU: Mixed 4. CD 2 of Directions comprises 10 of his tracks. CD 1 compresses those tracks into a one-hour continuous mix (much like a set Chawla would play at a club) with two extra tracks thrown in; “Pig in a Blanket” which will be out on Alleanza and “Cradle Snatch,” which just released on KD Music. Says Chawla, “With the mixed version, I hope that I’ve been able to put together some kind of journey. The mix starts off quite deep and house-y, and works its way into tech house and techno as it progresses. I’ve tried to make it a representation of maybe a four-hour set that I would play. Except with this, it’s all compressed into a one-hour mix.” There’s also a reason why the tracks are available separately on the second CD as well. “I wanted this to be a compilation for DJs too, and CD 2 provides all full length tracks. I guess this is something that stuck from me growing up buying music as a DJ, trying to find CD compilations that were unmixed, so I could use the tracks in my DJ sets,”
he explains.

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He’s right, because every track is something we’d be happy to listen to on a dance floor, as well as plug into on our iPods. There are some definite favourites here. “Freak Inn,” created two years ago, has popped into Chawla’s sets to immense success. It’s a driving house-influenced track and the vocal touches feel like a nod to classic, funk-house. “Three” is that perfect tune to uplift a dance floor when a DJ feels the need to take it to the next level. The melody loops over a catchy tech-house base, and it’s solid in its pacing and groovy rhythm. “Silver Digger” was a standard on that mastermind of global techno, Richie Hawtin’s playlist, and we can see why, as it’s an essential big techno mainstay. “Everything” by Chawla and Arjun Vagale, released on Tronic, is a dubby techno tune that packs a punch.

Directions covers everything from deep house grooves to essential techno and acid house. Considering Chawla’s discography is packed with tunes, it must have been a task to choose what would go in the mix. “At first, I just threw everything into the pot. Looked at every track I’d made over the past.  I got a little nostalgic, and it bought back some memories and the journey through my career, which I look back on fondly,” Chawla says of the selection process. “Then it boiled to down to the simple question of “Would I play this today?” Because if it’s not a track that I’d play today then I don’t think it would be a fair representation of where I’m at right now, and that’s what I wanted to put across with this CD.”

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Anil Chawla performs at Euriska, Pune on November 8th, 9pm onwards. Event details here.

This article appeared in the November 2013 issue of ROLLING STONE India.

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