EDM Nation: How India Stopped Worrying About the Riff and Fell in Love With the Beat
From Biddu’s disco and Charanjit Singh’s acid house to Sunburn, Supersonic and other music festivals, here’s looking at the eventful history of electronic music in India
Six of the world’s top 10 DJSÂ are in India this December.Â Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike,Â Hardwell, Martin Garrix, TiÃ«sto, David Guetta andÂ Afrojack between them will tour eight Indian cities,Â playing three festivals [Sunburn, VH1 SupersonicÂ and Enchanted Valley Carnival] and combined crowdÂ attendances of 200,000 fans. Thatâ€™s discounting Skrillex,Â ranked no 9, whose four-city tour in October attractedÂ 20,000 concertgoers. And British trio AboveÂ & Beyondâ€™s sold out one-off concert [no. 29] in BengaluruÂ the same month. Or the multi-city arena eventsÂ in November featuring R3hab [no. 21], DJ SnakeÂ [no. 32] Chuckie [no. 77] on the same billing. It wasÂ great timing. Three days earlier, digital music mediaÂ company Spotify named “Lean On,” the track by DJÂ Snake and Major Lazer [no. 54, they performed hereÂ last December] as the worldâ€™s most streamed songÂ [526 million]. The video accompanying the track wasÂ shot – where else? – in India, or Mumbai to be precise.Â Of the coveted worldâ€™s Top 100 DJs list releasedÂ annually by UK-based magazine DJ Mag, at leastÂ 60 have played in India over the past three years.
That’s an astonishing number, by anyÂ stretch of the imagination. ButÂ how did a country with no clubÂ infrastructure, restrictive and arbitrary state legislation againstÂ nightlife, prohibitively high taxation on alcohol, regressive politiciansÂ and few homegrown DJ superstars become infatuated withÂ the sounds of electronic dance music [EDM]?
Think back to 2007. Close on the heels of the Big Chill festivalÂ in Goa, Sunburn was born when MTV VJ and DJ Nikhil ChinapaÂ signed on as Festival Director to partner with Percept CompanyÂ´sÂ Shailendra Singh. Held in Goaâ€™s Candolim Beach in December withÂ the blessing of the Ministry of Tourism in Goa and sponsorship byÂ Smirnoff, the festival booked DJ legends like Carl Cox, Above andÂ Beyond and Axwell alongside Indian DJ royalty like the MIDIvalÂ Punditz, Pearl and the now disbanded Jalebee Cartel.
It was a genius move far ahead of its time. Locating the festivalÂ in the laid-back beach state, which holds a special place in theÂ imagination for both local and international travellers as an IndianÂ Ibiza of sorts made Sunburn aspirational and a travel destination.Â The festival experience along with the then reigning trance genreÂ also catered to Indianâ€™s love for spectacle and drama. It alignedÂ India early on with global trends in music events. As the AmericanÂ music industry logged record losses in music sales across genres inÂ the middle of the Noughties, Daft Punk performed an era-definingÂ audio-visual set at Coachella in 2006. It forced the attentionÂ of other DJs like Deadmau5 to imitate and emulate theÂ French duoâ€™s visual pyrotechnics and shifted the emphasisÂ from music to event sales.
From a modest 2,000 attendees in itsÂ inaugural year, and a second edition thatÂ almost didnâ€™t take place due to the terrorÂ attacks in Mumbai in November 2008,Â Sunburn multiplied eleven-fold in 2009Â with 22,000 festival-goers. It was perfectÂ timing. David Guetta and the BlackÂ Eyed Peas had little clue that when theyÂ changed the sound of pop music withÂ their smash hit â€˜I Gotta Feelingâ€™, thatÂ phrase applied to an overhaul of theÂ worldâ€™s music. As an increasing numberÂ of pop stars like Madonna, for instance,Â turned to electronic music DJs to createÂ beats for their radio hits, American mediaÂ presented DJs as the new rockstars. One of IndianÂ EDMâ€™s few homegrown stars Sartek describesÂ the genre as â€˜International Bollywoodâ€™: the breakdowns,Â melodies, chord progressions make for a genre thatÂ even adults can get into. And Arjun Shah, his manager, who runsÂ Shark & Inc, one of Indiaâ€™s few EDM management agencies, hasÂ seen his 10-year-old cousin ask for Afrojack passes. Parents todayÂ take pre-teens on EDM excursions.
The Internet also enabled Indians to swallow, digest and regurgitateÂ this information faster than ever. Consider the numbers. InÂ 2009, 84 million Indians connected to the Internet with 175 millionÂ smartphone owners, compared with half that number two yearsÂ ago, with only one million smartphone users in 2007. This yearâ€™sÂ figures – 300 million Internet users, 976 million mobile subscribersÂ and 70 million smartphone owners – goes some way to explain whyÂ Indian festivals will clock over 14,00,000 visitors in 2015. It alsoÂ helps that urban Indians are habitually and continuously pluggedÂ in. According to the Manufacturersâ€™ Association for InformationÂ Technology [MAIT] and Indian Market Research Bureau [IMRB]Â report in July this year, Facebook added 28 million new users thisÂ year alone [totalling about 130 million] and more than half of thoseÂ users are under 23: posting, liking, sharing.
EDMâ€™s explosion has also coincided with the growth of theÂ Indian middle class and one of the worldâ€™s youngest populations.Â According to the 2011 census, 140 million [over 38%] of Indiaâ€™sÂ urban population is in the 15 to 35 age bracket, with an almostÂ equal number between the ages of 25 and 49. Both figures are revealing.Â On the one hand, in a country as populous as India, evenÂ a fraction of a fanbase amounts to a whale of a ride. On the other,Â the middle class in India has a 22.6% share of the countryâ€™s wealth,Â with the higher middle-class share about 64% of it.
Thatâ€™s a disposable income between Rs 200,000 to 10,00,000.Â If youâ€™re in college, it means your parents, more than ever in theÂ history of the country, have money to spare. And if youâ€™re a salariedÂ EDM fan, then you can also afford one of Sunburn [Rs 11,200, regular,Â VIP Rs 18,500], VH1 Supersonic [Rs 8,000 regular, Rs 13,000Â VIP] or Enchanted Valley Carnival [6,820 regular, VIP 12,400]Â tickets. Or any of the year-round big-ticket headline events, whichÂ are priced between Rs 2000 Rs 6,000.
From a modest 2,000 attendees in its inaugural year, and a second edition that almost didn’t take place due to the terror attacks in Mumbai in November 2008, Sunburn multiplied eleven-fold in 2009 with 22,000 festival-goers.
It gives the state of EDM in India a decidedly middle-classÂ slant. And IndiaÂ´s electronic music scene has followedÂ a long and circuitous route to arrive at this explosion.Â Several of the countryÂ´s landmark events took place in the Eighties.Â One of the countryâ€™s best-kept secrets is that pioneering DusseldorfÂ artists Kraftwerk played two gigs in Mumbai in SeptemberÂ 1981 as part of their â€˜Computer Worldâ€™ tour. Percussionist WolfgangÂ FlÃ¼r recounts in his autobiography I Was A RobotÂ that the foursome found bootleg editions of Kraftwerkâ€™sÂ album in a cassette shop, and, undeterredÂ by the â€œdamned rainâ€, performed two well-attendedÂ shows at Shanmukhananda Hall inÂ Matunga â€œobserved by many turbaned Indians…Â and an audience comprised mostlyÂ of men…â€. Among the concert-goersÂ were Bollywood music producers and aÂ nine-year-old Ashim Ahluwalia, who cofoundedÂ Bhavishyavani Future Soundz,Â Indiaâ€™s first electronic music collective inÂ the Nineties [more on them later].Â That Hindi film arrangers, like KersiÂ Lord, for instance were at the KraftwerkÂ gig should come as no surprise. BollywoodÂ producers like RD Burman had begunÂ dabbling with electronic music gear as early asÂ 1977: â€œDhanno Ki Aankhon Meinâ€ [Kitaab], theÂ first Hindi film song that featured flanger machineÂ effects, which Burman picked up on a visit toÂ America, made him the subject of much ridicule among hisÂ peers. It did little to deter him. Four years later, he composed theÂ Kraftwerk-esque synth-pop banger, â€œDil Lena Khel Hai Dildar Kaâ€™â€Â in Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai.
Bollywood soundtracks became a giant music lab and the bestÂ experiments were engendered by disco. Giorgio Moroder and DonnaÂ Summerâ€™s futuristic arpeggiated classic, â€œI Feel Loveâ€, in particular,Â was a key influence. Burman fashioned his own ode to the twosomeÂ with â€œPyaar Karnewaleâ€ in ShaanÂ . While Indian-BritishÂ producer Biddu [Appaiah] struck up an almost identical partnershipÂ with Pakistani teenage singing sensation Nazia Hassan. TheÂ duo had already scored a hit with â€œAap Jaisa Koiâ€ for the film Qurbaani,Â also in 1980. And â€œDisco Deewaneâ€, their next non-BollywoodÂ album released a year later, went on to become Asiaâ€™s bestsellingÂ pop album. In fact, their 1982 hit single â€œBoom Boomâ€ had aÂ straight rip of the Moroder bassline, accompanying Hassanâ€™s vocals.
In stark contrast to Bidduâ€™s subtle approach to disco, were BappiÂ Lahiriâ€™s full throttle tunes, all as flamboyant as his personality.Â Lahiri cut plenty of disco bangers throughout the Eighties – checkÂ out his hat tip to â€œI Feel Loveâ€ on â€œRamba Ho Ho Hoâ€ in ArmaanÂ . He continued in this vein with the Amitabh Bachchan starrerÂ â€œRaat Bakiâ€ [Namak Halaal, 1982], â€œDisco Stationâ€ [Haathkadi,Â 1982], â€œYaar Bina Chain Kahan Reâ€ [Saheb, 1985] and â€œZooÂ Zoo Zooby Zoobyâ€ [Dance, Dance, 1987] and â€œJhoom Jhoomâ€ inÂ Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki . The latter takes place insideÂ Studio 84, named after discoâ€™s most famous club Studio 54 in NewÂ York in the Seventies. The apex of his achievement, however, isÂ 1982â€™s â€œDisco Dancerâ€, which is a nostalgia trip not just for IndiansÂ but for kids growing up across the former Soviet Union.
Lahiriâ€™s experiments with synthesisers influenced oneÂ Charanjit Singh, his contemporary in Bollywood. The producerÂ got his hands on a Roland Jupiter-8 and 303 synthesiser as wellÂ as Rolandâ€™s 808 drum machine on a trip to Singapore in 1982.Â On his return, he locked himself in at the HMV studios in ColabaÂ recording an album over four days. He re-created the sounds ofÂ the flute, santoor, veena, been and shehnai on the synthesizer.Â And released the seminal Synthesising: TenÂ Ragas to a Disco Beat, the worldâ€™s first acidÂ house record, a year after Detroit techno legendsÂ Cybotron put out â€œAlleys of Your Mindâ€Â and a full five years before Chicago artistsÂ Phuture released â€œAcid Tracks.â€
Mumbaiâ€™s jet-set crowd took it on themselvesÂ to bring disco to the cityâ€™s dance-floors.Â The first time recorded music replaced liveÂ music. Members-only clubs like Studio 29Â in Bombay International Hotel [now MarineÂ Plaza], Blow Up at the Taj, Cellar atÂ the Oberoi and RGs [Ravi Ghaiâ€™s] at NatrajÂ Hotel [now Intercontinental] mushroomedÂ and prospered. Itâ€™s also when the late ChaitÂ Karmakar [he died in a car accident inÂ 2003], widely regarded as one of Indiaâ€™s first DJs, began playing for private shows acrossÂ the city in 1981 as a 16-year-old. Two yearsÂ later, Karmakar struck up a partnership withÂ Sanjay Chhabria, almost exclusively runningÂ all the fashion shows in Bombay. KarmakarÂ also held residencies at clubs like Cavern atÂ Sea Rock Hotel in Bandra and later, at StudioÂ 29.
Meanwhile, 600 kms to the south in Goa,Â French DJs Laurent and Fred Disko, joinedÂ by San Francisco native Goa Gil began toÂ throw parties with post-punk and electronic body music. The DJâ€™s edits for traveling andÂ returning hippie revelers to the beach grewÂ in number each year. The music began to includeÂ trippy psychedelic mandalas and ethereal ethnic samplesÂ [like flutes, sitars, percussive instruments] woven in with dark,Â sinister vocal exhortations. It was built on the industrial, new beatÂ and high-energy music Germany enjoyed before techno. It wasÂ named Goa trance. But the genre really took off after restrictionsÂ preventing Israelis from entering India were lifted in 1988. ItÂ created a diaspora of backpackers who reveled in an open-air danceÂ scene. The gigs included plenty of hash, psychedelic drugs andÂ fluorescent cultural artefacts.
In the early Nineties, Goa trance took off in Bombay. DJs likeÂ Ranjeev Mulchandani were part of an original party crew thatÂ hired film studios and bungalows in Madh island in Malad for gigs.Â Between â€™92-â€™94, they made flyers with neatly designed names likeÂ Stark Raving Madness, Da Funktion and Jagged Edge, in the fledglingÂ days of DTP. The Goa trance cast also featured Asad ZaidiÂ and DJ Whosane! [Hussain Babai]. Without any venues to gig in,Â Zaidi started out in the â€™90s throwing outdoor parties for friendsÂ in Worli. In â€™94, he set up Club Paradiso in Goa. Until 2000 when itÂ shuttered, almost every international psy trance artist of repute,Â from Goa Gill to Infected Mushroom DJed there before makingÂ the big time. In Mumbai, Zaidiâ€™s sound business and DJ collective,Â Audio File, set up with friend and business partner Babai, was asÂ successful. Besides gigs at venues like Sheetal Again, Go BananasÂ and Wild Orchid, they organised various private parties, which ensuredÂ both DJs have a loyal fan following even today.
Over in the capital, musicians Gaurav RainaÂ and Tapan Raj, friends since primaryÂ school, set up the MIDIval Punditz inÂ 1996. And two years later, they organised the first Cyber Mehfil,Â at a tiny venue called Scribbles in South Extension, where theyÂ DJed drum & bass, breaks and big beat, genres that had no roomÂ to breathe in Delhi. The duo also connected with Talvin Singh,Â a second generation British Asian producerÂ and tabla player. Singh had been organisingÂ his own club nights called Anokha sinceÂ 1995, at East Londonâ€™s Blue Note club, withÂ promoter Sweety Kapoor. The punk-meets-tablaÂ ethic of these parties, with a clutch ofÂ wildly talented producers like State of BengalÂ [Sam Zaman], Karsh Kale and OsmaniÂ Soundz [Shohid Jolil], was hailed by theÂ media as the Asian Underground. And Singhâ€™s 1997 compilation, Anokha [Sounds of the Asian Underground] took these beats toÂ Indians across the globe.
Two years later, Singh won the prestigiousÂ Mercury Music Prize for his album OK. AndÂ he invited the MIDIval Punditz to London forÂ an Anokha night at Fabric, one of the worldâ€™sÂ premier nightclubs. Raina and Raj also metÂ up other musicians and DJs there, includingÂ Karsh Kale, who became their friend andÂ long-term collaborator. The Punditz tookÂ this sound back to India and along with theirÂ Cyber Mehfil parties in Delhi, RazzberryÂ Rhinoceros in Mumbai, one of the largestÂ clubs in the suburbs in the Nineties, hosted aÂ slew of Asian Underground artists.
Similarly inspired by the British wave ofÂ underground music, five friends set up BhavishyavaniÂ Future Soundz in Mumbai. AshimÂ Ahluwalia [who had spent some time inÂ America and was at the Kraftwerk concertÂ in â€™81], his cousin Jatin Vidyarthi [returningÂ from Australia] and Mukul Deora, who was fresh off the boat fromÂ an education in London, along with their friends Tejas MangeshkarÂ and Kurnal Rawat. They shared similar music tastes and organisedÂ parties at some of the cityâ€™s dodgiest venues, striking dealsÂ with the owners to get rid of their regular clientele for one-off gigs.Â Bhavishyavaniâ€™s legendary debauched nights are still the stuff ofÂ legend, their gigs accompanied by iconic artwork and flyers, includingÂ an ever present, fortune-telling mascot of a robot.
The decade that saw the liberalization of the Indian economyÂ also welcomed the first wave of immensely talented local DJs. TheyÂ laid the foundations of the scene with their residencies at key clubsÂ across the country. Ivan Nilkon in Bangalore at Time & Again andÂ The Club, Rummy Sharma in Delhi at the Hyatt Internationalâ€™s clubÂ Oasis, Kris Correya in Mumbai at J49 [where many of the cityâ€™sÂ DJs like Ruskin Master, Mikhail Dâ€™souza and Steve Dias cut theirÂ teeth], DJ Murthy in Hyderabad at Passport and Sparks and SanjayÂ Dutta in Kolkata at Tajâ€™s IncognitoÂ and The Parkâ€™s Someplace Else, thrivedÂ inspite of the club scene being dominatedÂ by Bollywood music and Indi-pop.
But 1998 marked a turning pointÂ for DJs. That year, the first Disco MixingÂ Championship [DMC] to test theÂ technical proficiency of DJs on turntablesÂ was organized in India. A year later,Â Times Music logged on as a co-sponsorÂ and took it over in 2000s. They renamedÂ the event the Times War of the DJs, rewardingÂ the winner with recording contracts andÂ music videos. For the first time in the history ofÂ the scene, the DJ was not simply an anonymous, lonelyÂ figure behind a console, but the centre of attention. DJing wasÂ being written about and backed by the countryâ€™s leading newspaper.Â It granted the DJ legitimacy and in many ways made it [howeverÂ false the reality] a genuine career option for anyone willingÂ to devote ears to it.
The year 1998 marked a turning point for DJs. That year, the first disco mixing championship was organized in India. A year later, Times music logged on as a co-sponsor and renamed the event the Times War of the DJs.
To mirror this development, in 1999, Ketan Kadam and hisÂ business partner, DJ Vishal Shetty, set up Fire and Ice. It wasÂ Mumbaiâ€™s first super club, laying down the format that most nightspotsÂ in the city still follow. They introduced a weekly calendar withÂ dedicated Tuesday nights for electronic music, Wednesday nightsÂ for hip hop and weekends for their famous Bollywood ChandniÂ Bar nights. It was the first club to open inÂ a mill space [a controversial decision thatÂ disgusted some potential clients]. ManyÂ other brands like Mikanos and VelocityÂ tried to recreate the formula, but few wereÂ able to emulate its success.
While the world celebrated victoryÂ over the Y2K bug at the turn of the millennium,Â Indiaâ€™s electronic music scene feltÂ burdened under the weight of its own expectation.Â Few other clubs across the country,Â took Fire n Iceâ€™s lead to open similarly influentialÂ spaces. It proved not only that the clubÂ was ahead of its time, but also that the audience andÂ its investors werenâ€™t ready yet. Goa trance DJs who tookÂ the open air vibe into clubs found themselves on the wrong end ofÂ the law. Winners of the Times War of the DJs in the â€˜00s were tiedÂ down by knotty contracts and were expected to deliver remixes ofÂ popular Bollywood tracks on tight deadlines. Most DJs across theÂ country mined Bollywood hits from the past, isolating the vocalsÂ to loop over dance tracks by artists like Erasure and 2 Unlimited.Â Ironically, those commercial remixes opened Mumbaiâ€™s ears toÂ more-esoteric house music beats. Bollywood remixes were oftenÂ directly lifted from international house music hits, so even clubbersÂ unfamiliar with electronic music had, at some point, groovedÂ to the genreÂ´s beats. This familiarised audiences with the four-to-the-floor phenomena even while they lived happy underÂ the illusion of â€˜Bollywood musicâ€™. When the remix industryÂ became saturated with Bollywood composer HimeshÂ Reshammiyaâ€™s tunes [he did 14 films in 2005, followingÂ it up with 12 more in 2006], clubbers went looking forÂ a new sound.
And when they did, there were options like never before.Â The Bhavishyavani Future Soundz crew resurrectedÂ in 2004 when Frenchmen Mathieu Josso [M.Mat],Â Charles Nuez [Char Lee] and Cyril Vincent-MichaudÂ [Loopkin] were inducted into its ranks. The result wasÂ a Bacardi Blast with French house legend Laurent GarnierÂ at Kamala Mills. And a renewed energy to revitaliseÂ the scene with regular gigs. In Delhi, Arjun VagaleÂ who had been doubling up as a promoter to organise gigsÂ at venues like No Escape and Six Month Storey, teamedÂ up with Ash Roy, Ashwin Mani Sharma and G. Arjun toÂ form Jalebee Cartel, Indiaâ€™s first live four-to-the-floorÂ electronic music act.
By the middle of the decade, venues like Zenzi withÂ DJ Kris Correya as a curator and Elevate in Delhi reignitedÂ the belief that spaces that were for the scene, by theÂ scene and of the scene could survive and thrive. MultiformatÂ venues like the revolutionary Blue Frog in LowerÂ Parel, Grand Hyattâ€™s China House in Santacruz, and DragonflyÂ in Nariman Point all opened up in 2007, shutting their doors toÂ Bollywood music. Similarly, forward-thinking clubs like The LivingÂ Room Cafe in Delhi, Bacchus in Bangalore, High Spirits in Pune,Â Roxy in Kolkata and Blend in Chennai.
Another pivotal moment for the underground scene can beÂ traced back to 2008. The Goethe-Institut in Delhi invited IndianÂ artists like like techno collective Jalebee Cartel, electro-pop sensationÂ Shaaâ€™ir & Func and Teddy Boy Kill to play in Germany. AndÂ in December 2009, over 30 influential German and European promoters,Â artists, label heads, venue owners congregated in DelhiÂ for the Global Groove festival. It was the first of its kind, European-Â style electronic music conference in India, with the sole aim ofÂ fostering exchange and collaborations between Indian and internationalÂ partners.
The same year Jalebee Cartel embarked on theirÂ ONEPOINTNOTHING tour, a landmarkÂ event in Indiaâ€™s clubbing history. A four-pieceÂ live electronic music act gigging in 12 cities, including tier two outpostsÂ like Cochin, supported by radio, print and TV was simplyÂ unheard of since the Times War of the DJs. The concept of undergroundÂ artists touring, associating with lifestyle brands and sponsorsÂ was unimaginable. It paved the way for other artists to rideÂ that wave of success.
But the holy trinity of the EDM scene as we know it today cameÂ together at a tiny, one-off club night in 2003 at Rock Bottom inÂ Bombay. DJ couple Pearl and Nikhil Chinapa with their friend HermitÂ Sethi, set up Submerge as an alternative to what they saw asÂ the same old music and the same tired experience. The concept ofÂ a one-off night grew into a firm, with networks in tier I and tier IIÂ cities like Indore, Jaipur and Ahmedabad, multiple events organisedÂ every month, and designated tasks for employees like artistÂ management, brand association and licensing, and liaising withÂ international DJs.
Coupled with the influence of Sunburn from 2007, Itâ€™s a formatÂ that allowed Chinapa, Pearl and Sethi to bring some much-neededÂ organisation to the scene. It allowed marketing heads of alcoholÂ companies to wise up, as they found the best route to surrogate advertisingÂ in the country by organising music festivals. And promotersÂ like Sohail Arora [Krunk] and Dev Bhatia alongside Arjun VagaleÂ [UnMute], Munbir and Sarah Chawla [Vital Agency] and OnlyÂ Much Louder [The Syndicate] set up booking agencies to structureÂ the way artists were presented to clubs. And the more undergroundÂ genres of EDM have flourished just as wildly with festivalsÂ like Magnetic Fields, Bass Camp, Eden and Johnnie Walker – TheÂ Journey springing up across the country.
A decade after Submerge and six years after their associationÂ with Percept and Shailendra Singh, and following an acrimoniousÂ split, Chinapa tied-up with LIVE Viacom 18 to set up VH1 SupersonicÂ in 2013. It was an alternative and competitor to Sunburn thatÂ proved that the Indian EDM scene had more than just one patron.Â And when Twisted Entertainment, a fresh event management companyÂ launched Enchanted Valley Carnival, a three-day festival inÂ the plush Aamby Valley township between Mumbai and Pune, Indiaâ€™sÂ EDM fans found themselves spoilt for choice.
Bollywood has been quick to follow the lead. LIVEÂ Viacom18 also partnered Cineyug Entertainment to create the MTVÂ Bollyland in 2013, following the same multi-city large-scale eventÂ format of EDM, pairing singers and performers with local BollywoodÂ DJs. At this yearÂ´s edition, young Bollywood singers likeÂ Armaan Malik, Nakash Aziz and Siddharth Mahadevan [son ofÂ the renowned Shankar Mahadevan] all confessed their love forÂ the genre and saw much room for its growth in films. It shows howÂ much EDMâ€™s gone full circle: from leading the charge of experimentationÂ in the â€™80s by introducing the sounds of disco to andÂ through Bollywood to bluntly copy-pasting the EDM formula onÂ Hindi film tunes today. And although it led to much outrage andÂ gnashing of teeth among DJs in the scene, when DJ Mag releasedÂ its 2015 list of top 100 DJs, Indiaâ€™s first-ever entry into that muchcriticisedÂ but commercial industry defining list, debuting at no 59,Â was Mumbaiâ€™s BollyEDM DJ Chetas.
Thankfully, India wonâ€™t have to wait too much longer for aÂ legitimate representative into the DJ Mag list. In the past six years,Â artists like Delhiâ€™s Sartek [Sarthack Sardana, whose new trackÂ â€œDonâ€™t Need Loveâ€ signed on to Hardwellâ€™s Revealed RecordingsÂ this month], Goaâ€™s Joshi [Rishabh Joshi who bagged a deal withÂ Armin van Burrenâ€™s Armada Music label], Mumbaiâ€™s Lost StoriesÂ [Prayag Mehta and Rishabh Joshi whose single â€œFalse Promisesâ€Â was signed on to TiÃ«stoâ€™s Black Hole Recordings], (S)haan and AnishÂ Sood have all been doubled up as producer-DJs.
And not surprisingly, these 20-somethings have betweenÂ them racked up 500,000 Facebook fans, besidesÂ opening and closing slots at multiple Sunburn arenaÂ event as well as festival slots at VH1 Supersonic. (S)haan,Â son of Sunburn founder Shailendra Singh, was the firstÂ Indian DJ to perform at Belgiumâ€™s Tomorrowland last year. WhileÂ Lost Stories made sure that the countryâ€™s showing in Boom wasnâ€™tÂ a one-off with their appearance this year. Perhaps Indiaâ€™s EDMÂ moment of the new millennium belongs to New Delhi-based EDMÂ artist Nucleya, who launched his Bass Rani album this September,Â atop a speaker-laden truck belting out his signature Indian streetÂ sounds and pop-culture references with slabs of raw bass, leadingÂ a Ganpati procession to Chowpatty, followed by thousands ofÂ Mumbaikars, hinting to a future crafted by the Pied Piper of EDM.