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Riding the Dub Wave

DJ Nasha announces his return with chart-topping track

Rolling Stone IN Mar 10, 2010

You may remember him from his remix of of ”˜Jawani Janeman’ featuring Bollywood bombshell Malaika Arora, or maybe for his track ”˜Flute Fantasy’ on Buddha Bar 7. But DJ Nasha, who has been dormant on the electronica scene for a while, is marking his return in style. His remix of the Jalabee Cartel track ”˜Mirrors’ made an explosive entry into the imperviable Beatport charts, landing itself a place within the top 10 under a new electro avatar, Breed. This also makes him the first Indian DJ to crack the Beatport Top 10.

DJ Nasha has played and produced music under various sobriquets. “Breed happened while I was doing a lot of desi/Bollywood music and I wanted to break away from that. I wanted to do a lot of dupstep, dancehall, glitch et al. In India there is hardly any scene for that.” He’s belligerent about the fact that when he first introduced India to the sounds of dubstep three years ago he was left with a baffled audience. Apparently even electro-hub Zenzi in Mumbai lacked the infrastructure to handle his bass heavy, sub-blasting dupstep tracks a few years ago.

Even as he makes it to the Beatport Top 10, Nasha has been quietly adding firsts to his name. He’s a two-time World DMC Champion, he’s the first Indian DJ to be featured on the popular Buddha Bar series, the first Indian DJ to play at the Burning Man Festival in the US and he’s also the proprietor of the country’s first DJ academy. His DMC Championship win got him a Times Music deal which led him to the dubious world of Bollywood remixes. Here is where he was typecast amongst the cadre of remix rajas. When quizzed about his Bollywood avatar he promptly points out the lack of moolah in spinning underground sounds.  “Every club wants an A-class electronic act but nobody is ready to pay. Hence many DJs are pushed to earn their buck through mass-friendly, commercial Bollywood gigs. In this age clubs are taking advantage of DJs.”

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But those Bollywood earnings were eventually what let him pursue his other dreams. “That is how I started my travel. I decided to flush that money into travelling twice a year to the UK and US. In the end I started playing gigs at international venues. ”His friends, peers and fellow artists (Shiva Sound System, to be specific) helped him lay a stepping stone in the international circuit. While travelling and discovering novel sounds he landed up as a resident DJ in one a club in NY. “New York was a life changing experience for me. When for the first time I saw Freqnasty play and drop some awesome, heavy dubstep I was like, ”˜Wow!’. I was hooked to on to dubstep at that gig”

Over his 15-year long musical career he’s used his learnings from globetrotting in varied projects. And his project Order of the Essence (with Udyan from Bandish Project) is the perfect example. “I was always looking out for someone to do a duo act with. Udyan was more into into mid-tempo glitch while I was into dubstep. The music rubbed off each other. And obviously two artists could do much more than a solo project. You could do a lot of gimmicks, online sampling and what not”.

Currently he is working on the final stages of his upcoming album Transition. “In the last 2-3 years I have undergone a transition ”“ be it life or music”. The album features some of India’s best known and international artists like Ustad Sultan Khan, Kailash Kher and Shankar Mahadevan, among others. “Every track features an artist. In fact it’s getting terrific response whenever I have played a few tracks at recent gigs,” he says.

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So now that the music scene has come full circle with electro exponents like MIDIval Punditz landing themselves a Bollywood soundtrack (Karthik Calling Karthik), does that change things? “Wel,l not really. In Bollywood there is always pressure from the movies director, actors and producer. Artists need to stand their ground and not have to worry about pleasing the producer or director. The best example is AR Rehman. Today no one can question him about his music. We all need to work towards a level where no one interferes with our work”.

Though the Bollywood scene may still not explode with opportunities for electronic artists we are sure that we have reached a stratum where collaboration is the key. And Breed’s startling rise on the world’s respected chart is proof. Like DJ Nasha puts it, “In the end everyone benefited with ”˜Mirrors’. Jalabee Cartel, Breed and my record label High Chai.”

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