Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
For the last 2 month I am getting back to my regular routine after all those idling-around days during the pandemic. I get up at 5.30 AM in the morning. Go for my morning walk. After coming back, I practice mindfulness. I use waking up app by Sam Harris for this. By 7.30 AM I will have my student from the DJing mentorship programme I do. I finish my breakfast by 9 and start my work for Wind Horse Records and my own label Dynamite Disco Club. By 10 I try to finish this and spend an hour or two on music production.
By 12 pm I head to kitchen and start cooking my lunch. I like cooking. It is also an inspiring process for me. After lunch I watch some movies and take a nap for an hour or hour and half. (YES, I DO TAKE NOON NAP). Then I get up and head back to studio and start working on music or my radio show. By 6.30 PM I have my second student from my DJing programme. By 8 PM I have my Dinner, I will watch a movie or a documentary and try to hit bed by 10 PM. I will try to read a book or listen to an audio book for 30 mins. And go to sleep by 10.30 PM. I try to get at least 7 hours of sleep. A healthy and recharged brain is very important to keep the work we do.
This is my weekday schedule or on a normal day. During weekends or on a gig day I work till noon and in evening I prepare for the event. Pre pandemic usually during weekends I end up traveling a lot. So I'm spending a lot of time on airports. That’s the most boring part of this career. Can’t wait for someone to invent teleportation.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
Playing at Magnetic Fields festival in 2017 really helped me get the attention among an Indian audience. Also, this was my first time playing in front of a large audience even though I've been DJing since 2010. Since I was from a small city in the South of India, no one used to book me on the other side of the country. So, playing for a bigger audience and big sound system was super special.
Starting the Dynamite Disco Club radio show on boxout fm worked as a catalyst for this to happen. I've been doing radio show and podcasts from 2010 onwards. Have played in 20 plus internet radios around the globe and have done 300 plus episodes and guest mixes for various shows. All these experiences led me to launch my brand Dynamite Disco Club.
I wanted to start something that can evolve into something bigger. I wanted to start a culture revolution in India with Disco and House music. With this in mind I started Dynamite Disco Club as radio show and a year later we started throwing parties, and a year into it I started the DJing mentorship programme. Now we have a launched record label as the latest addition to the DDC universe. Not sure if I can pin point things as inspirations but I give credit to all those music, movies, books and experience I had over the last 10 years which lead me to this point.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I have dedicated space for everything in my life. I use my studio to do all the work. I never take my laptop to my bedroom or living room for work nor do I chill in my studio. This helps me get into the creative or work mode when I enter my studio. It helps me stay focused because the brain knows it's entering into work mode. Also, I keep my phone on silent when I produce music which help me not to get distracted. The noon nap I mentioned will help me recharge my brain.
For the last 6 months I started taking breaks every 90 mins to go outside and give my eyes and ears some break. Just go outside and look at something that will be in panorama vision (Wide vision). It will help you give some exercise also to your eyes. I started doing this after listening to Dr. Andrew Huberman’s (Neuroscientist and professor) talk on vision.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
For me music always healed me. I felt in so many times in my life how music made me go forward even when there were so many obstacles. Music always played a great part in human evolution, be it the evolution of the brain or shaping cultures music always worked for us. Music therapy is used widely in treatment for Parkinson’s Disease and Amnesia patients. Also, music is a great tool for spreading a message or making a point. Musicians like Fela Kuti, Public Enemy, Bob Dylan, and activists like Pussy Riot etc have used music for bringing changes to the society they are part of. Even religion use music to make their rituals and sermons interesting.
Music as a tool can even start helping humans even before they are born. Studies that say exposing your child to music ignites all areas of child development. And doing this early (Pregnancy period) can help ensure that your baby grows up healthy. There is a UNICEF video saying “Is your baby getting enough music?”. So, I believe music is one of the best tools available to humans not for just healing but also for development and evolution of humans.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
As a musician and DJ I believe it is my responsibility to educate people about cultures and their music but as human being I also have the responsibility to understand and do a research about the history of these cultures. When you do that, most probably you will use it for the right purpose and in the right way.
I think we need more people to get exposure to different cultures, and I believe more people need to understand how different cultures and civilization helped each other in shaping modern societies. This will make us understand that society better and help us reduce prejudice or hate towards them.
Also, I don’t believe some music can be owned by certain people. For example, the 808 drum machine was invented by the Japanese, and drums have a history that goes back to 6000 BC. So, no one can take ownership to genres or type of music. We can give credit for what they did for that genre and how important their contribution is but not ownership. Nowadays good music can come from anywhere and good music doesn’t have any culture, gender or racial difference. It’s just good music.
While having these fusions and cultural evolutions, we humans can make mistakes. But the only way we can reduce mistakes is by bringing awareness and exposure and not by shouting at the people who commit mistakes.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
For me my the favourite overlapping of senses in a sound scenario is goosebumps. How we get goosebumps when we hear great music or if we listen to a threatening sound is a perfect example of senses overlapping. It has always amazed me when I hear some music that it gives you goosebumps even though its your first time listening to that track.
Our brain is one of the most complicated things on this planet I believe. And all our five senses are controlled or managed by the brain using sensors and the nervous system. Sight, hearing, and touch—are part of this sensory nervous system, and are linked together. This is the reason why the senses overlap.
Some people have a condition called synaesthesia, in which their senses actually overlap. Some can see colours when they listen to music, some feel an itch when they hear piano music.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
I believe we have a super important role in shaping the culture and socio-political views of society as an artist. The first lesson in my mentorship programme is about what our role is in this time: We have to be an entertainer, an educator and an artist at same time. Also, it’s equally important to give back to society, this is the basic responsibility as a human being.
Our role in modern society is super important in these difficult times. There is a quote by Toni Morrison “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There’s no time for despair, no place for self pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. This is how civilizations heal.“
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Not sure about death, never had that experience and not sure that we should believe if anyone talks about things after death. There is zero evidence or any first-hand experience.
But music can express so many things about life. Music is equally powerful as religion I believe. In fact house and disco music have taught me more than religion have taught me. It helped me understand that the human race belongs together. And we all know that connection between fellow dancers on the dance floor even though they don’t know each other is something words can’t describe. We, the human race, need each other for survival.