10 DJs to look forward to in 2017
India’s festival season has officially kicked off, so here are 10 DJs you cannot miss in the coming months…
This might just be the year that lets the world in our little big secret: Nucelya’s (Udyan Sagar) taking over the globe. When the dust settled on Las Vegas-based Enchanted Valley Carnival’s (EDC) Delhi edition, the buzz online was how India’s homegrown hero outperformed every international headliner. Then, his management revealed that the Delhi-based artist had been booked for EDC Mexico in February. Better believe the hype. Sagar kicked off the season as early as September with a landmark album launch gig at the NSCI stadium in Mumbai. It was filled to capacity and had another 15,000 fans on the waitlist. His exhausting schedule means that you have every opportunity to catch Nucleya at a festival near you. But considering how things are panning out for him internationally, we say, catch him while you can.
If Facebook fans are anything to go by, Delhi-based EDM DJ Sarthack Sardana has had his biggest year yet. He’s added over 50,000 organic Facebook fans since December 2015. But it’s more than just the numbers. He’s gigged everywhere from Kanpur and Agra to Mangalore and Hyderabad. In October this year, he played alongside DJ Mag’s No 3 ranked DJ Hardwell, who was quite vocal in his appreciation of Sardana’s set. And his hard work in the studio has been rewarded with even more releases on top labels like Hardwell’s Revealed Recordings and Armin van Buuren’s Armada. Sardana is spreading the love by mentoring and releasing records with local EDM DJs. So when you see the guy and take that selfie, give him a hug, will you?
India’s techno don is one of the few DJs continues to push himself and his audience. His sound is the hardest and most challenging it’s ever been since he started his career. Still, while international EDM stars closed out Enchanted Daisy Carnival on the main stages, Vagale presided over an equally, in not more, impressive techno rave on the Neon Garden stage. It’s often left to him to prove that India’s underground community of DJs who play lesser known genres can flourish as much as EDM DJs; he’s always delivered. Besides playing a punishing schedule (Vagale plays four gigs in the last week of the year), he’s just as committed to bringing up the next generation of electronic music DJs, teaching at I Love Music (ILM) Academy in Delhi.
India’s capital boasts of two bonafide desi bass superstars: if you aren’t familiar with Su Real (Suhrid Manchanda), check out his sophomore album Twerkistan. The mammoth release features as many genres as its tracks. You’ll find everything from dubstep, footwork, hip-hop, kuduro, tribal house, catchy hooks and epic drops all laced together with Manchanda’s relentless energy. What you hear of Manchanda in his music is what you get on stage: a manic, uptempo, Jäger bomb of an act that’s terribly infectious.
EDM had plenty of representation at the inaugural Indian edition of Global Citizen in November this year. But the DJs who left with their reputations in tact were Lost Stories (Prayag Mehta and Rishab Joshi). The duo made even bigger waves in October this year, when they debuted at no 52 on DJ Mag’s Top 100 list, ranking even higher than previous Indian debutant DJ Chetas in 2015. They’ve followed that up with a collaboration with Dutch DJ trio Crossnaders, remixing a monster summer hit tune ‘Let Me Hold You’ by another American stars Cheat Codes and Dante Klein. Their reputation in Europe’s already been well established with slots at Tomorrowland and Mysteryland. With an upcoming date in Bali on the list, perhaps it’s time they conquer Asia as well.
Gaurav Malaker, one half of India’s pioneering audio-visual electronic music outfit, is known as something of a social media prankster. But there’s nothing silly about his sets or his music. Malaker’s played one of 2015’s most epic sets, DJing for close to five hours at Magnetic Fields. He’s already racked up plenty of festival appearances in the past few months, besides regular dates at top clubs across the country. His synth-heavy, melodic sound is something that makes him stand out from every other DJ, bringing people who might be unfamiliar with electronic music also into the fold.
India’s first ever chapter of the global streaming party, Boiler Room, debuted in the first week of December. And kicking off proceedings was Sandunes (Sanaya Ardeshir), whose future bass sets have been making waves across the world. It’s just reward for an incredibly hard-working, D-I-Y artist. In the monsoon, Ardeshir successfully completed her second US tour, performing from coast-to-coast, at venues in New York and Los Angeles. In October, she launched debut album Downstream, to much critical acclaim. She’s topped off releases, gigs and tours with an equally large number of collaborations, many of which are just as good as her class solo act.
Earlier this month, globe trotting DJ and promoter Ankytrixx (Ankit Kocher) celebrated his 100th gig of the year. That’s a gig every three days: a staggering milestone by any DJ’s standards. Kocher has a real, physical presence behind the console that accompany his trippy techno and tech-house sets, that make his achievement even more remarkable. This year, he’s doubled up as an aggressive promoter, booking international artists for tours, as well as promoting a clutch of talented local DJs. He’s also taken over the programming of several venues across the country, including the famous Beats Per Minute club in Hyderabad.
A Goan EDM superstar from the mecca of EDM, Anish Sood is a select member of the 100,000-plus fan club in India. Sood has not only broken through barriers but he’s also one of the few EDM DJs, along with Nucleya, to be signed on to the live-oriented agency Only Much Louder’s artist rosters. These days, Sood makes up a third of the agency’s holy trinity of Nucleya and Dualist Inquiry. That also makes him a somewhat left of centre EDM DJ: consider that in October he remixed British experimental electronic rock music act Radiohead. So you’re most likely to find his set peppered with chart toppers with an odd curveball thrown in for good measure.
India’s growing hip-hop scene has few artists who can straddle both the underground, old school world and the more contemporary bass-influenced, hydra-headed beast of a genre. Except DJ Uri. At NH7 Weekender, DJ Uri played with the Reggae Rajahs as well as hip-hop pioneer DJ Premier. The week before, he played a gig of classic tunes at Bonobo in Mumbai, while also making an appearance with Karan Joseph, India’s premier keyboardist. He’s also part of a rare breed of DJs who are still playing on turntables and also shares his collection with fans at listening sessions in Mumbai. If you feel like you have no clue what the big deal about DJing is all about, catch DJ Uri at the next festival to fall in love with the art.
Article by Benedict D’Costa
Photo credits: Sachin Soni, Neville Sukhia and Nishant Mehta
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