Just as the change of seasons, the music scene of Vizag has transmogrified over the decades, the most recent wave being that of EDM, catching on like a house on fire. Whilst the evolution made the city an incubator for aspiring DJs, we bring you the journey of the DJs who have been here from before the trend caught on, with decade long careers to speak about.
Starting off as a professional DJ in 1996, DJ Bobsy has a 19 year long career to boast about. Taking in DJ aspirants under his wing for training and guidance, he has a unique insight on the industry.
“I grew up listening to bands like Pink Floyd and Scorpions. I would still say they are my strongest influences. But after a while, I started exploring new music and other genres. That’s when electronic music happened for me.”
Starting off, Bobsy never aspired to become a DJ. It was his choice of music around that time that led him to the profession. Initially playing just for select parties hosted by his friends, his hobby turned into a career option when SKY Lounge roped him in.
“I take pride in making people of any age dance. That you can only achieve by knowing and assessing the crowd you are playing to.”
DJ Bobsy has been in the industry playing to the Vizag crowd and elsewhere for almost two decades now. The very fact that he has sustained in the music scene for as long as he has is testament of his skill and an achievement in itself.
“The crowd needs more exposure to the world-stage. They are at a place where they assume that commercial EDM is to electronic music on the whole which narrows our scope to experiment with lesser prevalent but equally worthy sub genres like base or techno.”
Bobsy noted that the growth of the music scene in Vizag is definitely not at par with the development of the city. But he envisions that changing, as the separation of the state has fired the city into development and growth with scope of more clubs popping up, giving them a stronger platform.
Advice for the up and coming
“You’re doing it wrong if you have a pre-set playlist. Go clubbing and listen to the other DJs and explore the music scene in the city before you start performing.”
Bobsy believes that a DJ can never limit himself to one playlist for an evening. He insists it is important that you listen to the crowd and proceed with the tempo and energy the crowd gives you. He also emphasizes on exploring different styles of playing.
Being around from the time when DJs used cassettes, DJ styles have seen the EDM scene hit us and had a hand in shaping it too. Here is what he had to say about the industry.
“When I started off professionally, the city was still very Rock oriented, music-wise. We never really had the kind of equipment that is common today. The only exposure we had was when DJs from outside would come to the city to play.”
Entering the global scene in 2000, DJ Stylz, popularly known as Gangu, went outside the city to train and master the technical know-how of the craft. Starting as a DJ in Chrome just as it began operations, he quickly established himself in the music scene and the Page 3.
“For me personally, it doesn’t matter where I’m playing, whether it is Vizag or somewhere out of the country. My main focus is the crowd in front of me. No matter which gig I’m playing, the audience must be engaged- 200%.”
After establishing himself all over the country and abroad, this DJ still prefers holding base in the city. He has an impressive track record of performances in Dubai, Hong Kong etc., and has shared the stage with the likes of Nikhil Chinapa and DJ Pearl.
Advice for the up and coming
“Cater to your audience. Take requests from the crowd. If you come across a genre of music you haven’t ventured into yet, do your homework and master it.”
Gangu believes that it is the crowd that should set the tone to any evening, therefore it is never advisable for a DJ to stick to one genre. The art is in diversifying and learning as you go. He believes any good DJ in the making is one that caters to the audience.
“I think we have gone backwards, when it comes to the crowd or the music scene. Sure, we have better technology and more exposure, but it stopped being about the music and I don’t know what the future has in store for us.”
Gangu believes that the music scene has gotten worse because of the hype that being a DJ or listening to EDM entails. He says that the younger generation is only interested in this profession because of its “cool factor” but for them it’s not really about the music and the same goes for the crowd.
Growing up listening to the likes of Pink Floyd, this DJ has explored a variety of genres which have strongly influenced and induced a unique sounds to his music, setting him apart from the rest of the artists in the city.
“I always loved music and spent all my money on buying tapes, but my interest in DJing spurred only after a good old friend of mine introduced me to mixing.”
A lot of people get exposed to dance music at a young age, but not everyone starts playing professionally at 18. Swarup has been at this craft for a decade now. Starting off initially as a singer in a band back then, he tried his hand at DJing when his band broke up due to conflicting goals.
“As a resident, I always have a unique blend of playful, funk-laden grooves, often contrasted by deep (but blistering) house, groovy techno. I try to give people goose bumps and help them to discover new music that they’ve never heard before.”
He took off as a ’warm up DJ’ for Dusk, later easing into a residency at Xtreme sports bar. From there he moved on to Four points by Sheraton as a ‘Head resident DJ’ and is currently working with The Park as a ‘Head resident & artist programming’.
“When you play new music you better hope that the crowd is on your side because if not, there’s going to be a lot of head scratching going on.”
The biggest challenge for him was to educate the crowd about new sounds. At first he says he was ambivalent to the wave of change but over the years he has evolved as a DJ and learnt to embrace the new competition and tried providing quality music to Vizag club groovers.
About right now..
“Vizag needs to change what it listens to! There are so many new sounds and music that is yet to be explored. I constantly advise our folks to give what we play a try. This way, you can see loads of artists experimenting on sounds and the music scene can be taken to the next level.”
According to Swarup, in recent years Vizag has started to lay claim to a glowing and passionate independent music scene. However there is still local music domination in the clubs (Bollywood). While none of the DJs are biased towards any genre, very few DJs or production houses have been able to step out of their comfort zone with respect to showcasing unique talent.
Holding his own as an artist for about 12 years now, the resident DJ of Novotel had his fair share of gigs and ventures outside the city. Exposing us to the sounds he picked up from his residency in Mumbai, he promises us fresh and interesting music.
Then and now
“Three years back when we started BASSMENT nights we had to define our music as non-Bollywood as there was not much awareness for sub genres. Now we can easily do a specialised night of Techno or Dub step. So the awareness has grown a lot and every person knows what’s what.”
DJ Kedia believes that we are at a really interesting point in music evolution. Where it will head is anyone’s guess but the right awareness from the resident DJs will help shape it. There are so many DJs playing good music and also making the crowd aware of the same. That’s a really healthy sign for the music community.
“ATB was the first electronic DJ I heard and that was my biggest influence. Hip Hop artists like Nelly & Justin Timberlake were my initial favourites. DJ Bobsy had a major impact on my music, as I trained under him and then I met DJ Murthovic & Priyanjana who helped me hone my skills further.”
The DJ specializes in Hip Hop, Trap & Funk. You can hear him play House, Techno and Bollywood depending on the gig, but his style is Urban & Funk and that makes its way no matter what genre he plays. He always relies on old school Hip Hop jams and specially edited party breaks and Mishaps to get the floor going.
The back seat
“What I would like though is to see live music also evolve as that has taken a back seat. Music shouldn’t be just DJs and Electronic/Bollywood music. We will try and put a plan out for that soon.”
As he also runs an event and artist management company called BASSMENT, he states that the biggest challenge at the moment is shortage of venues. There is no dedicated night club or bar which means artists play to an audience just on select days and there is not much scope in that from an artist’s point of view.
Discussion about this post