When it comes to fusion of Bollywood beats with electronic music, DJ NYK is the first name that pops up in the head. DJ NYK, aka Nikhil Sahni, has been a born experimenter, in a habit to string together meaningful pieces of self-expression. Titled as “King of Remixes”, DJ NYK has also won the best Bollywood DJ Award twice in a row at the 2012 and 2013 VH1 MYFAV Awards. Recently, he has come up with PLAY LIFE PROJECT – a project equipped with a Podcast, Record Label and a Live Act aiming to give form & direction to the dreams of every EDM producer and fan in India. Here’s an exclusive interview with DJ NYK.
You are known as the biggest DJ of Bollywood who created the concept of fusing Electronic & Bollywood music together. Tell us how it came to be that?
Since childhood I had an inclination towards up tempo music. While I was in school I got exposed to the Techno music of the 90’s and Bollywood music is something that we all have grown up listening to as Indians. So looking at my musical influences this marriage of Electronic Music with Bollywood was bound to happen. I got hold of a demo software called Sound Forge back in 2001 and started fiddling around with it on my computer & managed to create remixes on it. I used to sample the beats from Electronic music and ride them over the bollywood songs. Back then there were no softwares like ‘Mixed In Key’ to assist you with the root note of a song to create mashups , but I still managed to judge the song keys by my ears , so I managed to do some mashups as well. Later on when I got exposed to more genres of Electronic music I experimented & created sounds that were so infectious that it would keep me going in the studio through nights without sleep. From Drum & Bass to Asian Underground & Psy Trance i infused it all with Bollywood. There seemed to be no negative effects of marrying these two genres that I could think of, except the possibility of me being targeted by artists specialized in either genre exclusively or of course me being labeled with BDM solely. Unfortunately, both happened [Laughs] ! But then there’s nothing more powerful than the love and support of fans. As the Electronyk Generation started liking it, they spread it like wild fire and today the Indian DJing scene stands transformed along with Bollywood OSTs.
What inspired you to become a DJ? Is there someone you look up to?
My inspiration was partly the love & passion for music and partly my curiosity for technology. Throughout my childhood I would randomly pick up music instruments and start learning to play it. When computers hit the shop shelves in India I was already getting proficient with the keyboard and that’s when my curiosity kicked in and I was hooked on to the tech bandwagon. By the time I was finishing school I had already discovered a way to blend the 2 together with mostly self-learning & hit and trial to create a few rough tracks. That moment I knew exactly what I wanted to do for a living and get a piece of the pie that was slowly but steadily baking in the Indian clubs then. Along the way I’ve had many artists inspire and teach me directly or indirectly and things I agree would have been very different without them around. To name a few Armin Van Burren, Eric Prydz, Above & Beyond have been like an unending source of knowledge and inspiration. Our very own Indian superstar Dj’s Aqeel, Suketu, Akbar Sami & Nasha inspired me too.
You just started a new project by the name of Play Life, which is mainly for the Electronic Music listeners. Tell us more about the concept?
It took me over year to conceptualize Play Life Project and every time we thought that we have nailed it, some or the other questions remained unanswered. I wanted to create something that covers all aspects of Indian EDM industry and the challenge became keeping everyone happy. Finally with many returns trips to the drawing board the project came a full circle for both fans and artists.
Here’s how it works :
Play Life Project comes equipped with a Podcast, Record label & a path breaking Live Show. The Podcast & Record Label are focused on identifying homegrown EDM talent and offering them opportunities and exposure. PlayLife Podcast comes with 90 Minutes of fresh electronic music every fortnight with a ‘SHOWCASE’ segment where upcoming Indian EDM producers get featured/highlighted and the ‘GUEST MIX’ segment where I would invite the established celebrity DJ’s from India and abroad to share their 30 minute sets which would educate the listeners and expose them to a wide spectrum of sounds that each guest mix would bring.Play Life Record Label on the other hand would scout for the talented Indian Music Producers making Original Electronic Music & provide them a platform & feature their music worldwide on all the major online music stores like iTunes, Beatport etc. I strongly believe until and unless we have a healthy & strong homegrown EDM scene we will not be able to make a big impact worldwide. Play Life Project is my attempt to bring the EDM fans and artists together under one roof, which will facilitate the growth of the domestic EDM scene in India. PLAY LIFE Project is an attempt to brand a billboard of such proportions that the World has no choice but to sit up and take notice. I’ll share the details about the Live Show called ” Play Life Connect ” when the right time comes. In light to that, PLAY LIFE Project chooses the HEART to be its representative symbol because it tends to emulate similar virtues. Play Life’s heart attempts to pump life in to the Indian EDM scene by reassuring the established artists and giving hope to the aspirants. Play Life endeavors to empower the hearts of all the EDM fans and Indian artists, to unite them and as a cohesive unit represent India on World Stage.
Does the Play Life podcast means there will be no Electronyk podcasts?
Even though I want the Electronyk Generation to grow with me musically, it will be very bigoted of me to sideline their interest in BDM that attracted their loyalty towards me to start with. It only means that i’ll have to work twice as hard now. I will continue to perform Bollywood music as a DJ and produce Bollywood music alongside my EDM endeavours. I will keep rolling out the episodes of Electronyk Podcast as well. I’m confident that keeping EDM under a totally unique Play Life banner will build it’s own separate brand in the long run.
What do you currently think about the Electronic Music scenario in India?
India EDM is in a growing stage and kind of volatile, it needs to be garnered and nourished, making it the responsibility of every new and established artist. It’s like raw clay and we can either sculpt it into something fascinatingly beautiful or just average. The choice is ours! Play Life has been introduced at the right time to guide us to success on World stage but that will only happen with a mutual effort from both artists and fans. The potential needs to be harnessed now and only in the right direction. That’s why i want to call out to all the EDM artists to build networks through music and support each other to create a vibrant domestic EDM scene.
Your first podcast release showcased Indian EDM artists. Is this a regular feature to support homegrown talent ?
Yes, I featured Shaan J in the first episode to put a spotlight on his EDM production skills. I came across his music through the demos he emailed me and his music immediately displayed signs of great potential. As promoting talent is a part of the Play Life Project concept, it struck me to take this opportunity to showcase his music by infusing it into the podcast. This way I was able to take his music to many listeners who would tune in counting on my credibility. The Podcast now will continue to keep the Homegrown Showcase segment aligned with the vision of the project. Every fortnight I will showcase a new artist with a hope that EDM listeners in India identify this opportunity to take things beyond one person’s interests and spread the word. I also look forward to signing Shaan J’s original music on my imprint Play Life Records as well.
What do you aim to achieve through Play Life Project?
The aim is simple and direct I want to take EDM India to a level that no other genre has seen. As a nation we have achieved great heights in almost all fields of work and art, it is about time we put India on the EDM map in a prominent position as well. Being the youngest nation in the world we are quietly growing into a new emerging power. As an artist I want to empower all the independent music producers in India, encourage creativity and stir innovation beyond what money and power can buy. I want to bring together the individual efforts made in all parts of the country and give it direction to be a team. I want to give an opportunity to the budding artists by promoting them through the Play Life Podcast and give them a platform to release their music worldwide & bring them exposure through the Play Life Record Label. The aim is to create a community of artists and fans so strong that no other nation can compete. Our strength is in our numbers and we have not yet knocked on that door.
Your first single ‘Living Kings’. Tell us more about the story behind it?
‘Living Kings’ is an original I composed and co-wrote with British Singer/Songwriter Stephen 2 years ago. We worked together to bring to life the exceptionally motivating song lyrics. The story was short and sweet even though it took months to materialize. I wanted to produce a song with meaningful lyrics and something that doesn’t get forgotten in the myriad of other EDM singles. My idea was to talk about aspects of life that everybody pays attention to but get scared to try. I wanted to talk about risk and the importance of chasing dreams. Living Kings tells the story of every fantasist stuck in the daily rigmarole of life in pursuit of survival and how with a little introspection & risk they realize they are Living Kings in true sense. This is the mindset I adapted while moving out of my comfort zone i.e Bollywood remixes to pure EDM and initiating the Play Life Project. I believe fear of taking risks can change the course & outcome of a persons’ life in ways that we remain unaware of.
What more can we expect in future?
Expect a lot of collaborations with International and Indian artists. The release that would follow Living Kings would be my collaboration with Daniel Wanrooy from Holland. In future you can also expect my full fledged path breaking live EDM show called “PLAY LIFE Connect” where i’ll be pushing the technology to bring an immersive audio-visual-lighting spectacle for my fans. I’ll divulge more info about the show next year. This would go on parallel with my already in swing Electronyk Show which is also an Audio-Visual show but targeted toward my Bollywood fans.
A few quick questions:
Your favorite EDM producer?
Difficult to name just one. I admire Jaytech, Kryderr, Grum, Zomboy, Tom Staar. The list just goes on.
Top 3 EDM songs you are digging right now
Tommy Trash feat. JHart – Wake The Giant (Kryder & Tom Tyger Remix)
Arisen Flame – Dreamland (Original Mix)
On My way – Axwell Ingrosso
Apart from Electronic, which genre do you love the most
I am a big fan of Ambient music. That’s one genre that i know i’ll eventually end up producing a few years down the line. I really wish to do a full Ambient album some day.
PS : Play Life Podcast Episode #001 has entered the iTunes chart at #10 and slowly climbing the charts. Its at #9 as on today.
Check out DJ NYK’s PLAY LIFE PROJECT here.