Working late nights as a DJ may seem like a glamorous job to have, but it requires just as much hard work as any other career! We spoke to Samar Benipal, or DJ Chryses about what it means to be a DJ/ Music Producer in India today:
Q 1. When did you first start DJing? Your Facebook page says that you’re an electrical engineer by education, what encouraged you take up music as a career, specifically as a DJ/ Music Producer?
A1. DJing came gradually to me. I am an Electronics Engineer from Thapar University Patiala. I’ve always loved music and it was very fascinating for me to look at the DJ playing with music. That feeling never left me and while studying I started teaching myself how to mix music on Virtual DJ, a computer based DJ software. The desire to learn more kept growing and I ended up going to SAE Institute in Oxford, England and did a degree in Audio Production to learn the technical side of music. Music has been a source of contentment for me so I just couldn’t give it up during my engineering and now I am as happy as I can be.
Q 2. What, in your opinion, truly differentiates a DJ from a Music Producer? With the abundance of remixes, remakes, and samples doing the rounds, what do you have to say about the importance of respecting original sources?
A2. Typically a DJ is a person whose job is to keep the music playing without any pauses and breaks for an audience from either an entertainment or an educational point of view. Music Producer is the person who produces music or takes existing ideas and gives them a personalised touch. Music is exactly the same as any other form of art. There is an empty canvas upon which strokes of melody give birth to feelings and emotions. In today’s times, everything needs an idea that drives a project forward. It doesn’t matter if someone makes a remix or bootlegs; everything requires creativity to enable one to reach their goals. Yes, the original sources are profoundly important as they play a vital role in instigating the producer with an idea for his piece to create something extraordinary from the sounds that we’ve already heard in a completely fresh package.
Q 3. Which artists influenced your work when you started? And today? What are your favourite genres to play/ produce? How do you think your work is different from other DJs/ producers playing similar genres?
A3. In 2011, I was very fortunate to witness Armin Van Buuren live in concert and that changed my point of view of the music industry and DJing in particular forever. I dove into trance and that genre carried me forward. Now I appreciate music more than ever and have started venturing into techno as my food for the soul. Witnessing artists like David August and Nicolas Jaar in performances adds another dimension to the way music is performed. Another artist who has been a mainstay for me is Carl Cox.
Well the only way to sustain in this highly competitive industry is to have a USP, I guess my urge to experiment with different genres gives me an edge as the performance has an air of unpredictability about it. Unpredictable translates to exciting and excitement in turn ensures a memorable time.
Q 4. What challenges did you face when you first started in this field? How did you deal with them, do these challenges still persist?
A4. The challenges are the same for everyone who ventures into a new field and starts from scratch. This industry is very tightly knit and connected. To become a part of this takes time and perseverance. From 2010 onwards from the completion of my degree I started pursuing DJing as a career. It is all about hard work and determination. Now it has been 5 years since my constant struggle and finally things have now started taking shape and falling into place. Yes, these challenges still persist but they are not as unforgiving as they were when I was starting out.
Q 5. What are your favourite and least favourite parts about life as a DJ?
A5. My favourite part of DJing has to be the adrenaline rush that I get while performing in front of an audience. The bigger the audience relates to me getting a bigger rush. I can not really think of anything of DJing that I don’t like as this defines who I am and my life and I am happy with everything that is happening.
Q 6. Run us through what a typical day (or night) at work is like for you?
A6. Well a typical day starts at around 4 pm when I usually wake up. Post breakfast, lunch, tea all rolled into one meal I get on with my gut feel. There are days when I just spent the day listening to music and then there are other days when I prepare a set for my online radio show called Union of Sound Sessions. If that isn’t the case then I’d be in the studio working on new productions or mashups and edits for my sets. The time ends up flying through the night and I usually end up sleeping at about 9 am. I love working at night as there is minimal disturbance and peace. This is usually my typical day.
Q 7. DJing as a career in India is rapidly gaining momentum, would you agree? What advice would you give to students who’d like to take this up?
A7. Yes, a lot of people have started looking at DJing as a viable career option lately. The entertainment industry is booming and now is the time to jump on the bandwagon. DJing as a career is looked at as a very glamorous career but as with any other career there are a lot of facets about this as are with any other career. My only advice for students who wish to pursue it as a career option would be to stop looking at DJing superficially for starters and to pursue it only if you are passionate about music. If you do make up your mind to follow your heart then be prepared for endless practise hours and undying determination to keep honing your skills. It takes a great deal of patience and perseverance to wait for the platform of your dreams. It will come to you only through hard work and a fiery passion and unending love for music.
Q 8. Which achievement so far are you most proud of, is there anything you’re currently working on/ what are your plans for the future?
A8. There have been a couple of firsts that make me extremely happy. For instance, a film I worked on as a sound guy in England made its way to Cannes and earned me my first credit on IMDB. The first time I performed for Sunburn was really a life altering moment.
For the moment, I am working on a deep house/techno EP and It should be out by July. Alongside, I am sound designing for a film house called Static Airwaves in England and just starting to delve into the scoring aspect of the films as well. Life is all about sounds. The plans for the future are simple. I’ll be doing my thing and keep experimenting with new sounds and hope to bring new music to the masses. 2015 looks like a great year. For the immediate future, I will be performing at Kitty Su Delhi on Wednesday, 29th of April so I hope to meet you guys there.
Q 9. Where can we check out your music?
This article has been adapted from DU Beat.