Simply put, Sanjay Dutta has been rocking the club scene of India three decades now, a pioneering great in the dance music sphere, riding those shiny vinyl for our aural pleasure from back in the day and really, doing it right. Think star-gazing melting pot of futuristic Techno down to Progressive House that is hard to stand around to, there was a time when he experimented with Hard House down to Euro Trance, uplifting many on the way of the country’s small but vibrant underground circuit. Wrap all this with renowned residencies at top clubs of yore, to breaking pop CD’s on the ground when provoked, he ‘is’ the monster DJ no one can ignore.
Ahead of his performance at Amsterdam Dance Event, writer Priya Sen sat with Sanjay Dutta to discuss
Hi Sanjay, great to have a quick chat before you leave for ADE 2016. Which parties are you playing and where?
Hello Priya, great to be featured on Decoded Magazine. Thanks for this. Well, I am playing for two parties this year. The first one is for Ankytrixx & Friends Entertainment (AFE) called ‘Sleepless’ on the 20th of October at Cinema Cafe. This is an all-nighter featuring some amazing talent. The 2nd party is for Modern Agenda on the 22nd October at Kashmir Lounge. It was an honour to be invited by Amber Long for this. I am super excited for both.
You are quite the legend in the Indian dance music scene. Having seen your involvement rooted deep in bringing the best music first, and star status amongst the music fraternity, do you find it hard to live up to the hype and pressure that goes with the title of being one of India’s frontrunner nearly 3 decades now?
Thank you. It is humbling to be respected by other DJs and being able to win hearts of the audience at the same time. To be honest, I think I have been very lucky. I am not trying to be modest here but that’s the truth. Yes, I like to stay true to my beliefs and haven’t compromised on the choices I made. There is always this pressure of staying cutting-edge but I enjoy that pressure, it keeps me going, to continue playing and enjoying every minute of it.
Apart from your DJing career, you also have a project by the name of Coalition Music that doubles up as a record label as well, how’s that coming along?
Coalition Music is now mostly handled by my partner DJ Beat2. I give my inputs and discuss all matters with him. We are starting a training school for aspiring DJs in Mumbai soon. We intend to restart our tours with guest DJs in 2017. All depends on time and support from sponsors and other associates. Beat2 is producing some great music himself and releasing it on Coalition. There will be some great new music from other producers on Coalition to look forward to.
You also host a radio show called – “Origin” on Frisky Radio. What’s the flavour of these monthly mixes?
Yes, this happens every month under the aegis of Coalition Music. We have had a decent response and a steady increase in listenership. The sounds are mostly in the progressive/tech house space. Beat2 and I both do a 60 min set each. I really enjoy doing this.
You are unarguably one of the first exponents of Progressive House in a country that has had difficulty digesting this style for the longest time. Are there any positive thoughts out of the scene at the moment?
Pushing any form of non-commercial sounds in a commercial market is never easy. But there has been a remarkable growth in the awareness of underground music. Lots of youngsters are opening up to the idea of this style and accepting it well. Progressive House is an evolved genre of club music. It is meant for an audience which is musically evolved, open-minded and free spirited (if I may say so). I have certainly noticed a growth in this segment. However, I am not convinced that the scene will ever become an Amsterdam or Ibiza. We can only keep on pushing and hope for the scene to get bigger. There is scope for it.
I know for a fact that you possess an enviable record collection, what do you do to maintain them?
Ha! Yes, I have these gems locked-up in my granny’s old home. Well, they are just there locked up in 3 almirahs. Someday I shall put them on the SL1210 platter again and let it roll…… someday.
What do you think is the main reason for your musical longevity, it can’t have been rosy all the time, what was your biggest challenge and how did you face it?
Music and DJing are a very important part of my life and needless to say I have kept them simple. No tricks, no unnecessary gadgets, no complications. Just plain music mixed and played the way it’s supposed to be played. I choose my music which truly stimulates me. I am a clubber at heart so I guess that helps me connected to the clubber on the dancefloor. I play for every clubber’s delight and that includes me.
The biggest challenge has been to say NO to commercial music. By doing that I said NO to a lot of lucrative offers and fat pay cheques, residencies etc. I feel it’s a small price to pay for the happiness I get in playing what I truly enjoy and love. I have zero regrets so yes; I have faced my challenges and fortunately won over them.
Can you give us a couple of producers whose works you are really enjoying and playing at the moment?
Undoubtedly, Guy J is my favourite. He is a miracle man. I also really like Guy Mantzur, CID Inc, Dmitry Molosh, Stephan Bodzin, Li-Polymer and many more such talented producers. I always look forward to their work.
Do you think underground music is finding its way in the sun, let’s say a force to be reckoned with in current times, and are you happy with the overall scene?
Yes, of course. The Indian audience is showing promise. Yes, I am happy, considering all the circumstances around us in India (social, political, economic etc).
Any technology you are dying to own?
Haha, nothing at the moment, I have what I need at the moment. As I said earlier, I like to keep my life as simple as possible. So if technology helps me simplify my life, I will embrace it openly. However, I will never let a machine decide for me how to mix 2 tracks. I will continue to be a DJ and mix the tracks of my choice the way I would on vinyl like how I used to back in the day. However since you asked, my next piece of gear is the Korg Minilogue for production.
Lastly, how’s the rest of 2016 looking and what plans for the New Year?
I still do not have a booking for New Year’s Eve. I do have a few offers but nothing concrete yet. 2016 has been very exciting actually. Other than hosting Wednesday nights at a club called BLACK in Kolkata and gigs in other Indian cities, I have worked a lot with my dear friend Ankytrixx ever since he started Cntrl Alt Dance and AFE. He is doing exceptionally well. He is genuinely supporting the underground scene in India and the entire Indian DJ fraternity. The AFE team is dedicated to promoting quality sounds and I am very glad to be on their roster ever so frequently.