Spinning new tales

Hectic pace

Spinning new tales

It was a night of revelry for many party goers in the city who danced their hearts out till the wee hours of the morning and welcomed the new year in a fun-filled celebration.

Ecstatic screams and frenzied moves were heightened by the electrifying music being churned out from the turntables by the DJs; those heralds of thrill and zest. They add life to any party but their own lives are far from the picture-perfect versions we see on screen.

“I have been in the industry for 21 years now,” says DJ Clitus, one of the pioneers of the club scene in Bengaluru. “Till the early 2000s, we were seen as artistes and treated on par with musicians but after that, the nature of the profession changed. It became highly commercialised. A lot of constraints were imposed on what we could and should play; we were asked to stick to songs that the crowd knew. We lost the freedom to play our own tracks,” he rues.

DJ Rajesh agrees. “The nature of the challenges we face has changed but they never really go away. Earlier, DJing was not accepted as a profession. In fact, there was a huge confusion between DJs and bands; after all, both created music. I had to go around explaining to people what I did. But now people have understood this profession and demand has increased exponentially. With that, it has become a state of ‘survival of the fittest’. You have to be constantly updated, even if you are not actively playing anywhere.”

He goes on to add, “The politics in the field is another issue along with the kind of attitude that we sometimes have to deal with. Some members in the crowd, both in clubs and at private parties, have this feeling that since I am paying for the DJ, he has to do my bidding. They come and bug you to play songs of their liking — again and again.”

Many DJs feel that the business aspect of this profession is eclipsing the real reason they chose to enter this field in the first place —  a love for music. “Whenever you go to a club, rather than asking what kind of music you play, the first thing they ask is ‘how many people can you get?’,” says DJ Sachin. “I understand it is important for them. But for a DJ to be a crowd puller, they need to know what exactly will get the crowd going; the songs, the beats, the grooves and so on. For that, you need to practice in a club. But clubs are reluctant to give chances to newbies,” he says.

Health is one of the main sacrifices that people in this profession make. Erratic sleep patterns, lifestyle choices, extended shifts — all these combine to ensure that DJs have to be extra aware of their fitness. “We work as per US timings,” laughs Clitus. “I used to work (or party, if you will) till 6 in the morning and then sleep till 4-5 pm. To counter the ill effects, I make sure to eat only one meal a day and drink a lot of water, even to this day. I am also a non-drinker, something that most people find very hard to believe,” he says.

“There are many misconceptions about the lifestyles of DJs among people,” says Rajesh. “A lot of people think that we do drugs or sit around smoking or drinking. These are not prerequisites to becoming a DJ; lifestyle choices depend from person to person and should not be associated with a profession. I myself know many DJs who are non-smokers and non-drinkers. But people are not willing to accept that we can be this way too.” With the increasing popularity of this profession comes an increasing number of people dependent on technology instead of talent. “Every kid with a controller can be a DJ now,” says Sachin. “They just push a few buttons and mix and mash a few tracks. There is no originality, no love for music.”

“The young and upcoming DJs have it easy,” agrees Jayaram Sharma aka JayZ. “There is not much effort and creativity in the process. Most of them don’t even know the basics nowadays; they depend on social media or YouTube to create a name for themselves. Marketing is more, music is less.”

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