Discovering his heritage

Discovering his heritage

His name is  Niles Hollowell Dhar but  music lovers know him as 'KSHMR'. The Indian-American DJ, record producer and musician is from Berkeley, California.  Earlier this year, he launched his own label 'Dharma Worldwide' and he's been travelling the world  for concerts.  

He was in the city recently as part of his India tour and won hearts of his fans. 

He talks to Anila Kurian  about what it's like being an international DJ and how he draws inspiration from India.  

Did you have a  good time performing in Bengaluru?  

Yes, the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd was great. I had  a few of my family members attend  the concert, especially my  cousin who had to return to boarding school right after that. I'm glad he got to come along for the show.

What do you like most about India?  

I'm very happy to be here. To be in India is like homecoming to me.  Whenever I came here as a kid, I would just spend  time with my family. My world was very small. But now when I come here, I have millions of friends  with arms wide open. These are people I have connected to through my music. I discovered myself with my own heritage. It has given  me a great sense of meaning in my life.

 How much of Indian influence did you have growing up?  

I just knew about Bollywood  movies that came on television which my dad used to watch on Sundays. There was an interesting duality in my family as my mother is a Christian. She would go to church on Sunday mornings and my dad would be in bed watching Bollywood films. So as a kid, I found sitting at home more interesting! And I just visited India  during vacations.

Was it difficult being an Indian-American?  

To be honest, I didn't take much interest in my Indian  heritage because I just wanted to fit in. So it wasn't until I grew older that I started to appreciate what made me unique and gave more thought to that in forming my identity.  

You worked with Sonu Nigam recently. Tell us about that experience.Sonu is a kind soul.  My grandfather is a huge fan of his, so I took him to meet Sonu. I couldn't believe how much of an interest Sonu took in my grandfather. He cared about his stories and wanted to hear them all. My grandfather was flattered and since then, Sonu has been enquiring about his well-being and health. He is very open-minded in the studio and it was a pleasure working with him.    

Any advice to aspiring DJs?  

You should not focus on DJing but focus on producing. If you're only DJing, you are playing somebody else's music and that can only get you so far. You want to be playing your own music. Your hard work is your voice as a DJ.  

You're doing great work and many are appreciating your work. Do you ever feel like you might lose that spark?  

I lose my spark all the time but then I get it back. Then I lose it again and so on. That is a part of being a creative person.

If you had the power to abolish a musical genre, which one would it be?

It is music from the 90s - I couldn't do with it then and I don't want to hear it now.

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