South Asians began migrating to more developed countries like England and the United Stated since 1965, and within a short time they became the wealthiest and the most educated ethnic group in these countries. By the 1990’s they became a respected community and were well recognized among the general public as “Desi”.
In India, however, these people were categorized as “NRI” (Non Resident Indians). The children of these immigrants were highly influenced by western culture and traditions; especially college and university students. For them, parties were the best place to express and convey their identities. This created a need and demand for clubs and DJs. Early Desi Clubs were made with two rooms: one in which DJs mixed Indian music, such as bhangra and Hindi film music, with hip hop and dance music, and other room with just hip-hop and rap.
In the 1990s T.S. sounds and other DJs started mixing Hindi film music. But these remixes were more an arrangement of Hindi songs and a western dance tracks than anything else. It was Bally Sagoo, a music artist born in India and raised in England, who set the quality standards for Desi DJs with his first hit album “Bollywood Flashback”. Early American remixes simply featured a drum machine adding new beats to the recording, whereas Bally Sagoo hired new vocalists to rerecord old film songs.
Bally Sagoo was born in India and moved to the UK at a very young age. He had developed the taste of mixing music when he was ten years old, mixing music in his bedroom; which he named, “Currywood Studios”. The Bollywood remix industry emerged from this humble beginning. Sagoo then started his career mixing at his college and at functions. Wherever and whenever he got the chance, he would experiment with Indian music and western beats. He risked his job for his passion and this greatly benefited him . His acclaimed album, “Magic touch” (released in 1992), in which he produced music for the legendary Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan became a huge landmark in the Asian community. In 1994 he was signed by Sony Music and became their biggest seller with his first Bollywood music album “Bollywood Flashback” which featured R.D. Burman’s songs (e.g. “Chura Liya” and “Choli Ke Peechay Kya Hai”). Entering Bollywood, he produced music for movies such as Kartoos, Monsoon Wedding, and Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani. In sum, he ignited the revolution of remixes in Bollywood music and opened doors for talented Asian artists. Many new DJs have emerged in the remix industry since then and have broken all limits to where remixes can be played played. From a paan shop to lounges, from clubs to five star hotels all we hear is remixed version of songs. Special events are publicized when someone like DJ Suketu or DJ Aqeel is playing in a club. DJs have made their own discos and bars to further expand their business. DJs have gone up from mixing at music in parties and having small businesses of lights and sounds to having concerts world wide and a massive remixing trade industry; which generating almost as much money as Bollywood music its self.
Remixes are the most prominent feature in the changing face of music. The songs which are usually remixed are already big hits. DJs are generally inspired by different actors, singers, and music directors; leading them to remix the music associated with these inspirators. When a DJ is famous enough he then produces his/her own songs. DJ Aqeel, a normal man who was motivated by the idea that DJs could control the public with their music .He believes that a DJ should not have a teacher because the student would only be copying the teacher’s style, causing the student to not grow as an individual. According to him, it is better to learn by yourself and show the world what you have to offer. This is how he started and became famous. He became quite well-known for his album “Return of the Daddy Mix” in 2003, which was his tribute to Kishore Kumar songs. The album featured songs like “Keh Dun Tumhe”, and “Jaanu Meri Jaan”. His album “Ek Haseena Thi” (2001) had amazing songs e.g. “Ek Haseena Thi” and “Tu Tu Hai Wohi” which resembled the “Ketchup Song”. His latest album “The Don” is a very versatile album covering hip hop, R& B, disco, house, techno, and Arabic music. His inspiration came from DJ Pual Van Dyk. The inspiration of his favorite DJ can be seen in his music for “Musafir” 2005 in which most of the songs have trance/techno beats.
DJs are finally getting recognized. Nowadays, at every party, if there is an artist then there will always be a DJ since a DJ can hold the crowd with his/her variety of music. A singer can only sing in one or two languages but a DJ can play all kinds of music and keep every party going. DJ Aqueel plays at different clubs and lounges and on different nights including Velvet Lounge. Besides this he has done a lot of international concerts and has played with famous DJs like Paul Van Dyk and Okanfold. Recently, he has started the “Music Ultimate Café”. This is a café-bar and provides exciting new remixed music.
Lounge music has gotten much popularity in India in the last couple of years or so. With pub culture and discotheques mushrooming in the remotest corners of the country, it is no wonder that a remix of a different kind is being churned out by DJs on a regular basis. Along with DJ Aqueel, if there is another DJ who is fast making mark, it is DJ Suketu, who has recently delivered two consecutive remix hits – “Bine Tere Sanam” and “Wo Lamhe”. Now he is coming out with his latest offering ‘The Bed Lounge” that remixes some of the best love songs from the 70s to the 90s.
Dj Suketu started his career when he was fifteen years old. He started his company “Audio Elite” which initially used to provide lights and DJ at parties; now it also offers DJ training and management in Mumbai. He won the “World DJ Mixing Chapionship” in 2002 and broke through with his album “440Volts” in 2003; which had the first song “Pyar Zindadi Hai” from the movie “Mukadar ka Sikandar”. He decided to start out remixing his favourite actor, Amitab Bachan’s song and made the right choice in doing so. For Suketu, “Remixing is about giving an old song a global feel. If someone like me released a new album with original compositions, no one would listen to it. But since theses are songs that people are already familiar with, they pick up the album”
DJ Suketu owns a music bar named “Seven” in Mumbai, which is named after the seven sins and seven virtues, and is located on the seventh floor. It is a music bar where they promote Indian songs mixed with house music, invite international DJs, and also provide a platform for talented DJs across the country to come and play.
In film music, remixes usually exist to extend the popularity of a song, be it old or new. From Bally Sagoo’s “Chura Liya” to “Ada” from Garam Masala by DJ Aqeel. For me it is an alternate version of a song which is unique from the original. By adding new beats and sometimes new lyrics DJs give the original song a better presentation and make the song their own.
There are 3 types of remixes obvious to the audience:
1) Remixing old songs into new versions
For e.g. Dil Kya Kare Jab Kissi Sai – by DJ Bally Sagoo, Keh Doon Tuhmhein by DJ Aqeel,
2) Remixing already existent songs of a soundtrack to serve as a bonus track
For e.g. “Woh Lamhey” the remix from Zeher by DJ Aqeel
3) Remixing a song to change its structure completely by adding new lyrics to better suit the purpose.
For e.g. – “Bahaa Na Ansoo” Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, “Addat” – which became “Juda Ho Ke Bhi” – in Kalyug
So now, when producers and directors know that their movie’s songs will be remixed, no matter what, they have begun to include the remixed versions as part of their albums (ahead of time); this helps them with their publicity. The success of a remix is dependent on marketing (e.g. posters, pamphlets), and accurate publicity (e.g. concerts and playing in clubs). The release of music videos is also an important ingredient for publicity which helps to attract customers.
Critics say that remixes and DJs are responsible for the loss of traditional Indian flavor. However with passage of time, the media influence has changed the masses’ taste for music. In order to keep up with this changing taste in music, it is vital to meet market demands. “Today Hindi pop is lost in translation and the only thing that is selling is the remixes.” I think it is a miraculous concept and a way of preserving old songs that people would otherwise forget. We should be thankful to people like Bally Sagoo who struggled to evolve the music industry. Music by its nature has to evolve into what we see today.
Edited by Cristop De Caermicheal