Sanjay Dutta and Beat2 go deep as they cover all edges of the music
We at Frisky met the Coalition Music boys to chat about their radio show Origin, their musical future, to what’s exciting them in technology, and to discuss their clubbing, DJing and music ethics.
Here’s an exclusive with India’s foremost legend in dance music DJ Sanjay Dutta and Beat2 whose roots are seeped in a progressive language, with his work life dedicated to the label and its brand realization. Together they are packing a big punch, here’s how…
Hi Sanjay and Beat2, great to have you on Frisky.
@Sanjay I remember a time when you were moping about with cassettes to the golden years of being a legendary vinyl pusher on to the advent of CDs and there-after to just pocketing your pen drives and getting on with it. Has it been easy to keep up with the times, are you happy with the technology advance overall?
SD – I strongly believe in simplicity. I like to keep things real. If the available technology makes life simpler then I will embrace it. However, I believe technology has a price to pay in many ways. Being a person of the 80s and 90s I have a certain mindset. Playing music that makes me happy is what I have always done and will continue doing. If that’s not happening then I rather stop DJing. At the moment, I am carrying my music in a pair of pen drives and that’s making my life simpler so yes I am happy with the technology I am using.
@Beat2 being a tech freak, do you think the newer mediums of DJing does make things smoother, but would it be fair to say, that it also takes away from a classical approach to making DJ sets robotic and clinical?
AB – Thanks for bringing this up. People forget it’s a tool and not the art, that finding music which touches ones heart, yet makes you dance and sequence it to create a new story every time. There are new tools developed as we speak for making it convenient, but I would blame people for being LAZY and not the tool. Tools will keep coming to enhance your art but the moment you let the tool become your ART is when it becomes robotic and clinical. People are misled to believe they are DJs due to these tools and yes it brings the question of whether the classical way was better. Very simple a Ferrari doesn’t make you Michael Schumacher; similarly high end DJ gears won’t make you a good DJ.
@Beat2 It’s fair to say that Sanjay Dutta has been one of your biggest influences, who are the others?
AB – Sasha, John Digweed, Nick Warren, Hernan Cattaneo, Paul Van Dyk and Paul Oakenfold have had a serious impact on my mind over the years.
@Sanjay if you were to choose a DJ, whose shoes you can fill in, who would it be and why?
SD – John Digweed is the man and Guy J the new prince. Digweed, Sasha, Nick Warren and Dave Seaman are some of the guys who have shaped the underground scene from the early days and they continue to push the envelope. Guy J is a super creator of soundscapes. He knows music like very few do and a rare gem who can produce and DJ with equal power.
Nowadays youngsters seem to be getting in to the music profession for all the wrong reasons, any advice to aspiring DJs to keeping it together for all the right ones?
SD – The trouble is not with the DJs, it’s with the perception of the crowd. I personally don’t see many true DJs emerging from the current crop of youngsters. Nowadays you have auto mixing machines, gadgets and software so what are we talking about? Barring a few serious kids, most of these guys/girls do not have a clue about Djing.
Coming from two diametrically different backgrounds in terms of music culture and cities, while Sanjay you are from Kolkata and Beat2 from Mumbai, do you think noncommercial dance music was easy to advocate in your respective worlds and how did you go about sticking to your guns to what you are today?
AB – Mumbai is very well known for Indian movie music (better known as Bollywood) which dominated the club scenes when I started off. At the same time the city had a small but underground scene brewing as well. The issue was consistency in promoting it. There was a time when (clubs & promoters) had no choice and gave into the pressure of hosting commercial music than standing by non-commercial dance music. I realized long back if I had to push this music further, I would have to keep at it. I would say, I worked hard to gain trust from the community of people who like this music and used my platform (my residencies) to push these sounds. It’s easy to play it for the audience which is already there and from thereon building on the numbers was the extra challenge.
SD – Since the time I gave up being part of club residencies in 2002-03, I stopped playing commercial music completely. Kolkata clubbers appreciated what I was doing then and that helped in sticking to my guns. Also the recognition from other cities was very helpful and it encouraged me to continue in the style I chose to play. I have been lucky I guess.
How did you guys meet and what was the common force that made you think of Coalition Music?
SD – I like the fact that I met Beat2 through you Priya, and after years, you are actually the one to grill us both. I recall him being a sweet unassuming DJ at a local Mumbai hot spot back then, and I remember you introducing us. We have come to be good friends. It’s been a long, fruitful journey, and then partnering with him for Coalition just seemed to be the thing to do. The saga continues.
AB – I got to know him more when he shifted base to Mumbai for some years back and have fond memories, agree Priya? Aside from hearing one of his mixed set, I heard him play at a club as a guest DJ, and was immediately entranced. There after he heard one of my sets and he invited me to play at a classic Trance night, where we hit it off real well. I would say it was pretty organic. All of it resulted in our electronic nights called – Evolve where I recall you contributed too Priya. We got together to focus our energies to underground music, to promote it.
The idea was very simple yet profound – consistently deliver quality electronic music.
@Sanjay haha here’s an interesting one for you, the oft repeated subject about a performer doesn’t necessarily have to be a producer to be a good DJ and vice versa sometimes a DJ doesn’t necessarily maketh or have the qualities to be a producer, your thoughts…
SD – I can name only a few producers who have made me dance. It is on very rare occasion that a studio genius can crack a dance floor. Most producers are very average DJs. And honestly a good DJ doesn’t always make a great producer. I believe they are separate areas of expertise but who cares these days? But on rare cases, some of them excel in both areas.
@Beat2 Do you enjoy the process of being a producer more or DJing?
AB – It’s a seesaw kind of thing for me- while I’m DJing the experience and feedback from the dance floor excites and encourages me to go to the studio. Once I have something special ready, it excites me to unleash it to the crowd on the dance floor.
At this point I have stuck a balance with both the processes, it’s kind of 360 degree approach and very spiritual.
@Beat2 what’s your studio setup comprise of?
AB – My studio setup is an iMac, Macbook Pro, running Logic & Ableton along with Nord Rack, Native Instruments Maschine Studio, Akai Midi keyboard, Focal monitoring system, Apogee Soundcard, loads of Plugins and a customized 32band Equaliser which is my secret weapon.
@Beat2 what’s exciting you in tech gear, anything you want to lay your hands on?
AB – At the moment the Native Instrument’s Jam for the studio and Pioneer’s DJ TORIAZ SP-16 Sampler along with Richie Hawtin’s PLAY differently MODEL 1 mixer.
@Sanjay any plans for you to get stuck in a studio sometime in the future?
SD – I have recently set up a studio. It’s very new and modest but yes, I will be taking out time for it and working toward releasing my own music soon.
@Sanjay this year we see you putting in an appearance for Modern Agenda label night at ADE, excited with that?
SD – I am very excited as this is hosted by Amber long. She is such an amazing person. I actually can’t wait to get on with it.
@Sanjay Do you plan your DJ sets or are you kind to go on the fly?
SD – I usually have a startup plan with options. Either starts with a lot of energy or from scratch with a long, easy intro (depending upon what the vibe of the gathering I am playing at). Once I am into the 4th or 5th track then I let my instincts take control. It’s always interesting to steer a ship into unknown territories and surprise the audience.
Which is your favorite club and why?
SD – I have been asked this question many times and my answer has been the same always. Any club where I have had a great audience dancing their socks off is my favorite club. If the crowd is dancing it means that everything is alright i.e. the sound, the vibe, the energy etc. It’s the vibe and energy that matters. Some of the best looking clubs have disappointed me to be frank.
AB – Poison had this massive super club feel with the console situated on a height and you could control the vibe in a very effective manner. Secondly Royalty which has a separate space called The Red Room it’s an intimate setup.
My favorite club is Fabric, UK.
As Coalition Music you guys host Origins, your monthly show on Frisky Radio, how do you go about making these mixes, what kind of vibe do you two try to achieve and what styles are you generally propagating?
SD – We both enjoy the progressive, Techy space. Our idea was to propagate these sounds as we already had a built in audience through-out India. We were very excited when the opportunity came to us from Frisky Radio for a monthly show. We are able to reach to a wider audience globally now. Both of us present a 1 hour set each.
AB – Both have faith in each other choice and let that guide us. I have access to a lot of unreleased music and get sent a lot of promos from dear friends who are running labels. I try to find the best ones which appeal to me and sound which pushes Coalition Music further. It’s also very important to keep in mind the time a radio show is airing at. I am always excited and on my feet to constantly to deliver a new story every month, plus I get to feature my own productions.
@Beat2 you recently released – “Sublime Memories” part of a Sudbeat compilation, and also through Asymmetric, plus the EP on BC2 Records, it’s kinda obvious, that your musical leanings are toward Progressive House. Ever thought of branching out and doing another genre?
AB – Well, I keep my mind open to just producing music, it’s never intended to fall into a particular genre. At this point everything coming out of me has a progressive feel to it but I’m not limiting my options.
I will make keep making music as it comes.
How’s Coalition Music shaping up as a record label, happy with the way things are set up for now and what plans for the next six months?
SD – It is still to gain full momentum but we have had a start. Beat2 is handling most of the label work and in due course, the label will see some fresh releases soon.
AB – As a label I would say we are pretty young. We have some excellent releases from young producers Farhan, Nipun and me in the coming months. Back in India, we will be working on our label nights soon, where we look at bringing down some of our friends from the international fraternity.
@Beat2 Where do see yourself in your personal career and the label in the near future, and happy with Sanjay along-side you for this journey?
AB – My tracks have been receiving excellent feedback from the likes of Hernan Cattaneo, Guy Mantzur, Sahar Z, Darin Epsilon, Lonya to name some. I am currently also setting up my studio in London and will be spending fixed amounts of time in a year to be able to explore and expand my music in Europe and other parts. My focus is to produce good music and I will continue to design events to promote and bring in new talent as and when I can back in India as well.
To do all this, I couldn’t have asked for a better partner, family, friend and mentor like Sanjay Dutta.
So yes, my personal career and label’s future is looking promising with all the support I have from the music fraternity worldwide.
Thanks to both of you for talking to us at Frisky.
You can tune in to the next episode of Origin – 13th October 2016 @ 8AM EST [convert timezone]. In the mean time, catch up with their back catalog now: