Ranj Kaler’s name has been spreading at a rapid pace recently, his emotional, deep and driving productions capturing the attention of premier labels like Affiliate, Capital Heaven, Stripped Recordings, Emotional Content Recordings, and more. It’s an impressive ever-growing list, made even more so by the fact that he just started producing in March 2020 when the clubs closed and he needed a creative outlet for his lifelong love of music. It’s not a surprise that he took so naturally to the studio however, his passion for DJing having been ingrained in his soul for many years, and his understanding of what matters to a crowd coming naturally to him.
Starting DJing in 1986, playing at various Rank Leisure venues in South London and Surrey, in 1992 he went on to be resident DJ at European Leisure’s hugely successful Pure nights in St Albans until 1996, which led to playing at various nights at Ministry Of Sound, Turnmills, Bagley’s, EC1 club, Club UK and The Cross. Alongside, he also ran Creative Sounds record shop in Kingston Surrey. Even through all this time, it’s evident that his love has never wavered. As he shares, “My love of music and my desire to share my love of music is what keeps me going. I still get the same goose bumps now as I did then when I hear something that takes my breathe away and get that same buzz when I see other people’s reactions to it.”
Featured as Artist of the Week on 2/2/22 [listen now] FRISKY listeners got a feel for this deep love and a taste of Ranj’s time-tested approach to DJing. Now you’ll be able to experience it every month starting on April 8th @ 1PM EST [convert timezone], or listen on demand with FRISKY Premium any time. Get to know Ranj Kaler before we get started:
I’d love to hear about your experience DJing in the mid 80’s – how did you first get started?
Music wasn’t a big part of my home life but at school and knocking around my mates the Electro albums by Streetsounds were played everywhere. My mate John who lived down the road from me, and was a few years older, had a couple of decks and the actually 12’s of stuff like Planet Rock Kraftwerk and The Yellow Magic Orchestra. I used to watch him mix stuff together in wonder. After a period of begging my mother, she bought me my very own pair of 1210’s for my 13th birthday, which I still use.
What was your music style when you first began and how did that evolve? What has always the remained the same when it comes to the music you love?
When I started actually Djing in clubs it was mixed genre. You played a bit of everything but I was always pushing the underground sound though. I remember getting told off for playing Adonis No Way Back and Charles B Lack Of Love but that all changed however when I played Inner City Big Fun just as it came out. Again I got told off but then a week or two later it was the biggest of the club and after that I got left alone.
I’ve always been attracted to songs with a touch of melancholy and that’s still the case now, The multi genre ethos has stayed with me too. As long as the vibe is right and will make you shake your hips I’ll play it.
As you have been riding along with the evolution of electronic music for decades in one of the most influential dance music cities, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve experienced? Do you think there was a “golden era” for the scene?
Good question. I think there’s been a few golden areas. We are definitely in one now. Some of the music at the moment is so good and the other, commercial stuff is now classed as pop. 1994 to 1997 was a great time for music. The producers and labels had found their feet and the majors were yet to infect the scene with their commercialism. Also when genres really kicked in and things started to sound the same that was a huge change to the scene. And in my opinion not a good change.
What do you think has kept you involved and excited about electronic music over the years?
My love of music and my desire to share my love of music is what keeps me going. I still get the same goose bumps now as I did then when I hear something that takes my breathe away and get that same buzz when I see other people’s reactions to it.
What are your goals as a DJ? What do you think makes for an exceptional DJ?
It’s all about giving people a good time at the end of the day. The most important skill for a DJ is too read the crowd. You have to be able to adapt to any situation and have the music to allow that. Someone that can’t mix but can read a crowd will give their floor a much better time than the best mixer with a pre prepared set. Knowing the energy levels of all the songs you play is important to keep that momentum on the dancefloor. As for my goals, as long as I can see a sea of smiling, sweaty faces on my dancefloor I’m happy.
You mention that you recently started producing during the pandemic, and yet you’ve already been establishing a solid catalog of tracks on huge labels. How has the experience as producer been for you so far?
I’m as shocked as anyone how things are developing. It’s only because Ableton is so addictive. My intention was never to release music. When the clubs closed back in March 2020 I needed a creative outlet. The online/Twitch thing never floated my boat so I decided to teach myself. A couple of months later I made a track that I sent to my friend Shawn just for a bit of feedback. Next thing I know I had a label messaging me asking to sign it. Shocked is an understatement. Things have just rolled from there. As my productions got better I started sending demos and the rest is history. Still, today, every project I start I don’t see it as making a track. It’s just another lesson in Ableton as literally everyday I’m learning something new. I’ll start a project and I will focus on a particular aspect of the programme that I’m not familiar with. Usually a track forms and I will take it from there and try and finish it to a full track.
I love your unique deep style with driving breaks and experimental elements – what do you think is the key to establishing a sound of your own that stands out among the crowd?
It’s very simple. Let you heart choose the music not your head. Too many people are playing tracks or even a whole style they don’t really like because it’s the popular thing to do. Because it’s the big sound at the moment. Because they think if they play just like their favourite DJ’s they will have a bigger chance of playing in front of a million people. When you start playing from your heart with the music you truly love, your own authentic style forms naturally. Yes you may not get your headliner set at Tomorrowland but I guarantee the times you will play you will find some much more rewarding. Not financially however.
What would you like to tell listeners about your new show on FRISKY? What are you looking forward to about the show?
I’m looking forward to showcasing my different musical moods. Sometimes my sets are cool, classy and laidback and sometimes it could be twisted and driving.. It will always have that melancholy feel to it. I’m not a fan of music that’s too dark either so you’ll also hear uplifting soundscapes with a groove to it with whatever I do.
What was your thought behind the Kaleidoscope name?
It’s a word I’ve always liked and thought it’s a great name to use. Simple as that.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the FRISKY family?
Apart from my paypal adresss ha ha. I hope you enjoy my sets. And thank you.