DJ Kohra demystifies Intelligent Dance Music trend
Delhi-based Madhav Shorey, popularly known as Kohra, is one of the successful DJs in the country’s underground music scene. Madhav, who also won Techno DJ of the year 2014-15 award, has worked with cutting edge technology to produce raw and ethereal dance music. The 31-year-old DJ also owns and manages Qilla Records, a label set up in 2009, that offers a wide range of genres – deep house techno and minimal music.
Here’s an email interview with the DJ, ahead of his performance in Hyderabad this Saturday.
Tell me a bit about your early influences in music and how you developed your own style?
I started out as a drummer for a few metal and progressive rock bands. My early exposure to electronic music was actually with a lot of breakbeat, Asian underground and drum ‘n bass while I was in my teens. Artistes like LTJ Bukem, The Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, Talvin Singh, Goldie and Roni Size come to mind. In the last decade, I’ve been into the four-to-the-floor vibe and exploring the sounds that I now am playing, producing and putting out on my label - Qilla Records.
You recognise your music quite differently as Intelligent Dance Music (IDM). Can you tell us more about that?
I guess my style spans over a bunch of genres even though it’s within the underground dance music domain. So I guess IDM is an easier way to describe it since it’s not strictly techno or deep house and evolves with time.
What is your production process like? Tell us about your studio setup.
I use Ableton Live as my main sequencer and a mix of hardware and software to be honest. I have a few drum machines (TR-8, MFB Tanzbar) and analogue synths (Arturia Mini Brute & Matrix Brute as well as the Korg Minilogue) that I jam with to create an initial idea. It could be a strong groove or sometimes a subtle melodic hook that eventually helps me build the track.
Since you’re usually travelling for shows, how do you manage to make time to produce/compose music?
It’s honestly a bit tricky, not so much because of the number of days left in the studio after travelling for gigs every weekend but more so because it breaks the flow. I’m now trying to keep my gigs a few weeks apart so I can get a continuous run of a week or 10 days which I find a lot more productive.
How do you manage your career and Qilla Records simultaneously?
Qilla has always been an extension of my audio, visual and experiential sensibilities which makes what we sign and release quite organic. We’re now managing a few core artistes, doing label showcases, international artist tours, programming and of course putting out music so it’s kind of expanding naturally. I also have an incredible team and roster of artists which helps a lot.
What do you think about the underground music scene in India and how it has evolved over the years?
I think it’s evolved a lot in terms of the sheer number of events, artistes touring the country, festivals and gigs. But I think we still have a long way to go in terms of an audience. The crowd in the country is slowly getting very educated which is a great feeling. People aren’t going out to venues randomly but carefully picking the artistes and sound they’d like to follow. This always helps to filter out the crowd and to ensure the gigs are on point with an audience ready to absorb what the artistes are playing.
Who are the artistes you hope to collaborate with soon?
I’d love to work with artistes from various backgrounds and this is something that also evolves with time and preference so it’s a bit hard to say. But, I’ve been a fan of artists like Nils Frahm, Trentmoller, Synkro, Apparat and even Hans Zimmer. It would be a dream to work with them one day.
What can we expect from your appearance at the upcoming Mansion House Party?
I’m looking forward to playing with Jon Rust who’s a great selector as opposed to being a genre-based DJ, so I’m looking forward to throwing in a few surprises to mix things up.
What are your future projects?
I’m working on a bunch of music which should all be coming out starting early next year and I’m working on developing a few collaborative concept events which I started doing this year but want to scale up by next year.
Entry free. 9 pm onwards. At Tabula Rasa, Hyderabad.