"I’m confident, no matter which part of the world I’m at, I can do good work": DJ Priya Sen
DJ Priya Sen, a prominent name on the EDM circuit, chats with Indulge about challenges women face in the industry, and scope for growth.
How is the scene improving and becoming more accepting, for women DJs? Is it a good time to be a woman DJ in India?
Priya Sen: The scene is pretty plush for women DJs currently. I see more and more girls taking interest in the music business, hopefully for the right reasons. Yes, it is as I see more and more clubs and promoters giving women a platform to showcase their talent. On a personal note, I must add that I should have taken this career up much earlier.
Tell us a little about some of the personal challenges that you had to overcome in your own journey as a DJ. How do you see the future for DJing opening up in the country, and overseas?
Priya Sen: Firstly, I started late in this profession, so that was a massive challenge to overcome, even though I have been in the business as a writer for music magazines, apart from years of programming for nightclubs aside. I had to catch up fast in terms of technology, and also really get my head around to the idea that no matter how difficult it may be, once I knew this is what I wanted to do, I had to focus and be fearless about starting a new career, with all the insecurities that can come about when one is starting out, is if not anything daunting. I’m pretty confident now, no matter which part of the world I’m at, I can do good work.
How have festivals like Sunburn helped in promoting up-and-coming DJs? How important are such platforms for the growth of not just the DJ community, but also of the entire lifestyle?
Priya Sen: There has been some push in this regard, but very minimal. Festivals such as the above still rely on the tried and tested formula of giving bigger DJs the spotlight. Can’t blame them entirely as our audience are still very star driven and lack the enthusiasm of welcoming new talent easily.
Here, I must mention CTRL ALT DANCE spearheaded by Ankytrixx, which just saw its fourth outing in Goa, is doing all the right things to promote different styles of house music and fresh faces through its homegrown initiative. It is imperative that the powers that be do so for the entire dance scene in India to prosper, and that creates balance and harmony overall.
Is there a word of advice, or pointers that you'd like to offer, for organizers of music festivals - perhaps for better artist management, or improved crowd control? How would you like to see things improving?
Priya Sen: For sure, firstly it is galling to see that performers from India are grossly underpaid. On top of that, the payments don’t come on time. Do you think the same treatment would be meted out to one of our Western counterparts? I don’t think so.
Secondly, it is of utmost importance to recognise young talent, to help and nurture them in to realising their musical aspirations and dreams. Also, I’d like to issue an open invitation to organisers to learn the history of the style they have jumped onto because of its popularity, and create or curate line-ups that make sense, instead of lining up names just because they bring in the money.
Do you find yourself faced with concerns about culture, and morality? How do you deal with untoward reactions - do you ignore them, or would you rather encourage positive, meaningful discussion?
Priya Sen: Laughter is the best medicine.
Is it true, in 2018, that there are more opportunities for rising DJs in the circuit outside of India? Do you believe you'd gain more success by hitting the international scene, over Indian circles?
Priya Sen: Yes, of course, it’s true. I am grateful for the recognition, support and name I enjoy here. Having said that, it’s a fact that there’s much more appreciation, musical knowledge and success to be had internationally.
Tell us about your idols. Who do you look up to, for inspiration? How did they help motivate you, in your chosen path as a DJ?
Priya Sen: Ankit Kochar (Ankytrixx) has been an unending source through the way he has charted his career path, and the ethics he applies, never forgetting that he needs to be a good human being first, is inspirational. Hernan Cattaneo is an epitome of a true legend, his humility and encouragement is astonishing, and he taught me to never give up. Then there’s the matter of John Digweed - he is the machine, a cutting edge DJ/producer for more than two decades.
How important is it to you, to play Indian, especially Bollywood tunes?Priya Sen: I don’t play Bollywood.
What are your personal goals, as a DJ, for the new year? Do you have any EPs or albums expected? How much of your focus is likely to be on live gigs, and tours, over studio recordings and album releases?
Priya Sen: I am definitely slated to travel abroad with music related matters. Yes, I have my first original EP titled Stargaze coming out on Amber Long’s label Modern Agenda in March with a bunch of fabulous remixes in the pack. It’s my collaboration with Aman Anand, a talented music-maker. We are also working on a remix for Christ Malvin that’s due for release later this month, and one more with Jiorgio Kioris that comes out in summer. Plus, I am working on a couple of more original tracks, so wish me luck! : )
A word of advice for aspiring DJs? How would you play mentor to some of the new names emerging in the circuit?
Priya Sen: I’d be a bad mentor and just ask everyone to shut up and dance. But yes, I’d like to tell them to get in to this business not because one thinks it’s cool to play music you think is great in the bedroom, that’s not how it works.
Also, the thought process of “Everyone look at me, I have hit big time” by playing 10 gigs, is completely wrong. If you look at the masters, they took years and years of doing amazing work to have come to this point in their career today. If you think you will get or demand it overnight, that’s a no-no. Good work over time and experience is key.