'My fans don’t like me, they like my music': Nucleya on his desi heart, global appeal and gearing up for On Tour event
As Nucleya gears up for his pulsating On Tour event, he chats with us over his musical journey and self-discovery
Udyan Sagar aka Nucleya is a bass heavy electronica artiste. The way he popularised bass in India is similar to what Skrillex did for dubstep in the United States and how Diplo and Major Lazer introduced bass to the world. The ravingly popular DJ who recently performed in Hyderabad is now coming with his highly anticipated live concert On Tour.
While Nucleya’s high-octane music is filled with passion and unparalleled energy, he in reality, is this composed, lanky and soft-spoken person who loves to have long insightful conversations. “Surface level conversations are not my thing,” he tells us with candour at the start of our chat.
The thought stands true given how he revels in conversations over music, art and culture. The 43-year-old DJ was born in Agra and raised in Ahmedabad. His upbringing in the Northern cities of India introduced him to classical Hindi music of the ’50s and ’60s.
“The first introduction that I had to music was at home where my dad used to play maestros like Jagjit Singh, Shankar Jaikishan and Mohammed Rafi. Later, as I grew up, I was introduced to English pop music by my elder brother who used to play Michael Jackson and George Michael etc. During my college days, I finally got my ears on electronic music and found it fun! That time inspired me to create something unique by mixing the eclectic genres I’d been exposed to previously.”
Remixes to originals
The artiste co-founded Bandish Projekt in 1998 which was a folk-electronica act. But after working on it for 12 years he went solo to establish himself as Nucleya in 2008. However, he struggled to find an audience. “At that time, people did not have a connect with what I was creating. That’s when I thought about giving remixes a shot as they are popular with the audience and meanwhile could bring my work to some attention. Surprisingly some of my remixes became more popular than even the originals of those songs so I kept doing it for a while until I got my hands on originals. It was from 2013 onwards that I worked more on originals and collaborations over albums and EPs like Koocha Monster, Bass Rani, Raja Baja and more.”
He has also dabbled in film music where we know him from up-beat songs like Laung Gawacha, Let’s Nacho, Paintraa and more. While he enjoys working on films, he agrees that the Hindi music industry is repeating itself, leaving the audience saturated.
“Film music is not made in the same way like it was created decades back where a lot of attention was given to nuances of the notes and art. At that time, creative minds would come together to create something melodiously blissful and never heard before! Now, we see more non-creative people making music for films of a similar kind. It’s becoming mundane. In that context, I like South Indian music and films. They are keen on exploring their culture which they are very proud of. They experiment a lot giving space for creativity, dynamism and authenticity to flourish.”
Desi heart, global appeal
Plugging in Nucleya’s music, one may hear electrifying street style rhythms and desi beats. That connects him to the Indian audience. Moreover, sometimes he selects offbeat locations to launch his music like his 2015 debut album Bass Rani that was launched at a Ganapati visarjan programme on the streets of Mumbai amid the festive fervour! That distinguished him as unabashedly Indian at heart and rooted in the country’s culture.
Likewise, the artiste is also admired abroad. “My fans don’t like me, they like my music. The moment you stop making good stuff, you’d see them rushing to someone else. Presently, I’m just glad for the love.” Revealing some crazy fan moments he tells us, “Once I was having a show in Pune and backstage I saw a photographer with a Nucleya tattoo on his arm (Laughs). Yes, it felt thrilling to see the love but also puts a certain pressure on the artiste in terms of expectations and to shine every time.”
The DJ has entered multiple collabs with singers and songwriters like Shankar Mahadevan, DIVINE and Badshah to name a few. Remembering the most special ones he recalls, “Though it’s very hard to pick, it has to be the track Aaja from Bass Rani where I sampled my son’s voice when he was just three years old. It was very heart-touching(smiles). My work with DIVINE is also very special where we both trusted one another.”
Nucleya’s fans must be awaiting for his new release and he is soon to drop one! However, this time, the artiste will be exploring a new side of himself. “Before the pandemic, my personal and professional life was very turbulent. I could not figure out what was going on so when the lockdown happened I was forced to take a break. And it happened for good! I got the time to spend with my family, started cooking and taking care of my wellbeing. I also got myself into therapy where in the process I started reading about a vast gamut of topics.”
Such developments helped him understand himself on a creative and emotional level. “I think I am a much more self-aware person now and that is reflected in the music I recently created.”
Presently the artiste is based in Goa. On being asked about how his cultural shift from Agra, to Ahmedabad, Delhi, Dubai and now Goa has impacted him he shares, “My music is a summation of all the influences I have had. Main kahin ka nahin hoon, par phir bhi sab Jagah ka hun (I belong nowhere, yet I belong everywhere)”.
On Tour featuring Nucleya will be held on August 27 at Mumbai.