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All Hands off Deck: DJs and producers forming electronic music bands this season

Taking a break from constantly playing for the dance floor, DJs and producers are forming electronic music bands this season.

Written by Kevin Lobo | New Delhi |
Updated: September 29, 2014 12:21:43 pm
Dualist Inquiry Band played at NH7 Weekender last year. Dualist Inquiry Band played at NH7 Weekender last year.

In June last year, Sahej Bakshi flew Sanaya Ardeshir aka Sandunes and Jivraj “Jiver” Singh of Pinknoise fame to Delhi. The trio shut themselves in a jam studio for three days — Ardeshir took over synths and Jiver was on percussions — stripping down Bakshi’s electronic music tracks. By the end of it, Bakshi launched his project, Dualist Inquiry Band. The idea was to adapt his music to a live setting.

“It was as simple as looking at three ingredients in the kitchen, and making from them the most obvious dish that comes to mind. I have been a guitarist for the past decade, but I took a break from it for two years when I discovered electronic music,” says Bakshi, who has been producing electronic music solo for the past four years.

Traditionally, DJing has been a reflection of an artiste’s individuality — orchestrating or being a conduit (at a party) for beats that want to make people move. In the past year alone, few DJs are experimenting with involving creative energies of fellow artistes.

“When you are producing solo music, you have a vision for a track and nothing can distract you from it. Once you involve other people, however, it’s like a baby learning to communicate,” says Ardeshir, who will debut her live project, Sandunes Ensemble at the Pune edition of this year’s NH7 Weekender in November.

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The Sandunes Ensemble is a product of Krunk All Stars, where three electronic music acts from the artiste booking agency Krunk combined forces with a guest musician and played live shows last year. Another artiste who was part of that ensemble, Aditya Ashok aka Ox7gen, will also debut his live electronic music act at NH7 Weekender in Pune.

“I have always wanted to play my music live,” says Ashok, who is known for his liquid drum ‘n’ bass sets. “Last year, it was an experiment to see how all the different elements in the music fit in. I had a lot of ideas that I now, with time on my hands, will try and change.” Progressive house veterans Midival Punditz have also performed live sets in the past and one half of the group, Gaurav Raina, is currently on tour for the launch of his solo album Grey to Silver. Raina’s alter ego Grain features vocalists and multiple sessions musicians.

The creative process for these DJs going live has a pattern. They have a backing track, which plays parts of compositions that cannot be rendered live. From the rest of the arrangement, certain elements are muted and the musicians they are collaborating with are asked to interpret those.

Rohan Hastak, who debuted with the live band version of his solo act Big City Harmonics at the National Centre for Performing Arts in June this year, is a little wary of the trend. “I don’t want to be a live band if I am going to take over people’s parts and tell them exactly what to do. I’d like to start a band where everybody has a say in the sound,” says Hastak.

For Ashok, who plays drums with Shaa’ir + Func, his live band ends the DJ versus live music argument. “I have played drums, which is exciting in itself. In DJ sets, the interaction with the audience is a different high altogether. With the band, I am trying to merge both these vibes,” he says.

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