"I took the leap and learnt mixing..."

By Audio Pervert - 12/31/2019

T. Surbhi is an emerging DJ, having made a transition from indian classical music, to playing guitar as a teenager, and now making headway into electronic music. The 28-year old New Delhi based artist, in formation is weaving a positive energy into her performances and narrative. She is searching, however without boundaries. She also wears the traditional indian 'sari' when performing. Not something we ever see in India or outside. Her website reads "in search of the perfect bass-line". We spoke to her about her journey into the world of electronic music and what she perceives about the art of DJing.

What drew you towards electronic music?
Growing up, music was a huge part of my life. I’ve always felt irrationally connected to music that mirrored my emotions in any stage of life - whether it was Nirvana during my rebel phase or Blues when I mellowed out. In retrospect, when I look back at the genres I gravitated to at different points in my life, I realise that I respond to intense music. It was sometime in 2010 when I stumbled across Digitally Imported Label and started listening to electronic music. Some of the earliest artists I remember following are Benny Benassi, Skrillex, Paul van Dyk and Tiesto. I was intrigued by how the bass and drum were manipulated in a song to produce a melody that complimented the vocals.

What lead to you becoming a DJ?
In 2014-2015 I attended many music festivals when the concept was picking up in India and international artists started turning their attention to the country. While I loved the music, what I found extremely fascinating was that the DJ was the centre of attention for a huge crowd, similar to how it would be in any other performance piece. he dynamics between the DJ and the crowd, with the DJ deciding the pulse of the crowd, further led to look at mixing as a DJ as a performance art. My natural affinity towards performing arts, led me to dream of someday being able to play infront of a audience, at a festival. About 6 months ago, in an attempt to pull myself from stagnation, I took the leap and learnt mixing...

You have a vibe or ethos when DJing?
There are two things that I firmly believe in, above all else when DJing (and these have been drawn from how I perceive various DJs) The responsibility of the DJ is to play music that they love and play it as often as possible, so that more people could love it too. A DJ, or any artist for that matter, is more than their art. There is a symbiotic relationship between the art and the artist, and it is a part of that relationship that the audience experiences in a performance/exhibition or in an art piece. A DJ should, therefore, carefully try to curate all aspects of their art, be it the playlist or theatrics!

Your probably the only DJ that wears a sari. It's very neat. Any particular reason why?
Apart from music, my other passion is culture. I’m passionate about Indian textiles and dressforms. Over the last few years I’ve carefully curate a selection of sarees from different parts of the country - southern India, Banaras, Assam to name a few. Growing up, I’ve seen my mother wear the most stunning sarees to work every day. I guess this love for aesthetics and sarees is something that I get from her. It also doesn’t hurt that it is extremely comfortable.

What do you make of the gender imbalance in electronic music, India per se?
The gender imbalance in electronic music is reflective of the gender imbalance across the various fields, across professions and the country at large. Female DJs get paid less, have fewer opportunities and are often not taken seriously. I don’t think we can blame anyone for the situation - is what it is. However, it is very heartening for me to see is that there are a few pioneers, trying and changing the scene - making way for folks like me, who in turn can make way for others who are emerging. Many people in the industry are welcoming and helpful to newcomers and that helps expand the scene quite a bit. Apart from individuals, there are also collectives and media outlets that are making an effort to promote female talent... For example there’s FEMWAV, EQway, Coven Code and the Synthfarm residency that are leading in fostering and promoting female talent.

What's up for the future?
I love mixing music by other creators and I think that is a skill that is amazing. But I also want to be able to produce my own music. I’m planning to learn music production on a DAW in the coming months and enhance my skill further. I want to start producing Drum & Bass soon as well...

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