They are the toast of the city's party circuit. Ace turntablists Kunal Bajaj, Vijay Chawla and Shiv Gupta on music and more
Spinning discs is a heady pursuit. Not only does it confer rock star status, it pays well too. Reasons enough for some smart young men with an ear for music to take to the turn table. But if you've always viewed with suspicion the need for a swaying self-stylised Paul van Dyk (German Grammy Award–winning Electronic Dance Music DJ,) at every Chennai nightclub — running through a stack of discs can't be all that tough — think again. Because what they play also has the power to determine the success of a club, and their own careers.
Kunal Bajaj, Vijay Chawla and Shiv Gupta are freelance Disc Jockeys. What unites them, aside from a common train of exotic pulsating beats is an attraction towards new trends and technology, sound cards, and a shared grouse for the early curfew enforced on Chennai hangouts. This is what they think of the city's music scene: the euphoric high octaves of global music awareness and the rapid increase in popularity of Bollywood chartbusters that is drawing crowds — with or without Sheila and Munni. More on the three…
Who: Shiv Gupta, also known as Shiva Moon.
Specialises in: Tech House, Techno Trance, Progressive Trance
Played at: Paradiso and The 9 Bar in Goa is where he first played. Chennai party-goers have seen him play at Blend, Dublin, Pasha and Leather Bar among others. Shiv travels extensively on work and has also churned out music at Zenzi Mills and Blue Frog in Mumbai, Curlies, West End, Shore Bar, Primrose, Blue Waves, Liquid Sky in Goa, and performed gigs in Munich, Frankfurt, Avignon, Los Angeles and Cancun.
Status update: A national-level golfer, Shiv got into a college in Malibu on a golf quota. “I was into heavy metal. But in Los Angeles I watched Sasha, Chemical Brothers, Infected Mushroom and that's how I got interested in Electro,” he says. Having played at a few house parties abroad, he seriously took to the console after attending an EDM (Electronic Dance Music) party in Goa. “Partying outdoors is a much better experience than indoors. And I feel the indoors don't do justice to my music,” says the 31-year-old DJ, who has been instrumental in setting up the GO:MADras festival. “I also have my own record label Rudraksh Records since 2006, which has released two compilations internationally — VA Ahimsa and VA Deep Fried — featuring top international artists from the Trance scene. Having released his first single on Dacru Records (Belgium) in 2008, he is now looking forward to releasing his first album and EP this year.
USP: High energy dance music
What's spinning: Shiva Moon vs. AFM, a track that he created along with his friend.
Who: Vijay Chawla
Specialises in: Blend of Deep House, Tech House and Techno.
Played at: Numerous pubs across Chennai, including Bike ‘n' Barrel, where he debuted in 2003 and Speed, which had him as its resident DJ for five years. Spins music across the country, right from Zenzi Mills, Blue Frog, Wink and Firangipani in Mumbai; to Gaia, One Lounge, Stone Water Grill in Pune, and Fuga, The Beach, Sutra Hint in Bangalore. Also performed at the Goa Sunburn Festival in 2009.
Status update: “I used to collect a lot of music and before I knew it I was playing at parties. I have no musical background, nor have I learned to play any instrument. I just go by ear. And that's why sometimes my biggest fear is, what if I go deaf?” he grins. The 27-year-old was lucky to get a break in Kollywood. He composed the remix version of the title track for the film “VA Quarter Cutting”. “It's called ‘The Quarter Song' and is an up tempo Club Mix,” Vijay adds. His other memorable moments include being the First Runner-up for Cocoon Records' (one of the acclaimed record labels in Germany) Remix Competition on the Beatport website for remixing Guy Gerber's ‘Timing'; and making it to the final six for remixing Nadia Ali's track ‘Love Story', for the Sunburn 2010 Remix Competition. The stylish DJ is now busy working on his first EDM album.
USP: Groovy and energetic
What's spinning: Vinayaka – ‘Confuse into,' that's been remixed by him.
Who: Kunal Bajaj
Specialises in: Bollywood music and Electronic
Played at: Pasha, Dublin, Karmaa Lounge in Chennai, Agni in Delhi, Scarlet in Hyderabad, Taj Samudra in Colombo.
Status update: He can safely be credited for making Bollywood music popular in Chennai. “When I started playing in 1999, people mocked because I played Hindi music. But now it's so much in demand that at every party at least 10-12 tracks are Bollywood numbers. With an experience of 11 years in the industry, Kunal has seen a lot of DJs coming into the scene. So, what's the competition like? “There is tremendous competition and it is healthy. It has made me grow,” says the calm turntablist.
Kunal is currently working on a remix album. So what does he do when he is not busy mixing beats? “I have my own audio visual rental company, I am into celebrity management apart from trying my hand at production,” he says.
USP: Zor ka jhatka
What's spinning: “People just can't get enough of Sheila, can they?” he asks.