DJ Tuhin Mehta took to the turntable at 12, and is still in love with it. We track his musical journey
As I wait at Leather Bar for Tuhin Mehta to show up, I expect a grungy, long-haired, eye-brow pierced boy to stagger in and greet me saying “Yo man wassup?” Instead, in strides a chirpy, clean-shaven and suave young man with a tattoo on his forearm. He is calm, composed, and to my surprise, declines a drink when the bartender offers him one. “I don't drink, smoke or do drugs. There is no better high than music,” he says.
As he starts discussing music, the calmness fades bringing out a child-like enthusiasm, making his eyes gleam like that of an infant waddling about a toy shop. Clearly, music keeps him going. Which explains, at 13 when most of us are plotting to smuggle our way into discotheques, just to get a feel and show off to our peers about our one night at the club, Tuhin was already frequenting these coveted spots, but only to make revellers dance to his tunes. “I started pretty early because of my love for music. I began playing at friends' parties when I was 12. A year later, I was spinning music at The Grind and After Dark,” he says.
The other places he has played at in Chennai include Leather Bar, Dublin, Speed and Sparks. He now performs all over the country and abroad as well and has graduated from a DJ to an artist. He's a performer and a regular at the Goa Sunburn Festival since its inception three years ago. “It's phenomenal. Feels great to perform for a huge crowd and watch it grow. This time we had over 15,000 people at the festival.”
Tuhin is also known as Brute Force, after the band formed by him and Shane Mendonsa, (musician Loy Mendonsa's son). Together they produce music and have been around for four years. Percussion and bounce is distinctly their style and the energy they add to their tracks sets them apart from others. “It's always a happy moment, when people listen to our music and distinguish and say it's very you.” And what if the crowd isn't enjoying your music? “Then you promptly switch to another genre,” comes the sheepish rejoinder. Apart from composing dance tracks for clubs, Brute Force has also composed the background score for a couple of foreign documentaries.
Coming from a family of jewellers — his father was a trustee of Mehta Jewellers — a career in jewellery seemed the obvious choice. But for somebody deeply rooted in music, gems and stones were hard to focus on. “My parents were okay with my decision thinking it was a passing phase. They didn't realise it was something I would stick to,” Tuhin grins. His parents too loved music and would play records and according to Tuhin, anybody who sees a record spinning will be attracted to it.
He started collecting records from all over the globe. Soon he was into mixing music. “The idea of being able to control the night and give the crowd a good time got me excited,” he says.
At a time when Bollywood dance music was rapidly scaling the charts, he opted for something as diverse as EDM (Electronic Dance Music). Says Tuhin, “There is no challenge in playing popular tracks. With EDM I created a little niche for myself.” Specialising in genres such as Big Room Techno, Tech-Trance, Progressive Tech, Vocal Tech and Tribal Tech, this non-conformist DJ doesn't believe in sticking to a particular style. He takes elements from various genres and strings them together.
Tuhin recently organised Go:Madras along with a couple of others to bring out the spirit of the city, to promote electronic music and to ensure other big cities take notice of Chennai. “People here are discerning listeners. If you are playing an innovative sound, this is the place.”
When he is not at the turntable Tuhin is paintballing. He started Headshot, a paintball facility on OMR. “I used to be a Junior National Champion in Shooting. An accident in 2002 left me with a metal plate in my forearm and I was unable to lift the rifle. Then I tried paintball in Bangalore and realised my aim was still accurate, so I gave it a shot.”
At 29, he says, “I have been deejaying for more than half my life. If you take the music away, there is nothing to fill the void!”