PEOPLE DJ Sultan, who played recently at the Lalit Ashok, thinks the 11.30 deadline may not be that bad after all; at least he gets to sleep at midnight, he says
Ossama Al Sarraf – also known as DJ Sultan – is a recurring favourite on the Indian party scene: his association with electronic dance music collective Submerge has helped. He’s lived in countries such as Kuwait, Cyprus, Egypt and Canada; he’s currently settled in Los Angeles. As part of the Sultan+ Shepard DJ duo, he’s released a bunch of vocal-heavy tracks, collaborating with vocalists such as Nadia Ali, Nelly Furtado and even Madonna (check out ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’). In Bangalore recently to play alongside Ned Shepard at the Lalit Ashok, DJ Sultan spoke over phone on his thoughts on clubbing in India, and the flipside of the 11.30 deadline.
Is mainstream success such as yours a move away from electronic dance music’s underground origins?
No, I think it’s helped it a lot; our success has exposed dance music a lot more than ever. There’s still an underground scene. But there is a big divide between the commercial scene and the underground techno scene. We’ve taken the mainstream approach, and it’s been great.
Why did you decide to take the mainstream approach?
It was a natural progression. Both Ned and I are musicians. We love making real songs, vocals and music is what we love to do.
What do you think of the clubbing hours in India?
It’s the only place in the world we play so early in the evenings. But there’s something really nice about coming home at midnight and getting a proper night’s sleep!
But why is clubbing necessary at all?
I think in general nightlife is important for a city. For instance, I grew up knowing that I was going to go out to a club around 11 or 12 o’ clock at night, and come back at 3 in the morning. It’s what we learned and were used to, growing up, nothing more than that.
Apart from getting to sleep by midnight, how is playing in India different from your other international gigs?
I think at this point India is just as good as the United States, which is the biggest market right now. The enthusiasm here from the 18 to 20-year-olds who come to club is great. And it’s because of the exposure dance music has had in the mainstream. A lot of people are educated in their music – they know the songs, they know what they want, they know their DJs.