Music

For the love of Kashmir

ROOT CAUSE Niles Hollowell Dhar

ROOT CAUSE Niles Hollowell Dhar   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

On a multi-city tour to India, DJ KSHMR says past does make an impact on future

Speaking to Niles Hollowell-Dhar on a long distance call to California, you realise how straightforward this Indo-American DJ, record producer and musician is. A known entity at one of India’s biggest music festival, Sunburn, he is currently on a tour to India with performances in Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Mumbai.

Niles, better known as KSHMR, speaks from the heart about his love for Kashmir “as I have my roots there”, and hence justifies his pseudonym. With several problems plaguing the Valley, did he never face problems with this name? He says, “On the contrary, despite all disturbances, the people of Kashmir celebrate life”, and as for him, he associates only beauty, greenery and mountains with Kashmir that is home to him.

On how people react to his name in other countries, Niles says, “Reactions depend on my music and though I do receive certain comments on the YouTube saying you don’t know what’s going on there but otherwise I don’t think people feel offended. I remain neutral and personally do not want people to suffer, kill or hold prejudices”.

Does this in any way make his music political? “I only try to convey a message. In my music video from Jammu, a child sees his mother killed and finds shelter with the terrorists and trains to be one. He decides to kill for them but at the last minute he does not. There is a positive impact of the video. Apart from this, there is nothing political about my music.” Talking about inspiration, he states, “The inspiration stems from the stories I’ve read and from my philosophy that the past does make an impact on our future; we were not born yesterday.” A known name in the international EDM scene, Niles has had associations with The Cataracs, Brassjackers, R3hab, Tiesto, Carnage, Tigerlily, and many more. He loves Indian music and its instruments and “that’s what makes it interesting,” he says. Set to donate the proceeds of his Delhi charity event to CRY, Niles goes on to talk about his collaborations with Indian artists, his fascination for everything Indian and the Beatles having been his greatest influence. Excerpts:

You've recently collaborated with Sonu Nigam. How was the experience?

Yes, I recently collaborated with Sonu for a single titled “Underwater”. It was pleasure working with him; quite a humbling experience for me. Sonu is my grandpa’s favourite and initially all I wanted was to take my grandpa to meet Sonu. And we have a common friend who made the meeting possible and in the process we discussed work and hence the collaboration came into being. It is indeed a very special song. Sonu is one of the kindest people I have worked with.

Tell us about Kashmiri influence in your music

My grandparents are Kashmiris. I am half-Indian and I carry my surname Dhar with immense pride. My heritage is so rich and so impactful and it makes me really proud when my heritage reflects in my music. Whoever listens to my music, they come and tell me that it has my heritage written all over it. Kashmir has a very big role to play in KSHMR's life and I am ready to give back in anyway and every way. I am performing at the Sunburn arena in India in six cities and I intend to take some time out and visit Kashmir and spend some time out there and meet my people.

What made you title the event 'Karma'? Your label is called 'Dharma Worldwide'.

The show is called Karma because everybody who buys a ticket not only receives access to the show but also gives access to hope for children with the help of CRY. Everything Indian fascinates me. I'm half Indian and very proud. Indian names, Indian food, Indian audience's, Indian heritage and culture - I'm a fan of all of this.

How different is the experience of performing in India as compared to other countries?

When I performed at Sunburn Festival in Goa last year, it was my first show in India. What a fantastic concert that was! I still reminisce that day and it was one of the best concerts of my life and I had brought my grandfather up on stage and to share that moment with him was such a heart warming experience.

I wanted to do a solo tour of India for the longest time. This time I have prepared a special set for my Indian audiences and I am going to do things that I would never do anywhere else.

Tell us about musicians that have influenced you?

I am a big big fan of The Beatles. The Beatles were very well travelled and that reflects in the kind of music they made, some of their songs had Indian influence as well. They were amazing and when I say that I mean it as an understatement. I draw a lot of inspiration from their style of making music. I always strive to inculcate various cultures in my style of music. I am also a fan of composer Hans Zimmer who evokes such emotions in the listener, it’s goosebump inducing.

Other Indian artists you would like to collaborate with?

A. R. Rahman, undoubtedly. He is such a magnanimous personality, he is world renowned and everyone loves him. I hope it happens soon.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 11:45:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/for-the-love-of-kashmir/article19895045.ece

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