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Ever considered DJing as a career?
Abhilasha Ojha |
December 09, 2005
In India, the state of disc jockeying is deplorable. In the beginning, there's no respect, no money and no exposure." This straight-from-the-heart statement comes from 22-year-old Ihmsen, a disc jockey by profession for the past eight years.
He decided to launch his own school for aspiring DJs last year. "It's time to prepare aspiring DJs and give them the real picture," he explains. The school has been launched in partnership with DJ Shane Mendonsa, son of musician Loy Mendonsa -- of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy fame.
Beat Mappers had a very slow start last year, but has picked through word-of-mouth in the last four months.
While the duo are getting a good response to their DJ school -- nearly 20 students enrol every month for the 30-day course -- they've decided to move to a better location in Bandra (suburban Mumbai) from Thane (the district adjoining Mumbai) where their school is currently located. What's more, they've also decided to launch their own music label in collaboration with Ihmsen's friend, Tuheen, also a DJ by profession.
The label will be launched formally in January, with the release of their house music album. "We're looking at the international market because our kind of music will never find a decent release in India," Shane answers frankly. They're in talks with a few Indian music companies with whom they'll set up a distribution network, he says.
Sony Music, for instance, has been encouraging newer music labels to get noticed and, in the past, had tied up with Phat Phish records to distribute Rabbi's self-titled album. Similarly, House of Music partnered with Sa Re Ga Ma HMV to distribute international artistes, some of whom were even underground and lounge artistes.
"This is just the beginning," promises Shane. He feels "music from India needs to reach out to the global market. There's no dearth of talent and our label will only showcase a newer breed of artistes."
The DJ school too, according to Ihmsen, was started with the aim to give a realistic picture to students. "Most people," says Ihmsen, "enter the profession thinking it's all about glamour and fun. While that's true to an extent, the hard fact is that in the beginning no one can earn more than Rs 3,000 per month."
Gradually, however, one can earn anywhere between Rs 25,000 per gig or even Rs 5 lakh for playing at a party. At Beat Mappers, all the students are taken to gigs and are encouraged to play at parties and shows. "It can't be theoretical," says Ihmsen. "Unlike other DJs who've started similar schools and chart out a three-month long course, our course only lasts for one month."
That could be the clincher. While most of the schools in Mumbai charge anywhere between Rs 30,000-40,000, Beat Mappers charges Rs 15,000 for a month. "It's one day of theory after which we take our students for live acts and train them on the job." The duo has invested nearly Rs 2.5 lakh on getting state-of-the-art equipment for the school. They claim to have recovered their money within a year.
They also say they've posted a profit of nearly Rs 5 lakh that they've pumped back into the school by getting more gear. "Technology moves at an amazing pace and we need to constantly upgrade our equipment," explains Ihmsen.
Then, there are live gigs and shows -- they've partnered with VJ Nikhil Chinappa who organises parties and shows -- that has given them courage to launch their own label and move their school to a better locality.
"We want to give our kind of music a fair chance in a country where nothing but Bollywood sells," remarks Shane.
Know your music
"Music," explains DJ Ihmsen, is based on the Beats Per Minute (BPM) formatLounge: Anywhere between 110-125 BPM. Makes use of electronic sounds that is mellow but uplifting in nature. Most of the Buddha Bar music one hears is lounge music. Artiste Talvin Singh creates a lot of lounge music too.
House Music: This music is anywhere between 125-135 BPM. A lot of natural elements like percussions are used, the bass line is catchy and doesn't sound repetitive like trance. "It's clean music with attention given to finer details," he says.
Trance: This kind of music makes use of synthesised, electronic sound. The pattern may sound repetitive and is anywhere between 135-145 BPM.
Underground: It's a trend yet to pick up in India but abroad the concept has been very successful. Any song that isn't released commercially but is only played in clubs and discs is underground.