With over 18 years of Experience and his impeccable mixing skills, Mashter was signed as an Official Dj For Pioneer Dj India in Jan 2016 and was also the winner of the Ultimate DJ Championship organized by Submerge, MTV India and Pioneer DJ India in 2010.
Since then there has been no stopping for him. Mashter has performed at some of the Major festivals like Sunburn, Supersonic, Enchanted Valley Carnival, ADE (India), Tribadelic Festival (Australia), Rainbow Serpent Festival launch party (Australia) just to name a few.
Over The last few Years, Mashter caught everyone’s attention with some major releases on labels like Egothermia records(hungry), Blufin Records (Germany ), Minitech records (Amsterdam), Sounds R Us Recordings ( Amsterdam), Submerge music, Point Blank Records ( UK) & Regular beats records.
Q&A with Mash
What does DJing mean to you?
DJing to me is life. That is what I live and breathe. It is not just my passion but also the career path that I chose. Coming to the technical side of it, DJing, I feel is not just about mixing tracks. It is about layering the sounds to create a story that takes you on a journey.
How and Why did you become a DJ?
Music has been my passion since the early years. This was the early nineties when we only had tape decks. At that time I had no clue that there existed a profession called Djing and the person who plays pre-recorded music is a DJ. During those days if we had a party at home or at a friend’s places, I would just carry two tape decks and all my cassette collections with me. And I played non-stop music. So the inspiration to play dance music was already there since my teen years. Then in 1995, my first visit to Goa and attending the NYE at Hill Top changed everything for me. That was the first time I saw any DJ play. That day I realized this is what I wanna do for the rest of my life. This was also the moment when I reckoned how music can create an emotional connection between two souls and how with just sounds one can create a story that is different for every single person.
When did you start DJing and what was your first big DJ moment?
I started learning Djing in 1997 and then joined a small bar called X’s in Delhi as an assistant DJ in 1997. My first ever big DJ moment came before I was a professional DJ. This was 1996, an era when I played random music from tape decks and used two tape decks to fade in and out of tracks. I was playing at a party and one of my friend’s father who was running a sound and light business in Gurgaon asked me to play for the NYE party at the 32nd Milestone in Gurgaon. I was super excited. I ended up playing for 7 hours just with tapes to a crowd of 1000+. I am still charmed by that night. As it played a major role in deciding to make up my mind to be a Professional DJ.
Are you a Music Producer first or a DJ?
I am a DJ first and then a Music Producer.
How did you get into Music Production?
So DJing is definitely my first love. It helps me channelize my negative energies and convert them into smiles and happy faces on the dance floor. After over 10 years of Djing, getting into music production seemed like the next relevant step to stay strong and for a long term survival in the industry. There were so many tracks I would listen to and play and wished if I could change them to the way I like to play them, edit them, and create my own sounds. Plus I also realize that if I am just DJing then I am just limited to one geographical area. But if I produce music then people would know me across the globe.
What and who were your early passions and influences?
The first bit of electronic music I heard was in 1992 and the tape was called Behind the eye. I was so touched. And I thought to myself that it was possible to communicate through sounds and emotionally touch the souls without having to sing any lyric. From 1995 to 1999, Sasha, John Digweed, and Paul Oakenfold were my biggest influence.
What are some of the main challenges for a DJ / Music Producer?
This profession might seem like a glam, glory, and life’s a big party from the outside. But it requires equal or sometimes more hard work than some other professions. Challenges for a DJ in an Indian scenario are the fact the people still don’t understand the club culture or the meaning of DJ in our country. The majority of people treat DJs like a jukebox constantly pestering him to play what they want to listen rather than what the DJ has to offer. Another disappointing scenario is to see a guest coming to the DJ and asking him to announce his name and play his song. This is pretty common in North India. Considering the current scenario, another biggest challenge for a DJ is his skill set. There are so many DJs both, club and private party, who would go and play music, make money and get girls and alcohol. Not having any equipment at home and lack of practice make them stagnant. Later they complain that there is no growth. Today competition is tough. There are DJs out there who are less than 10 years old but have great control over their skills as they practice, innovate, and master the skill. They will have a raising growth chart as compared to a DJ who works at a bar, plays from 5 pm to 12 am and only the jukebox music and have no motivation or equipment at home to further furnish his skills. Another biggest challenge is self-control to stay away from getting wasted and losing the game. Its an entertainment industry and one can get easily carried away to wine and drugs. I have seen some great DJs losing their lives and carrier because of this. So one has to be very clear where one wants to see himself or herself 10years from now and what they intend to achieve. The biggest challenge for a music producer is the ability and skill to be able to produce music himself. Overcoming this first challenge the next step is to find the right label for the music which is really tough. Every label gets 100s of demos every day so how does one stand out and be chosen. Even though there are thousands of labels out there but its not an easy task to breakthrough.
Another biggest challenge is to get your music heard. I have seen so many great releases that just come and go without being heard as the agency or the label did not have a strong marketing plan and this requires a good investment in promoting through the right media and channels. The job does not finish at just making a track, it actually starts, and that’s where the
social media comes in and if you snooze you lose.
How do you prep for a set?
I go through a pretty long process of sorting music that suits my taste and style. First I get that music and then I sort it on the basis of the musical key, mood, and energy. So once I have done that I arrange the tracks that I would play early, in middle or towards the end of my set. The set time also plays a crucial role in whether I am warming up for another DJ or if I am the main act. Then from the sorted tracks, I choose the ones that are musically on the related scale and can make a story when combined together. So if I have like 400 tracks then maybe 8 or 10 will make it into my final set. The rest of the tracks might be good but not necessary for the story that I want to communicate.
Recommend a DJ which you feel deserves more attention
What’s the difference for you in playing at a gig and playing on the Radio?
Playing a gig means I am playing to a crowd who is expected to dance and I have to develop a connection with them through music to create that energy.
On the radio, people are only listening, they can’t see me or see my body language plus for a radio gig, I don’t expect people to dance so I would use the sound which is a little easy and pleasing to ears and can be heard in any sort of mood. So my radio shows will have a lot of melodic elements to create that connection with the listener.
Can you describe your state of mind during a DJ set? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions?
For me going to a gig and playing is like playing a sport. I get super excited before every gig and each gig, big or small, is equally important for me. I put in the same amount of homework before every gig. I keep my mind open and once I start playing I become part of the party. Whether it was a DJ competition or a festival or any party, I don’t remember being nervous before my set. But I eagerly wait to remove other DJs so that I can start playing. I remember the gigs in Australia where I had smartly changed the timing on the clock in DJ console so that I could get the other DJ to finish his set early, and I could play longer. Lol. My state of mind is very clear. I am very calm and composed when I am in the DJ console. I go to a gig to play music and not get wasted. Though there have been occasions when I lost the grip but never let it show in my DJ set. I believe in my music so strongly that even on a day when I am emotionally or mentally disturbed I still do justice to my music.
What is one track that never gets old for you no matter how many times you hear it?
Delirium Feat. Sara Mclachlan – Silence
R.E.M – Everbody Hurts
What have you learned since you started out as a DJ?
That playing and making music is a never-ending process. Patience is the key to success and never lose hope. One track or one gig can change your life.
Where do you think India stands in the global music scenario and what should we do better to encourage talent?
There is some amazing talent in India nowadays in all genres. Bollywood and Punjabi genres have stormed the world for many years. And now, in the last decade, there have been more and more people producing other forms of electronic music. It is good to see so many Indian acts playing at big festivals and gigs around the world. So definitely India is making the mark in the international scene. But in India itself, a lot needs to be done to streamline the process and make people understand the worth of artists. Even though some of the biggest festivals have stepped into India but entertainment industry here still has a long way to go. One of the reasons for this is the casual outlook of the majority of people. But this is slowly changing with more
and more parties, festivals, dance events, conferences, and other stuff happening on a regular basis.
What does the future look like for you?
The past and present have been awesome. I have been doing this for over 20 years now and I still feel as excited to get on the stage as I did on the first gig. As far as the future is concerned I understand I am a veteran now and a lot of new young talent is
coming. But I am not in this industry to compete. I just wanna play music and keep playing for as long as I can. However, releasing my own album is definitely what I wanna do soon.
What advice will you give to aspiring DJs and Music Producers?
Hard work and patience is the key. Keep working as hard as you can. Learn the skill, practice the skill on an everyday basis, and always remember, this is your passion but to make it a profession you have to sacrifice a lot and keep learning. Stay up to date with technology, music, and what’s happing around the world in the music industry. Know your strengths, work on your weakness, grab every opportunity you can and the only way to avoid threats is to be the best in what you do.