Born and raised in Goa, Anish Sood is an acclaimed DJ and music producer who is known as one of the pioneers of India’s homegrown dance music industry. The artiste started composing music when he was 16, with no formal education in this particular background. His original compositions and live sets effortlessly blend separate genres, such as house, electro and techno. After six years of being a festival circuit regular, Sood is all set to produce his debut all-original studio album, entitled Future Perfect, which will be out in February 2018.

About the idea behind Future Perfect, Sood says, “Electronic music has seen a huge surge in the past few years and now has firmly cemented itself in the mainstream, whether it’s sales, streaming or radio. While I have the utmost respect for artistes writing underground electronic music, I also find it really exciting to add live instruments, vocals and take a more traditional approach to songwriting while still operating in the electronic space. That’s something I’ve tried to achieve with this album and that’s my definition of hybrid and organic.”

The album traces its musical influences back to Sood’s teenage years. He says, “The album draws heavily from my teenage years when I was listening to a lot of jazz, rock and pop. I decided it was finally time to write an album. I wanted a fresh unique sound and exceptional songwriting. Hence, I temporarily moved base to Los Angeles with absolutely no expectations or pre-conceived ideas. I got to work with some of the best talent and I’m really happy with the end result.While the primary genre in this album is house, the album also embraces pop, funk, disco and techno elements.”

The album was primarily written in Los Angeles, and features collaborations with a wide range of talented songwriters, such as Jonita Gandhi, Zach Sorgen, Trishes and Cari Golden—the songs marking a confluence of varied musical styles and sounds. The album also features music videos that have been shot at different locations, including parts of Italy and Turkey.

The 28-year-old artiste crossed a lot of generic bounds with this album. He says, “I have to say there are challenging aspects of working with artistes from such a wide range of genres. However, on the other side, it was also a very rewarding process since you have so much creative freedom as a producer and no rules or genres that you need to stick to.”

For Sood, being a DJ comes with its own set of advantages and drawbacks. He says, “Being able to travel the world, meeting new people, experiencing their culture and above all being able to share the music I love with them is definitely the best part.”

And the challenges? “As clichéd as it sounds, the travel and long schedules are definitely the worst challenges for me,” he says.

“The crowds definitely differ around the world. American crowds prefer harder, more bass-heavy drops, while European crowds tend to be mellower and prefer groovy tracks. It’s all about finding the right balance in your set, something that only experience can teach you.”
Sood is now among the best-known names in the Indian dance music scene, and is a regular fixture at the biggest music festivals in the country, the likes of Sunburn, NH7 Weekender, Tomorrowland, Unite, Enchanted Valley Carnival, and so on. Talking about his live shows, he says, “I have to say that over the years Sunburn has definitely emerged as my favourite festival to play at. I’ve been performing there for close to a decade now, and they keep upping the bar every year with line-ups and production. Another festival that I really like is “It’s The Ship”, in Singapore. It’s a festival that takes place on a cruise ship that sails out to sea for four days with 3,500 people on board. As you can imagine, it’s a lot of fun.”

The artiste has also worked with many renowned musicians like David Guetta, Steve Aoki and Tiesto among others. “It’s always an incredible experience touring with a big international act,” Sood tells Guardian 20. “What really strikes you the most is how professional they really are when it comes to putting together the show. Their team functions like clockwork and everything is engineered from start to finish to deliver the best possible experience for the fans.”

Live shows can also take their toll on performers, both physically and mentally. To avoid gig fatigue, Sood has some personal rules. He says, “I work on my set extensively on the plane or in my hotel room before a gig and I know my music inside out. That’s the key to a great show—it’s 90% preparation and 10% execution.”

He adds, “Close to the gig, an espresso always works magic and so does some light stretching to ease your back and leg muscles.”

On his process of curating a setlist for a show, he says, “It really depends on the venue and the vibe you’re aiming for. But for me, I always prefer to curate longer sets since it really gives artistes enough time to take the audiences through a journey.”

Sood has now garnered tonnes of experience when it comes to performing gigs in India and overseas. “The crowds definitely differ around the world,” he says. “American crowds prefer harder, more bass-heavy drops, while European crowds tend to be mellower and prefer groovy tracks. It’s all about finding the right balance in your set, something that only experience can teach you.”

Do DJs have a future in India? And has the dance music scene here really come of age? Sood says, “The scene has really grown since I started off, both in terms of quality and quantity. We have so many great venues in the country now and electronic music is at the forefront of programming at most of these places. We’ve also seen the meteoric rise of festivals in India. The young Indian population has embraced dance music and festival culture. In terms of quality, we have some incredible homegrown artistes today and many all-Indian line-ups fill up rooms far easier than international acts, which is a really healthy sign for the scene.”

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