The last decade witnessed fresh talent changing the face of music on both national and international platforms. One name that stands tall in this list is DJ Chetas. Hailing from Mumbai, he has made the genre “Bollywood fused with electronica” a phenomenon.
He is the first Indian to get featured in DJ Mag’s Top 100, and in 2016 he was ranked 33, which won him recognition worldwide. Apart from this, he was unanimously voted “My Fav DJ—Bollywood” in 2014 and 2015. Today, he is affiliated with renowned record labels and is treating us to a welcome mix of EDM infused with retro, contemporary and yesteryear music.
Having spent 11 years in the music business, he is now well placed to look back on a decade full of struggle and hard work from the vantage point of his accomplished career. “I have struggled a lot… almost eight years. I remember sitting at the T-Series office for four-five hours just to meet someone and make them listen to my remixes. Even today, there are people who are very talented but meeting the right people is important. So, I met such people but it took me several years. India has talent everywhere. But it all depends on luck and meeting right people,” he says.
DJ Chetas has observed the music industry as an insider. He reflects on how Indian consumers of music have transformed their taste in the last decade: “I think electronic trance music has helped the music scene in India a lot. Earlier, it didn’t have relevance in Bollywood. Like the tracks of 2005 or 2006 had a lot of dhol and other Indian instruments. But these days, even the romantic numbers are more on the EDM side… most of them, so to speak. The fusion of music and technology has definitely helped.”
Since his debut album Life is a Mashup, he has released another, called Iqraar by Chance and entered mainstream Bollywood with a track for Golmaal. When asked his views on whether the Indian audiences are more responsive to Bollywood music than to albums brought out by independent artistes, he responds, “Look at me and other independent artistes, today we are doing well. And I think it’s not only Bollywood, it’s about something that has Hindi. The lyrics are very important. Hindi or Indian vocals have gone to another level and independent artistes are growing at a very good pace. Also, Bollywood is something I will always be concentrating on because that’s what I love.”
On being asked whether a conscious effort is required while shifting from original music to recreations, he says, “When you love music, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a recreation or an original track. When I go to the studio, I don’t think that today I am going to make a recreation or something new. It’s just that whatever you feel like, you do it. If I feel like I want to recreate an old track, then I work on it. When I feel like I want to make a party number or a romantic number, I sit and work towards that. So it doesn’t really matter.”
Talking about his influences in music while growing up, he says, “I’ve been listening to Bollywood since I was a kid. So, I never wanted to get into EDM or something like that but I definitely wanted to change the Bollywood scene and I am still trying to do that. I am getting the EDM thing to Bollywood right now. That’s what I want to do and that’s what I am going to keep on doing.”
He has reprised the classic song “Jab Koi Baat” in his EDM style with vocals by Atif Aslam and Shirley Setia. As for other global musicians he’d like to collaborate with, he says, “I am really open for collaborations. Mainly someone like David Guetta because he has inspired me a lot and I really respect him for what he did on the EDM stage about 10 years back. Back then he started collaborating with a lot of singers and that’s what I want to do in Bollywood. I want to collaborate with a lot of singers.”
Remixes were a fad back in the 1990s. Talking about why he thinks the trend died down, he says, “It was because there were too many remixes happening at that time. I remember the ‘Kaanta laga’ days; there were only remixes-remixes-remixes. And right now, we have recreations everywhere… Be it singles, or a Bollywood movie. So it’s a phase and I am not saying it’s going to die but every genre and everything has a phase. Right now recreations are working. So let’s see how long it’s going to last. We are all doing it for the people. If they like recreations, then I have to do them. Till the time people like it, I’ll be doing it. I will be doing my best.”
Chetas is the only DJ to have hosted his own two-hour show—House Of Dance—on primetime TV. He talks about the Indian crowd catching up to the global craze of remixes and mash-ups. “The EDM scene is growing everywhere… all over the world. What I am doing right now is mixing the EDM sound with, Bollywood vocals. Bollywood is something that every Indian loves… even if he or she is from London or from anywhere in the world. It is something we all love. And giving it a better sound or giving it a modern sound is what people want right now. So that’s what I am trying to do. Normally we DJs call it BTM—Bollywood Trance music.”
Now a successful DJ and music producer, he finds motivation not so much in awards or recognition as in the idea of creating good music for his listeners. He says, “Honestly, the rankings don’t matter at all because it’s just a number. What matters is producing good music for the people and the day people stop liking my music, I think that’s the day I should quit DJ-ing. It’s all about producing good stuff.”
As for the other genres of music he’d like to experiment with, he says, “The youth loves EDM and we all love Bollywood. After that comes our love for parties. You can’t have a party in India without Bollywood music. I really like trap and it’s something I am really passionate about. I would love to get trap into Bollywood. It’s a very tough job, but I’ll try to come up with it.”
After starting a dance music revolution in India, he has now launched a mobile application promoting the same. Explaining what prompted him to do so, he says, “Today, when you wake up, you don’t really pick up the newspaper and read the news. What you do is you pick up the phone and anything and everything is there. You have to give people what they want and they want everything on their phone. So you give them the music there and they don’t really have to search for you anywhere. If they are following you on Instagram, then they will get to know what you are up to. Social media is playing a very big role for artistes right now. Independent artistes are all growing because of social media. So, if you go on my app, you can reach my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. By just clicking once, you get everything.”
Clearly, people have started appreciating his music, and the future looks bright for DJ Chetas. “People have to support the scene. We are here to create music and will be doing that. But what I feel is, when we do concerts, people don’t really buy passes for Indian artistes. So that thing should change in the future,” he says.