Please tell us about yourself
Priya Sen is based out of Mumbai. Her vision has always been to entertain, educate and be an independent voice on music, machines and the performers who make all our lives so rich and colourful with what they do. Just a quick browse of her social media will affirm she is a hot commodity and much in demand these days for not only her music curation skills, but also her ever-growing roster of productions.
Priya Sen is regular contributor writer and music reviewer for music magazines. She spends her time writing press for people across the world in the Underground music scene. Humbly, for years, I have watched her put others and their careers before her own and thought it was about time that the spotlight shone in the direction of this talented, passionate unsung hero.
When did you get your first inspiration to play music?
Let’s say I saw light during one of my dark times. There was something very special about the year 2013, little did I know the universe was conspiring and there were several things that happened simultaneously that pushed me gently towards playing music.
What was your inspiration?
If there’s one man I am floored by, it’s John Digweed. His sets made me fall in love with electronic dance music back in the day, other than that I am a writer with several dance music magazines nearly a decade now, and I get to check out a lot of music that’s sent to me for review purposes, and that opened the flood gates, for the idea that followed next. One day I was sitting writing all these reviews as per usual and then the thought struck me, that why can’t I play all this wonderful music to my close friends and people who I was coming in to contact with on a daily basis, why stop at only expressing my thoughts about the releases in writing alone, why not make or have all the persons I am connected with know and hear it first hand, so there you go. I had some help and support from promoter friends who I introduced some of all this music to and they agreed that I must get behind the players and share them in a club environment. That was crucial and a turn around. It’s the music I have come to know and from an incredible number of talented artists from around the globe who have all collectively inspired me to take this up as a career I am really taking seriously now, if I might add.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
I started out as a chill out DJ, I was told to get my music to the club by my promoter friends on several occasions and play early sets before the main acts took over. It just so happened that one of the nights, the DJ who was supposed to play after me, showed up late and suddenly I was told that I had to get the club going, that’s when I got the chance to dig in to my dance music folders and there’s been no looking back since. I was terrible and even terrified those first few times when I started to play dance music, but I managed to put the tracks together in a somewhat respectable manner so to speak. Not only did I have to condition my mind that I was switching over to music that must make people get on the floor, I had to find it in my brain to get a sequence going to make them have a good time, it took me a few outings to get the hang of it.
Did you find any complications along the way?
I wouldn’t say complications as much as challenges.
How did you work through them?
As soon as I knew that all I want to do in my life from now on is DJ, I had to become friends with technology very quickly, most of my close mates are DJs/producers far more advanced in years and are masters of the craft; they were generous and kind to guide me through. I am learning everyday even now. I feel I started very late in the business, so that was a huge draw back for me, but I try to make up for all the lost time, by giving every outing the best music I possess. I feel tremendously joyous when people come and appreciate tracks they’ve heard for the first time. I always play new music; after all I believe it’s a DJ’s job not only to entertain but also to the uninitiated educate in some possible way.
What keeps you motivated?
It’s the thrill of playing all this fantastic music releasing world-wide to friends, clubbers or even people I see or meet the first time, for that matter. To bring them closer to the sounds those warrant appreciation, to get them to open their minds to a treasure trove of talent from distant shores and from my own country. Some of my best friends in India happen to be amazing artists and to see them burn the midnight oil and reach heights of glory and achievement is a huge galvanising factor, and their hard work in that journey, humbles me. I can only aspire.
What’s the scene like where you live?
Mumbai is a tough scene, by that I mean one must work hard here; there are no short-cuts in this maximum city. The music business welcomes all and the electronic dance industry is really booming now from this place. Suddenly it’s fashionable to have House music nights. There’s an amazing number of clubs, bars and festivals sprouting up and overall things seem to be going in the right direction, having said that we do tend to catch often trendy options. I would really like to see it opening its arms to a more underground vibe. But hey, there’s time for that, I am thinking.
If you had Top 3 places to play, where would they be and why?
Warung Beach club – Brazil this South American venue has my heart, Ministry of Sound – UK is an institution with their dance legacy and Crobar in Buenos Aires, I want to be at the dance capital of the world.
What is special about the sound you play?
My choice of sounds is chunky, tracks that contain melody, yet have depth and atmosphere, not only can it create drama for the floor it can be evocative even when not dancing due to elements that provide intelligent structure and above all make you really feel the punch when one is dancing.
What makes a great gig?
Sound is the most important factor for me. An open-minded audience ready to explore and trust the DJ to take them on a journey is a must I think, if the performer has that then its wow. Lastly, allow DJs to play longer sets where the artist is secure in the fact that he or she has time to play a wide range of sounds, to be able to capture the people’s imagination and give them flight. These are all things that can make an ordinary gig smashing.
What can people expect in one of your sets?
I try to deliver a different vibe as often as possible; I feel I select music that would excite me as a clubber first. I do believe that the sounds you enjoy the most, when played right, can easily translate through your work and create a connection and bond with people in front of you. The audience can catch your flavour, vibe and their body language resonates with your output. I am really enjoying multiple styles of dance music, there’s some great releases in Deep House, Progressive, Deep Tech and Techno. I can’t say I am tied to one or the other, I show case all these depending on what my mood is at that given day or time. Overall, I think I stay underground.
Who has motivated you most?
Not just one, there are four individuals – Hernan Cattaneo, Ankytrixx, Priyanjana and Amber Long.
What keeps you going in tough times?
Loads of Red Bull and Vodka hehe (joking). I am largely a positive person, what gets me down is the same thing that fires me up to get up, I don’t wallow in anything too long however difficult things may get at times, I have learned to try and fuel the tough times in to something constructive. At the end of the day, I veer towards keeping my chin up like a true Gemini and anything for laughs and giggles is my motto.
Where can people find your sets?
I have a show on FRISKY as you know called Provocateur which airs second Thursday of every month. I also get asked to do guest mixes from different hosts, it can be found on my SoundCloud and Mixcloud accounts. I heart FRISKY the whole way.
What about production, how are you enjoying that?
I have had some sound advice from some of the greats in the business who told me to look in to this aspect and I have, as it’s helping me to take my career a notch up. I have been learning production a couple of years now. I have had the good fortune of finding a collaborator Aman Anand who has already released on some of the best labels and he has taught me quite a lot of the stuff I know now. I am shocked to find out I am really enjoying the process of creating something out of scratch that renowned artists may pick up to play, it’s just an amazing feeling. All I am doing is learning, absorbing information and ways to get better every day of my life.
Any new music in the pipelines?
Yes, well Aman and I are working on some original stuff and a couple of remix projects, I can’t say more at this point. Shhh!!
Do you have advice for aspiring DJs?
Too many of them are getting in to this line for frivolous reasons and want instant fame and validation; they are wrong premises in the first place. I think they should examine their actions because every crack shows if your efforts are not genuine and vice versa, people see through it all. Everyone and their grandmothers are in to DJing nowadays with a laptop, oh well, nothing wrong in it, but do it cause you want to make a difference in the world of dance and not just to get famous and by climbing over people to get there.
What’s it like, the scene in Mumbai/Goa/India?
It’s healthy, but my worry is its peaking much too fast, I do hope we don’t saturate ourselves or reach burn out overall, but then again no one really cares about all that. The good thing is everyone wants to party and there’s a lot to choose from these days, so bodes well for times to come I reckon. Goa will always shine no matter what. It’s a place that’s second to none and dearest Mumbai is a sensory overload in every possible way, can’t keep this one down.
What’s your ultimate goal?
Scare Guy J when he is playing a set somewhere haha!! He is so perfect and so sublime. I think my ultimate goal is to become a global citizen and play at places I have never been and meet people who cherish, nurture, and support, appreciate your efforts for what it is. It’s the biggest dream and gift I can have. I want to surround myself with people who have humility and are substantial via their work otherwise it’s a waste of time.
Where do you see yourself in 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years? When you’re 80?
I’m happy just puttering around, writing for the magazines, making music. DJing, getting drunk, listen to old records. I live a lean lifestyle, even though I am a big party monster. With money, it’s like how much do you need? After years of not knowing what to do with myself, it’s all very clear to me, so I am grateful to the universe for bringing me to this place.
The people that are the happiest are the ones that seem to know themselves and are certain of what they need. Not the ones that are clamouring for more, desperate to be heralded in some way. That’s just not necessary for me. I have set some priors for myself; I do see myself traveling internationally, maybe have a small cottage somewhere and get some furry friends to keep me warm and I hope I am playing or even dancing to the masters somewhere when the lights go out.
What’s one thing you can’t live without?
Music is the only thing and yeah, food.
What are your top 3 fav tracks of all times?
Veracocha – Carte Blanche
Guy J – Nirvana
Reflekt feat. Delline Bass – Need to Feel Loved