Breaking Boundaries in Electronic Music: A Conversation with DJ/Producer IND:RA

Today, we’re excited to chat with DJ/Producer IND:RA, a key figure in advancing Electronic music culture in India and beyond; having his journey into Electronic music begun in 2001, this talented DJ/Producer has honed his skills to develop a sound that showcases his vision and influences, that have lead him to get the attention from top artists in the industry, an opportunity to become a resident at Hakkasan London, and developing the idea to found his own label Desert Disco Records. 
Join us as we delve into his journey, motivations, challenges, and future plans. 
Hello IND:RA, how are you? To start, can you tell us about your journey into Electronic music and how it all began for you? 

Hi guys. Interestingly, my journey into Electronic music happened after my journey into DJing. I started DJing in 2001 and used to play club music back then, which mostly consisted of classic House and Trance. I discovered their subgenres as I got exposed to more Electronic music via watching international artists online. Internet was just blowing up in India and I remember seeing Tiësto’s Dance Valley set, Fatboy Slim’s Brighton Beach set, Berlin Love Parade sets and I fell in love with the storytelling of these sets, along with the crowd control that they had. My trips to Goa during those times also helped me get exposed to a variety of Electronic music which came straight from Ibiza and London.  

You’ve been a key figure in advancing Electronic music culture in India. What motivates you to continue pushing boundaries in the scene? 

I grew up and started DJing in Gujarat, a state where alcohol is prohibited, and hence there were no clubs or raves or any Electronic music culture. While discovering amazing artists and records, I had to throw my own parties to be able to play those records. I had some great sources online, and had a great collection of records which other DJs did not have, and I really enjoyed playing something that people heard for the first time. I felt that just because we did not have clubs does not mean people shouldn’t get to hear good music. I started throwing raves, warehouse parties and hired various venues and converted them into temporary clubs to give them the experience I wanted to share with them. I still try and give back, and hope to get some big Dance music brands back home whenever I tour.  

How would you describe your sound and style, and how has it evolved over the years? 

In the past 24 years of DJing I have moved across multiple genres. From Psy Trance to Progressive Trance, early Electro and Acid House, Ethno Techno, Progressive House, and now I like to play and produce Melodic House and Techno. However, I like to merge lines between sub-genres and usually travel between genres while maintaining a particular sound through the set. I love playing records according to the vibe and feel of the set rather than a particular genre. The one common thing about my sound across genres and years is it has always been Melodic and usually synth heavy. I also enjoy lush pads, and am biased towards records which use them well.   

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as an artist, and how have you overcome them? 

There were too many to mention here. It has not been an easy road, especially early in my life when resources were a problem, but I think it would be the same for a lot of artists in that time. I used to be heavily booked early in my career, but I moved away from commercial music to concentrate on more underground sound in that time. It caused me monetary loss, but I wanted to play a sound that I related to and helped me play the kind of sets I wanted to. It was tough, as Electronic music had just started growing in India, and getting clubs to book you to play those sounds was rare. I eventually started getting booked across India through word of mouth from people who heard me play, and I was part of the artists in early 2000s who pushed the Indian Electronic music scene.  

Being the only Indian artist with a residency at Hakkasan in London is a remarkable achievement; what does this residency mean to you? 

It is always a privilege to work with a global brand like Hakkasan, especially in their flagship venue in London. It was different from what I was usually used to, but an amazing experience. I played for both their venues at Mayfair and Hanway Place, and I enjoyed playing the signature Hakkasan sound.  

Your label, Desert Disco Records, celebrates various genres of Electronic music, what inspired you to start the label, and what’s your vision for it? 

Starting Desert Disco Records was born during peak Covid time. I had recently moved to London, and the club and festival scene was completely shut. I know a lot of talented music producers from India, who don’t get global representation for their records, and the reason for starting Desert Disco Records was to get some of these sounds out globally and get them heard to an audience who have not discovered the Indian Electronic music talent. I hope to continue doing the same and also include upcoming Electronic Dance music artists from across the South Asian community who need a platform to release and get heard.  

You’ve played alongside some of your biggest musical inspirations; can you share a memorable experience from one of these shows? 

I can’t quite share a lot of them here, haha. But one of my best memories is spending time with Simon Posford while he performed for a private crowd of around 20 odd people in my city during his first India tour. I have loved Sphongle and Younger Brother from the early days and hearing him play a 7-hour set creating a journey across his music from these acts was quite something.  

How would you describe your style to someone new to your music? 

My music, across my productions and sets, is never random. It revolves around the melodic element, but is like a good Hitchcock movie which has a slow and steady start, and then adds characters. It has suspense, drama a build-up and then the big reveal.  

What advice would you give to aspiring DJs and producers looking to make an impact in the Electronic Dance music scene? 

I would say that talent can get you started, but it takes a lot more to make an impact in the current scene. The best thing is to ask questions and learn, collaborate with people who are more experienced than you, or have a skill set you don’t, but most of all, always think of what you can give, rather than what you want from someone. Understanding the value you can give and developing it, will open many doors for you.  

What can we expect from IND:RA in the near future? Any upcoming releases or projects you’re excited about? 

2024 has started with a bang. Ended 2023 with an amazing India tour and started 2024 with signing releases to 2 of my favourite labels. I will also be hosting a weekly radio show, called RE:SET Radio, which would be broadcasted across multiple countries and stations across the world, and will have a large listening audience. There will be quite a few releases this year, starting with my single releasing with Silver Panda’s amazing record label Panda Lab Records, which is currently a top 10 Melodic Techno label, on 12th of April.  

As we wrap up our conversation with IND:RA, it’s clear that his passion for Electronic music is boundless. From his beginnings in Gujarat to becoming a trailblazer in the global Electronic music scene, IND:RA’s journey is an inspiring display of perseverance and creativity. While he continues to work on his upcoming releases and shows, make sure to follow him across social media to not miss any updates about his latest news, as this DJ/Producer shows no signs of halting soon. 

IND:RA Online 

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