Thursday, February 9, 2017

History of Electronic Music in India

India got talent. I thought of naming the post as History of Alternative Music in India but then, there are too many alternatives - alternative Pop, Alternative Rock etc. I just wish to focus on the history of electronic music in India that came in mainly via remixes. Remix can again be categorized into different types of genres. As such, remix is not a hard-definition genre but for sake of this post, we'll consider it a genre. I will define the term 'remix' in the next few paragraphs in this article about history of electronic music in India.

Bringing Remix To India

I credit Gulshan Kumar of T-Series with bringing remix and promoting the trend in India. Of course, there were some DJs (Disk Jockeys) as well but in 80s, people were rather obsessed with original soundtracks of both old and new music rather than listening to modified soundtrack.

While talking about 'remix", clearly it is not a genre but is used very well in different genres, mainly dance. History of electronic music in India is history of remix in India.

Using a loophole in the copyright law (1957) of India, Mr Kumar got his musicians to add "jhankar" (some drums with plenty of drum claps or whatever you call it. I can't remember the exact word for those effects around 16Khz frequency in a standard 10 band equalizer).

I define remix as adding own music to the "original soundtrack" of some movie or other piece of creation. The emphasis here is on the original soundtrack. If it is not original soundtrack, it is not remix. We'll come to that in a while.

When the other music companies holding original copyrights to music objected to this practice, courts modified the Copyright Act of Performing Acts (1957). The new changes stated that none other than the production house can use the original soundtracks for maximum 60 years from date of production of those tracks. But then, the court used the term "original soundtrack" which gave further boost to Gulshan Kumar and his music company named T-Series.

PS: It becomes necessary to mention here that the credit of bringing vinyl cassettes and tapes to common man, goes to T Series that is now handled by his brother, Kishan Kumar.

History of Electronic Music In India

Legal jargon is a fun and can be manipulated in as many ways as one can. All a person needs, is a brain that can locate ambiguous laws and use it for own benefit. When the courts banned usage of "original soundtracks" and said they can be used only by the production house that paid for it, the consultants of Gulshan Kumar came up with an idea that boosted not only the sales of electronic music based on new movies but also brought up new faces/talents to the mainstream.

To understand it more clearly, T-Series stopped using the "original soundtracks" and instead, had new talents sing those songs to own orchestra that was mainly electronic. Now this created much, much better versions of the new releases and probably the "Jhankar version" (as they were called) sold more than the original records. Instead of purchasing the new records as they released, most waited for the "Jhankar" version to be released. This was beginning of the electronic era of music in India.

Bringing Out The Talent - T Series

Not only the latest releases, the T-Series hired fresh talent to sing old songs from Hindi movies and converted them to own electronic versions. This saw the emergence of many a singers and actors (as T-Series also created movies around music). I won't go into detail there else this post would be limited to T-Series.

Still, I would like to state that the following names owe a lot to Mr Kumar and his T-Series:

1. Sonu Nigam - Was associated with T-Series until the fall of T-Series due to an accident explained in the second point here)
2. Anuradha Paudwal (went on to become an alternative for Lata Mangeshkar but suddenly withdrew after Mr Kumar as assassinated by some Mafia for reasons not made public)
3. Kumar Sanu - Not only sang for T-Series but also was hired by different production houses.
4. Attaullah Khan - This is was a whole different story. A Pakistani singer who became famous across Asia just because T-Series recognized his talent.
5. Vinod Rathore and many many more...

Bally Sagoo

The above section was an off beat but the story of T series would be incomplete if I don't mention it. Bottomline is T-Series used own orchestra, electronic, on all types of music to create a history of electronic music in India. That was in the 1990s before the famous DJs Bally Sagoo, Suketu and Aqueel captured the market.

Bally Sagoo

The numbers from Bally Sagoo were not exactly remixes because they did not use original soundtracks. Instead, someone sung the songs while Bally Sagoo arranged music. Not all of Bally Sagoo is electronic.

This person had an amazing talent with electronic. While the Dubstep was still in its infancy - limited to Britain - Bally Sagoo came up with an album called Asian Dub. This album was released somewhere in 1999 and satisfied most of the conditions of Dubstep. If you want me to be more precise, let us call it electro-dub.

Some of his famous albums are Bollywood Flashback 1, Bollywood Flashback 2, Star Crazy and Essential Raga.

Rise of Electronic Music In India

Bali Brambhatt
Following Bally Sagoo came up plenty of DJs such as Aqeel, Suketu and more. They were not remixes but covers. They had people singing songs on live orchestra under the Dance and Pop genre. Nonetheless, both Suketu and Aqeel produced some of the best rocking numbers.

Within these names pops up a name that stands a bit apart! Bali Bhrambhatt, was not much into mixing but did create a number of good dance numbers that rocked pubs and parties.

These DJs found place in emerging Indian electronic music Though most of their numbers were dance & pop as discussed above, some of their creations fall under electronic mixed with other genres. I am not sure what to call them.

Then, there were music companies that knew the people in 90s were more oriented towards fresh voices and off-beat music. They hired these talents to cater to the tastes of the music lovers. Their music is still played in many pubs even all these years. There are some other names without which the 90s won't be complete: Baba Sehgal, Alisha Chinoy, Biddu, Nirvana and not to forget, Apache Indian. They were electronic, more inclined towards pop, dance and hip-hop. I might come up with another article to cover the rise of alternative music in India. For now, let us bring our focus back to history of electronic music in India

The New Age Electronic Music In India

Just when I thought the phase was over, I suddenly found talent all over India in the electronic genre and not limited to that genre. I discovered this breed accidentally in 2010 when looking for some electronic real remixes instead of covers.

Among the names I would like to take are:

2. DJ Akhil Talreja
3. DJ O2 & SRK
4. DJ Rink
5. DJ Jaaya (or J-Ya as she signs up)
6. DJ Tejas and
7. DJ Shadow

You will be impressed to know that in India, we have a good number of lady DJs: DJ Rink and DJ J-Ya deserve a mention. All of them are just experts in spinning disks. Plenty of other names exist but cant put all of them here. And in this case, they are remix: electronic music over original soundtracks.

I might as well add that this too is just another good phase of the history of electronic music in India as I am now finding some other genres dependent on "electronic" already spread all over the world - created by Indians but yet to be accepted in India.

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