Bengaluru boy DJ Nikhil Chinapa gets candid about his recent works, choice of career and the city of his birth

Bengaluru boy DJ Nikhil Chinapa gets candid about his recent works, choice of career and the city of his birth

“The sound spectrum is changing a little bit in the specific space called melodic techno — I’ve been experimenting with that and have added a few Indian grunge elements into the sound to keep it more exciting and fresh,” says DJ Nikhil Chinapa, who was recently in the city, introducing residents to his latest work — music he has been working on for the past month or so. “There’s no better place than Bengaluru to experiment because these guys know their music.”

The audience understands the difference between music and mediocre music, Nikhil says. “Bengaluru has always been far less prejudiced compared to audiences across India. They listen with an open mind, whilst deciding what they like or don’t like about an artiste. In most places, people come with a pre-set idea and if the artiste doesn’t play accordingly, they are rubbished. Bengaluru has a broad spectrum audience, so it’s always good to play there. At the same time, it’s challenging because you know the audience knows their stuff.”

DJ Nikhil Chinapa

DJ Nikhil Chinapa
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The DJ who was performing at Raahi, in the city, says, “You get to know right away if your music appeals to the audience on the dance floor. As DJs we are constantly listening to new music and deciding what works for us, for our sound and how we want to structure ourselves,” adding how ‘extraordinarily challenging, but also rewarding,’ his chosen career is.

Among the first professional DJs in India, Nikhil says the job requires hard work and dedication. “Like with any profession — whether it’s being a world-class, doctor and scientist, carpenter or Formula One race car driver — there is no such thing as overnight success. It takes a deep understanding of the skills required as well as of the equipment you’d be using.”

A section of the audience at Nikhil Chinapa’s event DJing in Raahi, Bengaluru

A section of the audience at Nikhil Chinapa’s event DJing in Raahi, Bengaluru
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“If you are the kind of person who can’t understand life without music, if music is the only thing in the world that makes sense to you in a way maths, physics and geography do, then those are the people who should become DJs,” he laughs.

Nikhil admits that DJing is a very rewarding way to spend one’s free time, playing for friends and family, but to be a successful professional, one has to be in the top 2 or 3%. “If not, you can still have a decent career but you won’t be at the pinnacle of your craft or community.”

On a lighter note, Nikhil says when he first started, quite a few club owners thought he didn’t know how to DJ. “They thought I was there as a celebrity — the MTV guy who was going to stand behind the console and wave his arms about. Back then we were playing on vinyl records, which was a completely different art form, and in my opinion, slightly tougher to play than the current digital format. I would pull out my records, put them on the turntable and play music, mixing one record after the other — that took them by surprise!” he laughs.

DJ Nikhil Chinapa at Raahi in Bengaluru

DJ Nikhil Chinapa at Raahi in Bengaluru
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

However, he does admit that being a part of the MTV community opened more doors for him than a fresher. “Even if MTV wasn’t there, I would have still done it because it’s something I truly enjoy. Sharing music that I love on the dance floor and seeing the audiences react to something that I’m playing for the first time is extremely rewarding, it’s very satisfying.”

Talking about the city’s willingness to support and nurture new talent, Nikhil says, “As eager as they are to listen to DJs from other cities, audiences in Bengaluru recognise that it’s the local DJs that keep the fires burning, feeding the dance floors with fresh music and sound.”

Nikhil says the biggest challenge one faces as a DJ is protecting their hearing because they listen to music at extraordinary loud levels. “Once your hearing goes, it can’t be regenerated or fixed. Unfortunately, many venues and establishments in India don’t have proper acoustic control. They do put in expensive sound systems but they’re not balanced out in a way so one can protect your hearing or lower the volume to mix or play at reduced decibel levels,” he rues.

A section of the audience at Nikhil Chinapa’s event DJing in Raahi, Bengaluru

A section of the audience at Nikhil Chinapa’s event DJing in Raahi, Bengaluru
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Water woes

The recent spate of rains in Bengaluru was also something Nikhil discussed. “The climate crisis that the planet is facing is real. Though the rains are unusual and the unplanned manner in which the city developed, made this situation inevitable, there’s a lot we can do as citizens,” he says.

He talks about water activist and educator Vishwanath Srikantaiah, based out of Bengaluru whose Rainwater Club is a charity he champions. “Also known as the Zenrainman on Instagram and Twitter, Vishwanath has been reviving traditional methods of rainwater harvesting and water storage in and around the city and South India as well. He advocates the cleaning up of traditional, open wells and replenishing of groundwater aquifers in Bangalore. We need to pay attention to the depletion of groundwater across the world.”

“In Bengaluru, it depends on us and our elected representatives to plan for the future — from groundwater depletion, rainwater harvesting, water logging etc. In the 90s, only Millers Tank Bund Road would get flooded. But now, with the number of places built across lake beds, it’s a far more alarming situation. We need to take a good, hard look at the planet because it is the only one we have.”



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By Dipak

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