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DJ Union
In town for the British Council Union project, Howie B, Matt Black and Aki Nawaz, three leading DJs and producers from the UK put the art back into remixing.

The Record: How was the DJ Union experience in Mumbai for you?
Howie: Being in Bombay, participating in the DJ Union project was a brilliantly colourful experience. Working in Smoke studios was very rewarding and gave me a glimpse of the Indian recording scene. The workshop I did at The British Council was a chance to meet young musicians and producers and we exchanged some interesting ideas and playing at the club on the Friday night was just magic. I also had a chance to sprinkle a wee bit of dust on Mukul (Deora)'s new album (a great collection of songs on Sony/BMG) and meet nutters like Jesse who are doing some hard work on the Indian music scene which is leftfield.

Matt: It was a great thrill. It was my first time in India. I'd heard a lot about it and I found it a very enriching experience actually. I was particularly pleased to connect with the Bollywood end of things because it's not something I knew much about before I came to India. I'd heard of it and seen a few films, like Monsoon Wedding. But having been there I'm sort of falling in love with the fantastic richness of the visuals and the music so I'm hoping to do more work with that in the future.

Aki: Speaking from my perspective it was great to be given an opportunity to play out some 'off the wall' and definitely off the beaten track music. As we all know there is a club mentality which is just geared to “dancing and having a good time” which has its place and function. However for me it's more important to inspire people with sound and also to let them experience alternative sounds.
Overall it was reassuring to see young people getting off on music which is not run of the mill. I would encourage DJs in India to create underground clubs specifically with the intention to play more music with an experimental edge - this inspires everyone, from audiences to journalists to media and ultimately music lovers and makers.

TR: Tell us of a memorable occurrence from when you were starting out.
Howie: Nearly losing my finger editing half inch tape.

Matt: I've been DJing for a long time, about 30 years now. My very first DJing experience was in 1975 when I was 14. I had a group of friends and we got some old equipment and kind of built an old disco ourselves basically, in the school hall. We didn't know anything about electronics at that time so we just borrowed all the speakers in the school and wired about twenty or thirty of them up to this one amplifier. And of course the amplifier overheated! So the disco was going really well, we'd got all of these people in, and suddenly all the sounds cut out and we looked at each other and thought 'Oh my God!' We figured out what had happened and then my friends and I had to spend the next three hours fanning the amplifier with record sleeves to cool it down.

Aki: Too many great stories but I do recall a scene where my father, who was a great inspiration to me in terms of politics and hard work, was disappointed in the fact that I had turned to Punk music, disapproved of my dress sense, and caught me wearing make-up. It was basically make-up in the style of the 'native Indians' of America. However to him it was a worrying sight and when he slammed the door and walked off angrily shouting “Five generations of family and I get the homosexual child” was absolutely a gem in terms of nostalgia. I understood his dilemma and out of respect I grew a moustache for about four days just to bring him out of his zone of depression. Great dad!

Organised by the British Council, the project brought together six top DJs from the UK and India. Matt Black, Howie B, Aki Nawaz, Nasha, Akbar Sami and Anoop remixed six popular tracks and conducted workshops with upcoming Indian DJs and producers.

HOWIE B was a popular London-based DJ prior to his move into full-time production in the early ‘90s. He has produced artists such as Bjork, DJ Shadow, Portishead, Tricky and U2.

MATT BLACK and Jonathan More aka Coldcut rose to acclaim in the mid-80s in the UK for cutting edge production and remix work. They assembled an empire of UK breakbeat and experimental hip-hop through their independent label Ninja Tune which is a unifying force in underground experimental electronic music.

AKI NAWAZ has played many roles in music - artist, producer, DJ, documentary maker and owner of prestigious label Nation Records. He also formed the critically acclaimed group Fun Da Mental and has worked with many traditional musicians like Huur Tu, Rizwan Muazzam Qawaal, Mighty Zulu Nation and Ghazi Khan.

You can read the rest of our exclusive DJ Union feature in the April 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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