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DJ Speak: Akbar Sami
In India, heís part of the respected group that became DJs when DJing wasnít a trend that every college kid wanted to try out. His remix album Jalwa was released before Ďremixí became a bad word and after all this time heís still going strong. Here is DJ Akbar Sami in the hot seat this month!

The Record: Youíve worked on a lot of great tracks in the past ~ how do you select a track to remix?
Akbar Sami:
With film music itís a different ballgame, but on albums I select a track only if it is remix friendly. There are some tracks that should just be left alone ~ they are great as they are and you should not touch them. Of course some people will still go ahead and remix them and that is the reason the remix industry is getting a bad name. You canít just put a loop to any track and call it a remix. You have to select correctly. That is what I have been doing in the last couple of weeks, Iíve been picking out tracks and testing them in the studio for my new album. It will be out sometime in January and feature nine tracks. Itís very up-tempo, very contemporary. I make music keeping in mind the global listener. My earlier albums have been played over the world. DJ Bob Sinclair played my track Jalwa as part of his set, which is a big thing for me.

TR: What is your most prized record?
My most valued record is the Cavin Christopher track One Step Closer. Itís really hard to find now, I donít think Iíve ever seen it on vinyl again. I have looked for a fresher copy all over the world but never found it. I know so many people who are also looking for it. The copy I own was given to me by a friend of mine, DJ Chetan, who is no more. So it is really special because it also serves as a remembrance of my friend.

TR: Where do you source your music from?
My favourite store is a place called Beat Records in California. I always check it out. When I land in LA, it is the first store I visit.

TR: The most memorable venue youíve played atÖ
The first thing that comes to mind is a place in Durban, South Africa. It had an indoor and outdoor space that was just awesomely done up. Very raw, no heavy interiors, no big architect, but just the way it was done up with wood, wet mud and rocks of different shapes and sizeÖ you have to see it to believe it.

TR: What is the most unlikely place you have heard one of your songs?
This was some years ago in a little hill station kind of place about four hours out of San Francisco. They hardly have an Indian population there but I was there and I suddenly heard one of my tracks being played by this group of guys that werenít even Indian. It was really unexpected. I was with my family and we all kind of laughed, we were so surprised.

TR: What is the longest set you have ever played?
I once played a 14-hour set in Bangalore. I took a few five minute breaks but otherwise it was pretty much non-stop. There was no other DJ, just me, with about 8,000 people dancing in front of me so I couldnít goof up at all.

TR: What is the most ridiculous amount you have been paid for a gig?
Well, sometimes people call up and take names, like ĎI am So and Soís friend or cousin or brother and I want you to do this event for me but I donít have any budget, so Iíll pay only a small amount as a gesture.Ē If Iím up to it I do it sometimes, I donít even take that fee.

TR: So itís ridiculous in a bad way then?
[Laughs] Absolutely!

TR: What is your personal fashion style?
I think fashion is really important if you are a DJ. It determines the first impression you make on people be it at a meeting or at a nightclub. People expect you to be a little differently dressed because you are a DJ. I think you have to be stylised, you have to look good. I know that you canít always shop a lot and buy brands, but make the best of what you get here. We have good stores and designers here. As for my personal style, itís tough to describe but I can tell you that right now I am standing in front of eight wardrobes. [Laughs] And five shoe racks! So I would say that after music, the other thing which I am into is fashion. I buy clothes everywhere I go.

You can read the rest of our DJ Speak with Akbar Sami in the November-December 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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