If DJ’ing can be considered to be an ‘art’, DJ Akbar Sami is certainly the pioneer of it. A self-learned DJ, Akbar Sami is one of the very few known disc jockeys in the country, who started his career in the 1980s. IWMBuzz engages in a candid discussion with him on his career, the scenario of DJ’ing in India, the future of the art and a lot more. Read the conversation to know more.
So how exactly is cloud clubbing or conducting gigs online different for you? Is it less or more interesting?
It’s so interestingly different. And I kind of love the difference. Primarily because there are people tuning in from the world over. Most of them are involved directly with comments and hearts flowing, everyone has an opinion and everyone participates which is so much more fun. And I can also record the entire set and post it on social media for the upcoming DJs and producers to learn and enjoy the experience. The most important thing about cloud clubbing is that the reach is endless and global.
You are hailed and regarded as the first-ever DJ of this country. 35 years down the line, where do you think the DJ culture is heading? Has the quality gone up or down?
35 or more years ago, DJ’ing was in its real form and shape. And that is what DJ’ing was all about. Today, it’s become like one of the play store game on the Internet, anybody can check-in and play. And that’s what’s happening, people without any training (forget professional) or any knowledge about music are becoming or calling themselves deejay. Some are also investing money and hiring a DJ to DJ for themselves. And then calling themselves deejay. It’s funny. It’s the next level of a joke. So obviously there will be a confusion for a layman/woman as to what the hell is this Dj’ing all about? And what’s going on in there. All the above is mainly because the hirers of these so-called DJs have no idea what real DJs do and what it’s all about, cause they themselves need to learn ‘how to run a club’ (Most of them are ex Restaurant owners, some have excess to funds from wherever). And most of them go by the social media “likes” “followers” and so on when they hire a DJ. Such likes etc can be bought with a little money just to show how popular they are. So, there is a lot of confusion in my industry as of now. However, I think this will improve in a few years, fingers crossed.
What are the minute details that you always keep in mind whenever you are composing?
After decades of experience, I know what exactly is being heard and liked in India. The other advantage that I have while producing is that I travel around the world and indulge with many talented musicians from different mindsets in making melodies and soundtracks. I exchange thoughts and ideas with them and come back with a bag full of ideas and utilise them in different music styles while keeping in mind the target audience for each track that I make. Of course, being a disc jockey and playing music for all types of people around India also is a huge advantage to know the pulse of the crowds here. But besides all the above, the music company heads in India generally pre-decide what the people like and they don’t. So, there’s no room for experiments unlike in other countries, which is a very sad part.
The ‘DJ Of the Decade’ is actually a huge accolade and honour. The first thought that you had in your mind when you were honoured with the same?
Oh my god. I still remember that call from Aman Anand. Which gave me the shivers and shock as in, is this a dream or reality? Cause this kind of award was just a wish for me. Whenever I used to see the other award shows the world over, I used to think that when will this happen in my country. When DJs will be recognised by their talents and the kind of hard work that we have put into the Indian music industry from decades. So, when I was informed about this award that I was receiving, I was overjoyed, overwhelmed, overexcited and over the top of the entire world, because I just was not happy that I’m receiving it but my entire industry was going to get it and appreciated. So I took it on behalf of my DJ brothers and myself who have given their entire life playing/promoting/creating different styles of Indian music and representing India all over the world, I still can’t thank INCA and their entire crew enough for this INCA HONOUR 35 YEARS OF MUSIC/ DJ OF THE DECADE AWARD. Big thanks to Aman Anand, Riyaz Amlani and also to Viraf Sarkari (Wizcraft) who flew down to Delhi specially to do the honours. And a big hug to all my fans and well-wishers. To top it all my mother’s prayers without which nothing was and is possible.
Lastly, do you think that in today’s time, there’s a lot of overdependency on remix music rather than how it used to be earlier? If yes, then why and if no, then why do you feel the same?
I don’t know if you remember the 80s/90s era. Which I feel was the best times when our Indian music was made. Fantastic melodies, beautifully penned down lyrics, out of the world compositions. And true music directors who created history for us. We in time and somehow lost that essence with the change, which of course is inevitable. Nevertheless, we also have this funny way of overdoing everything in our film industry. At a time when we had Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and a few more, we only revolved around them. Never gave another talent a chance. There is no doubt about their talent and their amazing voice but we didn’t let others enter. Even if you go back a decade and analyse. For example, Himesh (Reshammiya), he was all over for a few years but today he has just remixes and remakes. It’s heartbreaking and horrible to see our soul of music has disappeared, besides a few like Mithun and few more who are still doing justice. I get comments from tons of our music listeners from different countries complaining about this current sad situation. they say (Kya hogaya hai aapki music Industry ko?? Kahan gaya Indian music??). And I am speechless!! I hope and pray that we come back with what’s ours and real like the Tabla/Bansuri/Sitar/Sargam/Shehnai and the Indian meaningful soul-shaking lyrics. These were the reasons for the popularity of Indian music worldwide. It’s high time our music directors should get back to music direction and let the deejays do the remixes. What we have now are only remixes and remakes. God help us to get back. I hope that the music heads of the music companies understand that they are cutting the very and every branch that they are sitting on with this.
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