Strik­ing a chord

India Today - - SIMPLY CHENNAI - by Saranya Chakra­pani

The dar­ling of MTV— all the way from the 1990s to 2012, a DJ who be­lieves that the mu­sic is al­ways big­ger than the mu­si­cian, a self- pro­claimed EDM fa­natic and Fes­ti­val Di­rec­tor of Goa’s Sun­burn Fes­ti­val, Nikhil Chi­nappa has his fin­ger in many pies. He’s cur­rently tour­ing Europe, Ber­lin. Nikhil gained pop­u­lar­ity as the host of MTV Se­lect and Splitsvilla, and a judge in the shows Road­ies and Rock on. The mu­sic lover gets can­did with SIM­PLY CHEN­NAI.

When did your pas­sion for mu­sic re­ally be­gin? What did you grow up lis­ten­ing to?

I don’t even re­mem­ber how it all started. I have been fas­ci­nated by the idea of good mu­sic for as long as I can re­mem­ber. I used to col­lect a lot of cas­settes; grew up on Iron Maiden, Deep Pur­ple, ACDC, Poi­son, Alice Cooper and Ozzy Os­bourne. I then dis­cov­ered dance mu­sic and there’s been no look­ing back ever since.

What is your idea of dance mu­sic at its best? What are your in­spi­ra­tions?

The amount of joy that dance mu­sic has given me is un­par­al­leled. I want to hear mu­sic that en­ter­tains me and chal­lenges me at the same time. A club is a place you go to, when you want to dis­cover new sounds and artistes, when you want to get in­spired. I trav­elled abroad and saw that there was a sense of community among peo­ple vis­it­ing a club. Ev­ery­one wanted to lis­ten to new, emerg­ing artistes, fresh sounds, great va­ri­ety and that’s just what they were play­ing at their clubs. Play­ing that one pop­u­lar song over a pe­riod of 20 weeks again and again is not what club mu­sic is about. This was also the idea that led to my elec­tronic dance mu­sic com­pany, Sub­merge. It was started in 2002 and has grown into a big pro­mo­tions and events com- pany for dance mu­sic in In­dia. Nowa­days there is aware­ness and in­ter­est among peo­ple in In­dia too and it’s good to see that.

How has MTV evolved from cater­ing to a gen­er­a­tion in the early and mid- nineties, to now?

What has evolved pri­mar­ily is the pro­gram­ming, not the phi­los­o­phy. We have evolved to fo­cus on more shows for the youth of In­dia and their en­ter­tain­ment. In the 1990s, when I wanted to lis­ten to Madonna or MLTR, I would switch on MTV and get back to what I was do­ing. But to­day, you would log on to Youtube or lis­ten to your favourite mu­sic on your phone. MTV has changed be­cause your con­sump­tion pat­terns for mu­sic have changed. Now, we have shows like Sound Trip­pin’ and Coke Stu­dio, which fo­cus on non- Bol­ly­wood mu­sic.

Q. What do you miss the most about the MTV of the 90s?

A. I miss MTV Se­lect like crazy. I did the show for 11 years and never got bored of it even once. Even though it in­volved me throw­ing around a silly bas­ket­ball and do­ing crazy things in a stu­dio ( laughs). I got to speak to peo­ple from dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try and I would look for­ward to it ev­ery day for 11 years. That’s the beauty of call- in shows. I’d love to have the show back on air.

Q. What’s it like to have a wife who’s also a DJ?

A. Oh, Pearl’s con­stantly in­spir­ing me to do bet­ter. In fact we first broke the ice over a dance va­ca­tion we had in Europe. She’s my best critic and she pulls me back on track when I play some­thing that’s not up to the mark. While I’m very laid back about my mu­sic, she’s ex­tremely fo­cussed and dis­ci­plined!

Q. You’ve had a short tryst with cinema with films like Snip and

Shai­tan. Can we ex­pect more of you on the big screen?

A. I have come to re­alise that I am not cut out for act­ing. I don’t plan to take up films in a big way. How­ever, I might be do­ing a short role for Be­joy Nam­biar for his up­com­ing film. It has not been fixed yet, though he has told me that I’ll have to get fit for the role. I am sure I’ll en­joy work­ing with him.

Q. The nightlife in Chen­nai has al­ways been con­sid­ered mel­low by some. Now, with the gov­ern­ment’s 24- hour liquor per­mit to five star ho­tels, which is par­tic­u­larly aimed at vis­it­ing tourists, do you think mind sets are go­ing to change?

A. I think it’s cer­tainly go­ing to be ben­e­fi­cial for peo­ple. How­ever, al­low­ing peo­ple to drink for 24 hours is not go­ing to change their drink­ing pat­terns and habits. Drink­ing re­spon­si­bly is a choice an in­di­vid­ual has to make. We do need strict laws in place for in­stances like drunken driv­ing, but I don’t be­lieve a per­mit such as this will make any­thing worse. It’s an in­di­vid­ual’s call. Q. What are your fu­ture plans? A. Cur­rently, I’m de­vot­ing my at­ten­tion to my ra­dio show – In the Mix with Nikhil Chi­nappa that airs on Ra­dio One across Chen­nai, Ban­ga­lore, Pune, Mum­bai, Ahmed­abad, Kolkata and Delhi. The show in­tends to be as en­ter­tain­ing as it is ed­u­cat­ing about mu­sic.

( Nikhil Chi­nappa was re­cently in Chen­nai to play at the Sun­down Party at Pasha, The Park)

H K RA­JASHEKAR/ www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

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