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Submerging himself in sound

Nikhil Chinnappa, formerly of Bengalooru, was in town on a mission



Nikhil Chinnappa: `MTV gives me the chance to scuba-dive, shark-dive, party, paraglide, do some DJing in between...' -- Photos: K. Gopinathan

HE'S TIRED of "cheesy Bollywood remixes". He screws up his face and sticks his tongue out, spitting in utter disgust while talking of Mumbai. He insists that he'd be deliriously happy if he were a bartender in a small town.

Nikhil Chinnappa sure plays the Mr. Crazy-VJ to the hilt.

The `rings on ma fings' man is astounded at how his cell phone just stopped ringing the minute he entered Bangalore. "The city just isn't made for work! I feel amazingly lazy, and just want to relax all the time. I have no idea how people get anything done here! I can just say `current went' or `male banthu' and get off work, right?" Eyes half-shut and squatting comfortably, he did look like he'd doze off in a second, but the erstwhile Bengloor huduga was here on a mission — to launch Submerge, his platform for DJs who want to go against the boring grain.


The concept emerged when Nikhil and DJ Pearl sat down discussing music. "I was at a point where, if I heard `Kaliyon ka chaman' one more time in a club, I was going to vomit," shudders Nikhil. So the duo created what they like to call "the underground sound" at Rain, a club in Mumbai. "We decided to develop it into a property to let new musicians join in," he explains, "Submerge is to bring the community of DJs together at a cost of zero. So if you like this music and want to party for free, you have to come in before 11 o'clock. If you walk in like a star at 2 o'clock, then you pay the fare."

When asked if marrying commerce and underground music wasn't sacrilege, pat comes the reply: "See, in India, anything non-Bollywood, is underground. But we will preserve the classic underground sound. And there's no advertising for Submerge." But why do you need ads when an MTV VJ is doing the promotion? "For how long will my name sell? Two years?" Nikhil challenges, "The music has to speak for itself after that. Submerge doesn't have a carrying sponsor, and it never will."

The Submerge sound is a cocktail of house, tribal, funk and progressive, and according to Nikhil, our city is the "home of house music in India". He is sure that if the concept is going to catch on anywhere, it will be in Bangalore.


Whether it has a large audience or not, Submerge seems like a DJs dream come true. For one, no requests are allowed. Er... a tad unfriendly? Nikhil disagrees: "It's kinda rigid, but the point is, we're not out to please people. For some weeks, the DJ will explain Submerge, but after that, no mike work is allowed. No `come on lady, shake your booty!'. Shut up!"

For someone who has a request show on MTV, Nikhil is surprisingly dismissive of subjective taste. He says that a channel must do what popular choice demands. But as a DJ, he's his own man. "If you like bhangra, please go to another club. I will even give you directions and pay your taxi fare. But do not come here and say `why aren't you playing bhangra?'. This is my party. Come here only if you like it." Asked if what he does on MTV is then a compromise, he tilts his head back and laughs: "MTV? Compromise? Are you kidding?? It gives me the chance to scuba-dive, shark-dive, party, paraglide, do some DJing in between... And it's all paid for!"

However much he derides Mumbai, Nikhil sighs that he must go back to the big city if he wants to make money. Meanwhile, Submerge will be carried on in Bangalore by DJ Clement and DJ Vachan.

ROHINI MOHAN

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