We sit down with SURAJ to talk about his introduction into producing, and what to expect from him in 2016.
Suraj is someone who represents house music in it’s purest form. If you’ve gone out anywhere in Nairobi in this past year, you’ve probably found yourself grooving to the sounds of Suraj’s contemporary electronic tracks that he so effortlessly infuses with traditional musical elements.
His most recent remixes are a series of collabs between himself and the band, Sarabi featuring the songs ‘Koko’s Vibration’ & ‘Fire’. We caught up with Suraj as he looks forward to success in 2016
WGL: 2015 has been a big year not only for your personal growth, but for your brand as well. Recently you’ve ventured into production. Was it a smooth transition from mixing to creating your own?
Yes, 2015 has been a big year for me, I released two remixes, launched my podcast series, Savanna Sessions and my residency with Foozak at the new Brew Bistro Rooftop Lounge in Westlands. My transition from DJ to becoming a DJ/Producer was made easier by my decision to work on, and then releasing my remixes of Sarabi’s ‘Koko’s Vibration’ & ‘Fire’, first before venturing into my own original productions.
WGL: In your remixes with the band, Sarabi, we hear a harmonious fusion of both of your unique styles. What was the process you went through to create such a perfect blend between Sarabi’s energetic songs, and your own electric approach?
I really liked the original versions of ‘Koko’s Vibration’ & ‘Fire’ from the moment I heard them and I knew I had to remix them both.
When working on my remix of ‘Fire’, I choose to collaborate with London based producer, Riot Stereo and we sent the project file back & forth between us until we thought it sounded right. All along we knew we wanted to keep the original vocal but give it a more rhythmic & repetitive undertone that works well on dance floors. For my ‘Koko’s Vibration’ remix, I really liked the guitar riff when I first heard it & I choose to make it the focus of my remix, which it is.
WGL: Of the remixes you’ve released, which do you most identify with and why?
I would have to say that I identify with both my remixes, as I think they both show a perfect balance of rhythm & melody.
WGL: Do you feel like creating an original sound for yourself has set you apart from other deejays in the industry?
Yes, it has. The signature sound I am trying to craft is an important part of my identity as a DJ/Producer.
WGL: People often complain that Nairobi (Kenya) doesn’t have a “sound” to lend to an international market. Do you think that by artists collaborating with Dj’s it’s easier for their music to reach a larger global audience?
Not necessarily but collaborations certainly allow for new sounds to become relevant to audiences that’s never heard it before. As a DJ/Producer, I feel I am in-sync with the latest trends in sounds & production techniques & that definitely helps define my signature sound on solo and collaboration projects.
WGS: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the coming year?
You can definitely expect some more music out this year. My podcast series, Savanna Sessions will be resuming after its hiatus too.