I prefer staying at home. I like calm and peaceful spaces,” says Nucleya (36). It’s an odd statement coming from someone who’s arguably India’s number one DJ. But then, nothing about Nucleya (real name: Udyan Sagar) is typical. His first solo album — Bass Rani — was launched last year at a Ganesh visarjan event in Mumbai. Nucleya played to thousands of people from atop a giant truck, equipped with huge speakers. His sound – EDM characterised by street music (especially from down south) and occasionally, nursery rhymes too, is, in his own words, “a suicide attempt”. He says, “I’m surprised it’s working.”
But it’s more than just ‘working’. India’s EDM-loving youngsters have lapped up the former Bandish Projekt member’s fresh music. A regular fixture at music festivals and concerts across the country — be it NH7 Weekender or Red Bull Tour Bus — the Delhi-based DJ spends half of the month travelling for shows. The biggest challenge for him as an artist, though, he says, isn’t a music-related one. It’s maintaining the balance between his personal and professional life: “Every time I leave the house to go for a gig, my four-and-a-half-year-old son, Guri, is like, ‘Dad, don’t go.’ I tell him I’m going to be back but he says, ‘Please don’t go’. On an emotional level, it’s difficult to handle such things.”
All in the family
Interestingly, his son’s voice features in the track Aaja from Bass Rani, and he’s credited on the track as Guri Gangsta. “I always wanted to have him on the album in some way or the other. I would keep the recorder on whenever he was in a playful mood. I recorded his voice, manipulated it a little and worked it into the song.”
Nucleya shares that he has taken his son with him for a couple of gigs. His wife, Smriti Choudhary too, accompanies him on tours at times. Nucleya’s entire design identity — right from his album artwork and logo to most of the visuals for his live sets — has been created by her. “She’s an illustrator and graphic designer and has studied at the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad.” Naturally, the tattoo he sports (a cassette tape with the reel coming out of it, wrapping around his arm and going back into it) was also designed by her. “We wanted to gift each other something on our anniversary around six or seven years ago. So, we decided to get a tattoo done,” he says, adding that he intends to get his entire arm tattooed someday.
Nucleya’s musical preference is also vastly different from what you’d expect. Even as he rides the EDM wave that hit the country over the past few years, he remains staunchly critical of mainstream EDM. “It’s played at music festivals because it’s an easy genre to listen to. You don’t require brains to understand it. I personally don’t like or listen to it.”
Back in time
Instead, he prefers music by artists like Ghulam Ali Khan and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and is inspired by Bollywood songs from the ’50s and ’60s. “My father is very fond of music, so there was always music at home. I grew up listening to Kalyanji-Anandji, Laxmikant Pyarelal and Madan Mohan.” And what do his parents make of his new-age EDM tracks? “I think my dad likes a lot of my work. Mum likes it when I appear on TV,” he laughs.
Up next, Nucleya has a few Hindi film projects lined up: two mainstream movies backed by big production houses and an art film. “Some top-notch international DJs have shown interest in collaborating with me as well. I am also working on another album,” he says.
What: Nucleya will perform at the 6th edition of Awestrung on January 29, 8.30pm
Where: Courtyard, High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel
Call: 4333 9994