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US bhangra DJ credits family for allowing her to pursue music

india Updated: May 30, 2013 14:48 IST

"Growing up, I really rejected all my South Asian roots," Hursh said from her latest gig in Chicago. "My mom, she always was playing old Bollywood music in the house. I grew up hearing a lot of it but as a teenager I really rejected it. I did not identify as being South Asian at all."

Yet today Hursh and her partner, Stephen Strausbaugh, headline gigs across North America djing everything from South Asian electronic sounds, to Bollywood, Latin, Indian, dancehall, reggae, desi and Punjabi folk as DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid.

The pair will be in Vancouver to DJ at the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration's City of Bhangra Festival Friday June 7 and Saturday June 8.

"It wasn't until after college that I started feeling like I needed to explore my roots," Hursh said.

She began studying classical Indian dance forms but was soon distracted by her love for South Asian music.

"I didn't feel like I was willing to commit decades of my life to studying these dances that I could maybe perform like once or twice a year," she said.

"The satisfaction of performing and having an audience reaction and being able to actually play gigs like all the time - it was much more immediate."So in 2000 she teamed up with Strausbaugh and the pair have been djing weddings, festivals and hosting a radio show and club nights ever since.

"We kind of do everything related to bhangra, djing and dancing," she said. Hursh credits her non-traditional South Asian family for allowing her to chase her "artistic dream."

"I didn't come from a typical South Asian family," said Hursh, explaining that her American father met her mother in India.They married and moved to Portland, Ore.

"Most South Asians come here through a professional route, they immigrate to either go to college or to work in the high-tech industry, or be a doctor, or lawyer, but because my mom didn't come from that realm, she came through marrying an American - a love marriage - she's very much a free spirit that influences my desire to be an artist," said Hursh.