If hip hop music evokes gangster tunes in your head, then clubbing at Zenzi Mills on Friday might change your mind. That is what DJ Johnny Deep hopes. “Hip hop in Mumbai is awful. It’s not funky, bouncy or soulful at all. It is a bit cool, gangster style,” he says.
“I think gangster-style hip hop attracts wannabe trash wearing caps back to front. Indian clubs want something for a more upmarket, sophisticated crowd. Yet, some of the best hip hop in the past has been driven by cheeky James Brown samples,” he adds.
The half-Indian, half-British 34-year-old arrived in Mumbai a month after the terror attacks, in December 2008, on a contract with the Taj President to do a residency at Wink. After the residency ended, he decided to stay on.“I just felt the electronic scene was going to really take off in Mumbai,” he says.
But Deep has been frustrated by the clubbing scene. There are “too many jukebox DJs”, he says, “who either play commercial tracks or formulaic music such as hip hop, techno, trance and Bollywood in the space of 10 minutes.
“I would refuse to do that because I love music,” he adds. “In places like Paris and Berlin, upmarket venues get the most cutting edge DJs, yet clubs here will spend more on a chair than they will on a DJ for a whole year. I would like to see more underground DJs in the glamorous venues here and I would like to see more clubs having b***s to play different kinds of music,” he adds.
It is moments such as when Amitabh Bachchan came up to him at Wink, when he was playing downtempo music, and said “Dude, what are you playing? I love this music,” that inspire him. “Nikhil Chinappa described my house set at Sunburn in Goa as his favourite Sunburn moment,” he adds.
Deep specialises in Chicago House, funky techno, deep house, downtempo, hip hop and funky beats.