Gurgaon-based DJ, Zaeden, started playing at age 14, and has already been to the EDM mecca, Tomorrowland. But back in school, he used to play instruments like the tabla and the piano.
When we speak to DJ Zaeden (Sahil Sharma; 21), he’s at his residence in Gurgaon, after several days of travel. He was in Dubai earlier this month for a show, then in Guwahati, and later rushed to perform at a show in Delhi, straight from the airport. Luckily, he loves being on the move. “Whenever I’m at home, I begin to miss it. I play an average of 10 shows a month, but since it’s time for college festivals, I’m playing around 15.”
Zaeden is one of the few Indian artists to have played at the prestigious annual music festival, Tomorrowland, in Belgium, last year. He is, as millennials would describe it, killing it. He recalls, “Borgeous (American DJ and producer) invited me to join him on stage for the world premiere of our song, Yesterday. It was amazing to be playing to a crowd of 50,000 people. My sister was in the front row, holding the Indian flag.” He hopes to be invited to play at the festival this year too.
Zaeden also happens to be one of the youngest DJs in the country — he began playing techno music at age 14, learning the ropes by watching YouTube tutorials. “I was listening to a lot of trance then — the likes of Armin Van Buuren and Gareth Emery. Then, all these DJs started to come down and play in India. Going for their shows changed my life. That’s when I decided to be a DJ,” he says.
Electronic music might interest him now, but growing up, he played the tabla in his school assembly and learnt to play the guitar as well as a bit of piano. As a ’90s kid, he wasn’t immune to the charm of the hit songs of the 2000s — including singer Raghav Mathur’s popular dance number, Angel Eyes (2004). In fact, he’s now collaborating with him for an official remix. “I’ve always been a big Raghav fan. He’s coming down this month and we’ll sit together for some music sessions. If I play something really different, [I know] he’ll be open to it. I like that about him.”
He’s also working with Bollywood music director and playback singer Ankit Tiwari (Saheb Biwi aur Gangster; 2012, Singham Returns; 2014) on a song. But he’s not looking to take up more Bollywood projects. “I’ll stick to dance and pop music. However, I want to do Hindi songs with dance music instrumentals,” he says.
Although he has a lot of projects coming his way now, it wasn’t always the case. He had a breakthrough when his remix of Coldplay’s Magic was featured on DJ Hardwell’s radio show, Hardwell on Air. “It happened when I was 18. Fourteen to 18 was the hardest phase,” he says.
As a student of mass communication at Amity University, Noida, he found the course didn’t interest him. “Also, my college was two hours from my house. It was becoming difficult.” So, he quit and studied sound engineering in Mumbai. “It took a bit of convincing but, eventually, my parents let me pursue music,” he says. “My dad is my biggest fan now.” His mother even sports a tattoo of his logo.
Zaeden is contemplating moving to Mumbai for work. “Maybe in the next four months. I have a few cousins and friends there but I’ll really miss my parents. And, also our caretaker,” he laughs. “I’ve never lived alone.”
What: Zaeden will play at Vh1 Supersonic on February 10, 5pm.
Where: Laxmi Lawns, Hadapsar, Pune
Tickets: Rs 1,688 onward on bookmyshow.com