DJ Sarj, who is also known as the 'Mix Tape King', the guy that has now made it onto mainstream radio to showcase his talent. The DJ who has a great following on social network sites and who has been influenced from big names such as DJ APS, speaks to SimplyBhangra.com about his journey so far and how it all began.
Where are you from?
I'm originally from Southall (Mini Punjab) in London but have been living in Wolverhampton for most of my life.
So tell us when did you start DJing?
I've always been into making my own music. From mashing up mix tapes to actually creating beats. But to showcase all this I took the DJing route to be able to showcase it to the public. DJing started as a mess about. I then started off at small parties which was about 8 years ago whilst I was in 6th form at school. But on a professional club/Wedding level around 4/5 years ago.
Fabulous, so who and what were your early passions and influences?
Surprisingly my early passions and influences were in Hip Hop Music especially the Dr Dre Era. From then it grew to all angles to Panjabi Mc, Bally Jagpal, and Dj APS as they were contrasting Bhangra with hip hop and that's something that appealed to me and lead me to doing what I do now.
How has your journey as a DJ been? How did it all begin?
It's been incredible. I couldn't have imagined where it would have taken me. From small school hall parties at a young age to DJing in Dubai, BBC London Mela's, Bhangra Showdown and in the best Bhangra clubs in the UK. One of my highlights has to be featuring on Bobby frictions show live on the BBC Asian network on four different occasions and on BBC Radio 1 with Nihal. It's all about patients, loyalty, working hard with a true inner motive within your heart and grafting.
How does it feel to have the label of the 'Mix Tape King'?
Well I have to thank the fans/listeners who enjoy these mix tapes that are listened to all over the globe via Soundcloud. I randomly started getting tweets with the Hashtag "Mixtape King" from various people and it just started from there.
Is DJing a profession or a hobby?
It started off as a mess about by doing mixes on the computer, and it lead to me going out there and DJing to live audiences. It's certainly a profession alongside my other profession I have haha.
What kind of music does DJ Sarj listen too?
Errmmm if I was to say what's on my iPod at the moment, it's a cross between Trap music and Sufi music. There's just a sense of energy with both music and you can connect to it soulfully and it literally takes control of you.
Who has been your inspiration on this journey?
Not sure who to be fair, but I do feel my Mum is watching down from heaven guiding me. So I really do hope I'm making her proud. (RIP Mum)
By the looks of your social network sites, I can tell you have travelled a lot. So tell us where you have DJ'ed. Also does performing in different countries change the type of sets you perform?
Yeah not long ago I was out in Dubai for Surj from RDB's wedding. It was an honour to be asked to do it and recently Dj Sanj's. I do stick to the traditional wedding music but then I do bring in my own element and turn the wedding into a rave!
How do you manage your hectic DJ life, whilst DJing at weddings, clubs, overseas with your personal life?
This is the one question I get asked by everyone lol. Well it's all about working hard, grafting. It's very rewarding. You have to make sacrifices and in these circumstances I do sacrifice my sleep to keep up with DJing, work, friends and family. But once I'm hitched up all will pretty much stop and I'll be living a role of a husband, father and a family man.
So you are definetly enjoying the single life! Let's hope you don't get hitched up soon, we don't want you to stop! So far on your journey, what has been the best moment and why?
I'd probably say there are more than 1. Defiantly DJing at the BBC London mela 2 years in a row, The Bhangra Showdown for Imperial University (Big up Jag The Pardaan) and DJing live on the BBC Asian network and BBC Radio 1.
When beginning to create a remix, how do you start off? How do you plan out the songs, beats etc?
That will be giving secrets away lol... But what I can say is be different and unique. Make it sound good to work on the dance floor and get you hyped up.
What kind of music do you find easy to remix?
If I'm honest nothing is easy. Each genre has the same method of remixing. It comes down to your ideas. Some will like it, some clearly won't. It is hard to please everyone but always best to test yourself and the limits in bringing out something people won't expect.
What makes you unique from the other DJ's?
I think the main reason is because I have my own personal versions to many songs which make them stand out. Most DJ's may play the original but I tend to change it up and have my own identity to it so my set is unique to others.
So if you were up against a DJ in a competition, who would it be and why?
Well I have no idea who I would be up against lol. But I hope it's someone who would bring the best out of me. I think I may have to get Karma UK (Promoters) to organise a DJ battle.
I think we need a DJ battle here in the UK, it sounds like a great idea! So, who does DJ Sarj think is currently a good DJ and why?
There are many out there, all working hard and grafting. Big respect to them all, but if there's anyone I have to choose it is Dj KSR in Canada! He works hard which has helped him dominate the DJ scene in Canada and surrounding countries. I admire that.
So, who will you like to collaborate with?
If there is anyone at the present moment I want to collaborate with it has to be J-Star, A-Kay or Mickey Singh. All 3 are fresh new rising talents and I love their work.
Social network is obviously a very important tool to attract audiences to the product. How much do you depend on it?
Well for me it was a way to interact with followers but recently it has blown up. I guess now I have a fairly huge following, this allows keeping them all up to date with future events and new mix tape releases.
Is it fair to say your music is aimed from teenagers to 30's?
Well I thought it was, and that was the aim. But I have had many people message me and tweet me saying how their MUM love my mix tapes and their uncles and aunties love what I do. So I guess it is aimed at anyone who is into Bhangra.
At this time what are your main challenges as a DJ?
To keep working hard, never giving up. Keep getting the name out there and build a following and hopefully surprise everyone with a cheeky single.
What is it about DJing, compared to, say, creating your own music that makes it motivating for you?
The feeling of a crowed going wild and hyped up to your DJ set or to a remix is incredible. Just experiencing that feeling makes you want to keep doing it. Very rewarding to be able to make people happy through music.
A lot of time is spent when preparing your remixes. Do you think the audience appreciate and know how much time and thought is gone through?
Good question. I don't think they do. Mixing a song, can take up to the same time of producing a song from scratch. Also most nights before DJing I am up pretty late, preparing music and finishing of exclusive remixes to play in my sets.
So are you pressured to come out with a different kind of remix?
I do get requests but I honestly work at my own pace. The more time you take on your product the better it will sound.
I am sure there is a lot but tell us one or maybe two things which you find annoying as a DJ.
Lame requests that don't cater for everyone lol. There's many more but we'll stick with this one lol.
Lol, so what was the last song/ album you brought?
Last song was Bullet by Mickey Singh and Kay v Singh and album was Michael JACKSONS Xscape album.
Where do you see yourself within the next 5 years?
Married with Kids with a beautiful wife and being a family man. This music is temporary if I'm honest.....Or settling in Dubai or Canada and doing music full time.
Aww that's lovely, well we hope to see you making music too. So what are we expecting from the Mix Tape King in 2014?
You can expect the live mix on BBC Radio 1 with Nihal from 4th June online on the BBC iPlayer. As well as that there might be a cheeky 80 min mix tape and possibly a single end of the year.
WOW, so big things happening and I'm sure many of us will be excited for the single. So do you have any tips for upcoming DJ's?
Be unique, study Bhangra like a school subject. Know the history inside out and gain knowledge.
Lastly, any message to the readers of SimplyBhangra.com?
There's nothing more I can say other than a big big big thank you to the followers who have made a small DJ create a following and push my name out there to the public. It means so much to me to know the people out there enjoy what I do, which makes me want to work harder and do more back for them. Those who haven't heard of me which most probably haven't please check out my Soundcloud and twitter to keep up with me and what I do.
Big thank you to you and all the team at SimplyBhangra.com. It's been a pleasure.
Interview by Kulwinder Kaur Kainth.