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“I have recently focused more on original songs for artists and films” – DJ AKS

Photo Credit: Supplied

DJ AKS, DJ and music producer, who was previously based in Dubai, has now moved to Dhaka, Bangladesh. Known for his fast-paced remixes such as “Ishq Wala Love” (‘Student Of The Year’ (2011)), “Be Intehaan” (‘Race 2’ (2013)), “Piku Title Track” (‘Piku’ (2015)), he has been remixing for over 17 years now. In this interview, he opens up about the changing trends in Bollywood and the pop scene, his entry into composing original music and recent changes in music production.

What have you been working on lately?
On the music front, I have composed the Miss Universe Bangladesh Theme Song, “Confidently Beautiful” featuring Nowsin Brinty and Muttaque Hasib. There is the “9xM Mashup” out on Zee Music Company, Fabio2u’s “Summer Jam” and Mumtaz’s “Chalok Remix”. I am also working on some upcoming singles for DJ Suketu, DJ Udita Goswami, Tahsan, Oyshee, Parvez and Mehreen. On the events front, I have led Deep In Dhaka and also worked on the music for Zurhem Fashion Show. Coming up, there is “So Gaya Yeh Jahan (Remix)” from Neil Nitin Mukesh’s new film ‘Bypass Road’ and I am also organizing the Bangladesh EDM Festival.

Why did you move from Dubai to Bangladesh?
Out of three cities I have lived in Dhaka, Dubai, Mumbai, Dhaka seemed to have the perfect balance between work and personal life where I could be based in and work on both local and international music.

Your Bangla song “Nishchup Protichchobi” sung by Mahtim Shakib from Bongo Original Web Series ‘Wedding Bells’ is a well-composed song. How did this song happen?
The Wedding Bells’ director Ehsan Kabir was looking for a fresh romantic song and so we thought of getting Mahtim Shakib on board to sing it.

What is your take on recreating old songs?
There is nothing wrong in recreating old songs as long as it adds value to the original song or retains the nostalgic value. In fact why not just remix songs that have been forgotten instead?

How would you have remixed “Shehar Ki Ladki” differently?
The original had a very fresh sound in those days. I would definitely have used the bass, synth patterns from the original, which according to me was the life of the song giving it a slight Daft Punk sound.

DJs have now turned into music composers and producers. What do you think of this new trend?
As long as one is creative enough to connect with the audiences, I don’t think it matters if it’s a DJ turned into a composer. More people now have access to tools to create music with minimal effort and this means there will be more talent than platforms. In the end quality music with a story will prevail.

What do you think of the current crop of Bollywood music directors?
It’s a bit difficult to follow a single music director like before as they would come up with complete Original Soundtracks (OSTs) but now it’s more of mixed composers. I liked the composers behind the soundtrack of ‘Kabir Singh’, ‘Gully Boy’ and ‘Padmavati’ in recent times.

How is the Bangla music scene?
Bangla music is mainly driven by the folk, pop and rock scene. There is an equal presence of commercial and underground scene. Of course social media platforms have created a more parallel market for all genres to persist.

What has changed with the current remixes in Bollywood?
If you listen to the remixes done by Bally Sagoo and the early ones, they had retained the original flavour and made it sound as good, if not better. With more filmmakers and labels focussing on remakes/remixes and sequels, I think it’s getting difficult for music composers to work on new styles. Remixes should be seen as a deal breaker to introduce new ideas, sounds and genres into the music scene instead of simply doing it.

You and DJ Suketu started a while back. How is your collaboration going these days?
We started working together in 2005 and have been collaborating ever since. Recently we worked on few originals and remixes for Bollywood and the pop scene.

You have been in the industry for such a long time. What changes you dislike?
Lot of things have changed how music is made, heard and distributed. The one thing I dislike is the lack of patience for listeners to let a song grow on you and the demand for viral songs.

Which DJs on the international scene do you follow and respect these days?
Some of the DJs and music producers I listen to these days are Zedd, Calvin Harris, Diplo, Marshmello, Alan Walker, KSHMR, Snake, Black Coffee, Solumun, CamelPhat, Duke and Dumont.

Tell us a little bit about the recent changes in music softwares.
There have been many new softwares, plugins and techniques to produce in the market. But the most important change that has happened recently are Cloud based plugins and websites that have helped making music more cost effective. However I feel less is more and it’s better to stick to few but tools that one really knows how to use.

Are you happy how your music career is shaping up?
After having done music arrangements and remixes, I have recently focused more on original songs for artists and films. This also includes starting up my own independent label – Reaks Records and organising new events.

Do you have any new hobbies?
Binge watching Netflix and Salsa dance.

Would you like to compose for a Bollywood flick?
Yes for sure, I am already in talks with a few labels/banners.

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