You may have already danced to his remixes like “Main Hoon Don” (‘Don’), “Toh Phir Aao” (‘Awarapan’), “Mahiya” (‘Awarapan’), “Zara Sa” (‘Jaanat’), “Zara Zara Touch Me” (‘Race’), “Tera Hone Laga Hoon” (‘Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani’), “Ishq Wala Love” (‘Student Of The Year’), “Be Intehaan” (‘Race 2’), “Piku Title Track” (‘Piku’) and many more. DJ AKS, DJ and music producer, based in Dubai, has been behind the scenes of many charbuster remixes for almost a decade now. He recently composed, with the association of Raja Sagoo, “The Khan Song”, which was released by REAKS Records. In this exclusive interview, he opens up about his journey, Bollywood and his plans for the future.
You have been on the music scene for a pretty long time now. How did it all begin and how is the journey?
I grew up in Dubai listening to music in various languages like English, Arabic, Indian, Pakistani and Bengali. As a teenager, my influences included Chicane, Bally Sagoo, Enigma, Nitin Sawhney, A.R. Rahman and of course commercial Top 40s. I am a self-taught keyboardist musician since I had no formal training or family background in music except for a month’s course learning music notations.
DJ AKS is a pretty groovy name. It sounds mysterious too. Do people still ask you what it means?
AKS means soul’s reflection in Urdu. AKS is actually an abbreviation of my full name Abdul Karim Siraji. I always used it as my initials much before I became a DJ. Yes, people get surprised that it’s actually short for my name and not a made-up one.
Every journey in music requires an initial push. Tell us about yours.
I always paid special attention not to only how music was played, but also to how it was produced. In 1999, I met with DJ KV, who wanted to jam with me. He introduced me to a music production software called Reason 1.0 which helped me shape my ideas into actual tracks. By 2002, I had started making bootlegs which were aired on local radio stations. I later found out that couple of websites had uploaded my mixes in their compilations.
What is your current production setup? What software do you use?
My current production setup is very simple. Just my Mac Book Pro, M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 and a pair of Sennheisser’s headphones. I use Ableton Live and Logic Pro to produce and mix my music.
Your list of remixes in Bollywood is impressive and your sound always stand out from the crowd. How would you describe your style of music production and why do you think it is distinct?
Thanks. I think I have been lucky to work with some of the best in the industry. It’s very hard to define a sound but yes I try to make each of my productions with its own unique arrangement and try never repeat the ideas on the next project. If possible, I try to avoid working on the same genre back to back, so that it keeps my ideas fresh and diverse.
Now to “The Khan Song”, which is a collaboration with Raja Sagoo and which has been released on Qyuki, the record label co-founded by A.R. Rahman. Is there a story how the song came about?
Being with Universal Music India since 2013, I was invited to join a new digital platform created by A.R. Rahman called Qyuki. During my trip to India, I met Raja Sagoo who is an excellent singer, mimic and comedian and specialized in not only mimicking but also looked alike most of the Khans of Bollywood. So we approached the Qyuki team and we began brainstorming on how to execute the song and finally the video was completed and released in September 2015.