Last Saturday’s Andaz was totally unique. Except for once when
Anjali had to cover for me while I flew down to LA to DJ a wedding
we have always had a one-hour-on, one-hour-off rotation policy. I
had flown in on Friday night from NYC but Anjali wasn’t flying in
until Saturday night, the night of Andaz. Sure enough her plane
was late and she didn’t arrive to the Fez to DJ until after
12:30am. I was in the booth DJing for 3 and 1/2 hours. Now I am
no stranger to shifts as long as 8-10 hours. Back in my house
party days (Hey, I’m still up for them, I just rarely get the
opportunity these days.) I would go from 7pm-5am. But after 3 and
1/2 years of DJing Andaz where I have never played more than an
hour at a time it was a real difference to play for many hours
The most obnoxious element of the experience was a woman who kept
requesting “nice Hindi Panjabi pop.” What the hell is Hindi
Panjabi pop? I know Hindi pop, I know Panjabi pop, but Hindi
Panjabi Pop? Are there two vocalists and one is singing in Hindi
and one is singing in Panjabi? Is this some new fusion music I’ve
somehow entirely missed in my years of ransacking Indian music
stores both in North America and India? To make matters worse she
couldn’t name a single artist or song that fit the requirements of
what she was requesting. Not that this vagueness kept her from
coming back again and again. She claimed what I was playing was
“too Hip-hop, Panjabi Hip-hop” and not “pop.” Meanwhile another
dude was coming up requesting Hip-hop, so apparently my selections
weren’t Hip-hop enough for at least one member of the crowd.
To make matters worse she suggested that I play some of the “nice”
selections that Anjali plays on her radio show. Well, I had to
explain that it is OUR radio show and OUR selections. In fact,
I’m the one responsible for the majority of the pop content. It
would be a lot more abstract and drum’n’bass if I wasn’t involved.
I force a lot more current Hindi pop on to the show than Anjali
would desire left to her own devices. Current Hindi pop (if it
isn’t an exception like “Kaja Re”) is either Hip-hop or techno.
Maybe the insistent booth-crasher likes the techno stuff and not the Hip-hop, what do I
know, I’m not a mind reader, as her many unhappy visits to the DJ
booth made clear.
What is so difficult about DJing Indian music these days is the
voluminous quantity of it coming out these days geared towards a
dance floor. Anjali and I have always had enough hard Bhangra to
play uninterrupted for days, but there didn’t use to be so much
dancefloor friendly Bollywood material. Now a common format for a
Hindi soundtrack is 6 songs and then 6 remixes. I bought 5 some
new soundtracks like that in one go at Jackson Heights in addition
to all the other soundtracks with unremixed dance hits on them.
No matter what I end up playing at Andaz I am haunted by all the
hundreds of songs I could have played but didn’t. If I play a lot
of tried and true songs then I regret not playing more brand new
stuff. If I play a lot of brand new stuff than I regret not
playing more stuff that people might know and respond to
better. After one Andaz Anjali commented that I didn’t play a
single song before 2004.
After any Andaz I can name a huge list of essential artists that
we hardly played. Many times we realize that our favorite artist
didn’t even get a single song aired during the six hours of the
party. Part of it is that there is simply such an enormous amount
of music and part of it is the many different directions the crowd
wants to drag the DJ, almost all of them familiar and over-done.
Rarely do these directions coincide with what Anjali and I would
chose to do. We have our own preferences which are unusual and
The DJ wants to play the newest songs that they are excited about
and the crowd invariably wants to hear the most familiar and
overplayed songs with which they can sing along.