Creating a musical world
Indo-American DJ Niles Hollowel-Dhar better known by his stage name KSHMR has embarked on his debut tour of India featuring performances in six...
Indo-American DJ Niles Hollowel-Dhar better known by his stage name KSHMR has embarked on his debut tour of India featuring performances in six cities, with Hyderabad fifth leg of the tour held on October 28. Ahead of his performance, the DJ and record producer from California shares the details of his tour and more…
What are your expectations from your debut India tour?
I'm really looking forward to finally connecting in a meaningful way with my Indian fan-base who supported me since the very beginning, who I've held the deepest connection with. To see that relationship culminate in India over this six-city Sunburn Arena tour, that’s what I'm looking forward to. These are going to be more intimate shows than Sunburn, and Sunburn up until now has been my only experience with playing in India. I think this is going to be different and it's going to be very special.
You're of Indian origin and this is the first time that you will be visiting the sub-continent, so what is on your 'to do list' when you are in India?
I think we're going to be just in the middle of the Diwali celebrations and I think it will all blend into one, I know excitements and emotions are going to be running very high with the performance, for me and for my crew. I've never actually been in India at this time. I only have seen it through pictures from my grandpa and this will be a first for me, so I'm very excited.
From Niles Hollowel-Dhar to KSHMR, how has been the journey so far?
I got to where I am now, I think, was in large part helped by the fact I took the first year where I did not perform and simply made music. I made so much music, not all of it was good but the songs I thought were the better of the bunch, they came out and I think they were good takeaways.
I was just making so much music and that was the advantage I had over other DJs, because as soon as you begin touring, the time you're able to allot to creating new music dwindles, it dwindles exponentially, and you're really fighting this battle between you know, making a living from producing and DJing, which entails performing to make a living or you know you're going to make new music which in the long run is going to be the thing that keeps you afloat and keeps you making a living but that's more macro, and it can be easy to forget about, and you can wake up and not really have a career anymore because you spend so much time on the road and chasing the money, and in the end you might feel it was a bit myopic, because you ran out of songs that people enjoyed and all of a sudden the shows dried up and I think the biggest advantage I had was just to be able to focus on the music for so long. Doing that enabled me to play shows where I was playing mostly, if not all of my own music.
What is the idea behind your stage name KSHMR?
KSHMR is a reference to my heritage. While growing up my grandpa would tell me you are Kashmiri, we came from Kashmir, and none of this meant much to me when I was young, because when I was young I just wanted to fit in.
I didn't want to be different, as many young people don't, and then I grew up, and as many people do, they grow up and begin to appreciate the things that made me unique and my heritage and I was not feeling that I wanted to make a project about me so much, about my face and staking the claim that I was going to be the star.
But I wanted to create a world, and KSHMR to me, aside from the territory that exists in reality, is now is a world that I've constructed to an extent, to compliment the music and to give context to the music it's a place for the music to live in. It's a combination of my heritage and my want to create a world rather than a pop star or a DJ star.
How does EDM world compare to the pop sphere you were operating in before?
It's really naked and [emphasises] pure creativity, even more than the pop world. The pop world is really a measure of how well your songs do on the largest scale—how well it charts in the United States of America. Whereas, in dance music you're really measured by the success of the community that you're interested in.
You're measured by your success in the trap community; you're measured by the success in the more EDM genre. In dance music, you can do whatever it is that you're passionate about and find an audience. There won't be a pressure that every release needs to be a hit to everyone. That kind of pressure doesn't exist and that was one of the almost baptising feelings to go from the pop world to a EDM culture, where the rules are so much more ambiguous and the freedom was so much greater.
When did you realise that you want to become a DJ?
My childhood dreams consisted of being an author. I also wanted to be a football player, but I stopped growing. I didn’t think I was big enough. I fell deeper into music with the more hardships I experienced. It became a place for me to clarify my thoughts by hearing other people speak through lyrics and instrumentals. Soon enough I wanted to make music.
As a kid I was always really obsessed with taking something that I liked and doing it myself, and with music, it was just like that. I was really concerned with the final product…not just making a song, but I was obsessed with it being on a CD. I would spend just as much time figuring out how to burn songs to a CD, how to put a nice label on it, and putting it in people’s hands at school.
Out of all the notable collaboration you have done, which one has been the most memorable and why?
You know I worked for a long time with Enrique Iglesias and I was struck by how humble and how relatable he was and how much he just cared about making good songs. He would be there for the nitty-gritty of it all. He wasn’t just one of these flashy guys that just showed up when it was time to sing his part after the hit song and made for him, he wanted to be there from dusk until dawn, chasing great songs, trying to find the great songs and it was a real pleasure and honour working with him.
Would you like to collaborate with Indian DJ's and musicians?
On the EDM side there are DJ’s like Zaeden, Lost Stories. Aside from them, I think Sonu Nigam is just one of the most talented singers, not only in India but in the world. He’s also the kind this person, I'm almost tempted to say he's the nicest person I've ever met. And I'm a huge supporter of him and we have a song together now.