Interview with Reggae Rajahs (New Delhi)

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NiceUp talks to New Delhi based crew, the Reggae Rajahs, about the emerging reggae and dancehall scene in India.

Can you tell us a bit about the Reggae Rajahs – where are you from, how did you start out and what are you all about?

We are New Delhi based, but have all lived abroad and been exposed to music from all over the world. Diggy Dang – born in Delhi, grew up in London, Manila, and the Philippines. Mr. Herbalist – born in Delhi, grew up in Singapore and Boston. Mo City – born in Baghdad, grew up in Delhi.

 It all started  at a Bob Marley tribute gig in New Delhi on the eve of the legend’s birthday, February 5 2009.  DJ Mo City and DJ Bellyas from Housewive’s Choice (Melbourne, Australia) were selectors for the evening. Diggy and Mr. Herbalist were present and it was their first reggae experience in India after coming back to their hometown from college. 

The rest is history, we collectively decided to start a community and a sound system to help promote reggae music in India.

The Indian reggae scene is probably pretty unknown to most New Zealander’s – can you tell us a bit about what the scene is like over there – where is it all happening, who are some of the main players, what kind of sound goes down well, and how are things changing and developing?

The scene its infancy at the moment. But many soundsystems are now emerging around India, like Dakta Dub (Monkey Sound System) in Hyderabad, Low Rhyderz in Goa, and BassFoundation in Delhi, which includes Indian raggamuffin vocalist Delhi Sultanate.

There is also India’s first ska/rocksteady band, The Ska Vengers, where Diggy Dang handles guitar duties and Delhi Sultanate takes care of vocals  We continuously host artists, selectas, and soundsystems that are travelling through India.

In terms of what kind of sound goes down well, we have to vary our tracks and vibes from gig to gig. Since reggae is a relatively new genre for Indian audiences, it is important that we play audiences familiar tunes i.e. Sean Paul or Mr Vegas. Also, for club nights, we tend to generally play more dancehall sounds, because Indian people love to dance and find it easier doing so with straight up dancehall rather than vibing to some roots.

In Delhi for example, we have been introducing our sound for a while now and are able to mix up dancehall and also more relaxed tunes, while still keeping the crowd grooving. I think to fully appreciate reggae you have to understand the full musical spectrum that it covers, and eventually we should be able to mix all sorts of sounds into our nights in every Indian city we play.

Do the Rajahs also produce?  Are there any Indian producers/vocalists in particular that stand out for you?

We don’t produce under the Reggae Rajahs label yet, but it is definitely in the pipeline in 2012.

We have worked with Nucleya, who is a dubstep producer, and has remixed one of our Alborosie dubplates. We are also keen to work with other drum n bass producers in India such Mental Martians and B.R.E.E.D.

Who are some of your favourite outernational artists/crews?  Are there any people in particular you have been linking up with?

Well we linked up with New Zealand’s Heart Offishal from Newtown Sound last year, which was great! We have also done shows with big sounds such as Mungo’s Hi Fi (Scotland), Blessed Love (Germany) and Heartical Sound (France).

We would love to link with more sounds based in Asia such as Mighty Crown (Japan) so we can bring more artists to India and other parts around the Asian Sub continent.

Do many reggae artists tour India?  Have there been any tours that stand out for you?

We continuously host artists, selectas, and soundsystems that are travelling through India. Our last tour with Soom T, Mungo’s Hi Fi and Mr. Williamz was a great learning experience. Also our show with Apache Indian last year was pretty phenomenal.

So how did the connection with Mr Williamz come about, and how did the tour go?

We have been working with Mr. Williamz promoting his music to the Indian massive for the last two years.

He regularly sends his tunes, and records dubplates for our sound, and some of them became anthems at our dance, so it was the right time to bring him down for some shows around India.

The tour went really well. We did 7 shows in 5 cities over 10 days. The tour included Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Goa and Delhi. You can read more about it on www.mrwilliamz.com

And what’s coming up for the crew in 2012?

Bringing more of our favourite artists to India! A compilation of exclusive remixes and specials.

Traveling overseas, possibly Bangkok, Indonesia or Malayasia, to make dem Asia links.

Any last words for the massive?

Keep it conscious, keep it irie. Bless up every-time.

More info:
Reggae Rajahs website
SoundCloud page
Twitter page
YouTube page
Facebook page

(Photo Credits: Vijay Kate)

Venus Hi Fi

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