"I can make people do whatever I want."
by SUBEKSHA POUDEL
There's the pressure to write something good, something so good that it does full justice to the man he is. And I struggle. The more effort I put in, the more frequently I use the backspace key. I've had enough, I decide to approach this story with the same outlook that Ankit Kocher has adopted lately: stop trying too hard and things will come to you easily.
And how wonderfully the motto has worked for him; he's been basking in awesome-ness. Universal Religion in Lakhure Bhanjyang, Fusion Electronica with Midival Punditz in Mumbai, a DJ slot at PowerHouse in Singapore … the list goes on. To discuss this and music, we finally settle in on a new restaurant in Pulchowk, Casa Toscana, a little because the place is picturesque and more because they serve 'great' food.
We decide on the drinks, two Shirley's Temple, and start the interview. He's worn a misty green jacket and Ray Ban shades. I'd warned him we'd bring a photographer. Normally for his gigs he has an entire clan to style him, but he later expresses that he likes to "keep it simple and easy".
It required a DJ to thrash Ankit out of a discotheque to realise that music was his thing. He'd always been genuinely interested in music, even as a kid, he "never missed an opportunity to stand up and sing." But at this particular club in Kolkata, when he tried to peep at what the DJ (his idol then) was doing, it pissed the DJ off real bad. Ankit was ordered to **** off. It was then that he knew music was his thing.
But the way up was no cakewalk. Having left home at a young age, the first ten years of his career were a struggle. "I was living like a nomad," he says, "spending nights in train stations and relying on friends for support." But these rainy days moulded Ankit into a very strong person. "I'm glad this happened so early in my life, no doubt the best times of my life."
Music is a religion to him, I observe. "Don't you ever get bored?" He immediately shoots me a glare. "See, I connect with music in a much larger way than normal people. It's not just a track or a person singing, it's a story," he says, his voice mellow. "There's so much new music, so many new artists, new producers, so much stuff that it can never be enough; I cannot EVER get bored, ever," he concludes, emphasizing the V on ever.
When I question him again on what's best about his job, he answers, "I can make people do whatever I want." Like he were a magician casting musical voodoo on partygoers. I'm not sure about voodoo but he surely uses music for some positivism. "Every time I need a mood change, I use music," he says, explaining how he can tranquilise angry people as easily as getting sleepy people on their toes.
We wrap up the interview and chitchat for an hour more. The rapport's built up without any effort; he's not just real easygoing but real fun to talk to. Ankit does not smoke or drink alcohol, contrary to the stereotype of DJ's I've carried about. And not just that, what's more surprising is that he isn't a night person. Well, being involved in nightclubs you'd expect him to be out more often than not. "I have a studio in my house and about 10-12 friends come in every day," he says, "I love to cook, especially North-West frontier style, and we regularly have this indoor fun thing."
We'd started at 5 PM and it's almost 8 PM. We're heading in the same direction so he suggests dropping me off. "Oh ****, I left it in the house!" he exclaims. He's forgotten to bring his new set, Firefly, for me to listen to. I ask if it's the one that can be downloaded from his facebook profile, and thankfully it is.
In between the stops on the way, he shows me the wallpaper of his Nokia E 71. It's a picture of him and his girlfriend; both of them are wearing Aviator shades and smiling into the camera. He'd given the coolest description of love earlier in the interview: "The biggest high mankind could ever have." He then shows me a video of his pet Labrador, Chuzzle, where Ankit, like a father figure, tells him
"He can do anything for food."
"Anything," I ask?
"Yeah, ANYTHING" he explains, in open admiration, like Chuzzle were his little baby.
We make a vague plan to meet for lunch sometime soon. Ankit's getting only busier after this. May - tour of six cities in India, June - gig in Dubai, July - Australia tour and the opening of Audiolife (Asia's premiere sound and audio engineering institute). Here's wishing him all the very best!
Download Firefly, "a blasting concoction of ancient Asian colonial samples tastefully knitted with electronic sounds, well-tooled melodies & experimental elements" from http://www.sendspace.com/file/r0e2z0