Ashvin Mani Sharma, aka Calm Chor, is one of the most respected and long standing techno artists in the country. We caught up with the Soupherb boss in an exclusive interview discussing his past and future. He also recorded for us an exclusive podcast which you can also find at the end of the interview.
Hi Ashvin. Pleasure to have you with us. When did you start djing and what was the pivotal moment that led you to take this as a career?
Well, the pivotal moment was definitely me getting my first job as a resident DJ in Almaty, Kazakhstan. I was a resident DJ at a night club called Tequila Sunrise for nearly 9-10 months. This experience taught me all the things i needed to make an informed decision about what i like and what i don’t like as well.
Do you remember your first professional gig? Tell us more about it.
The first gig was at my first night at the club in Almaty. I had never played professionally before so I was very nervous. But i remember starting a bit jerky but by the end of the night I had calmed my nerves and was actually enjoying myself. A lot of vodka helped.
We love the name Calm Chor. How did you come about it? Did you go through a plenty of name trials before settling with this?
It was one of those things that just comes to you. Someone was joking about how i don’t really do any work so it started with that. I think it just came to me and there were no other name trials. I got the sound cloud as soon as i thought of it!
You were part of the pioneering electronic music act Jalebee Cartel and with plenty of success. However it’s a pity that the group is no more. What led you to leave and decide a path of a solo artist?
Well it just sort of happened. After 8 years together we had some creative differences and so found it better to go our own ways. The good thing is that everyone is happy and doing well on their path.
Since everyone embarked in a solo journey and improved over the years with their artistic skills and choices, It could probably generate a huge interest amongst the public if the group came back together. . Have you and the former members ever thought of a revival?
That would also mean at least a week of practice and rehearsal so quite a bit of co-ordination is required for that. The topic has been brought up now and then but nothing has materialised.
Your sets are quite dynamic and multilayered with a good measure of humor thrown in, with the help of digital djing. In the beginning of your career, did u play on vinyls then shift to cdjs and now to digital djing? A lot of new generation djs seem to skip the old school way. What is your take on the debate of analog vs digital in terms of performing? Do you think its absolutely necessary for a new person starting off, to learn djing the old way?
Well i started with psytrance and we used to get this music in the early 90’s from cassettes in the flea market in Goa. We didn’t know track names etc. Then when my interest got heightened i got an md player and had mini discs. from there i moved to CD’s but i learned to play on cd’s much earlier when i was in Russia. I think practice is what makes a DJ better , whether you use digital or analog .. the more you practice and play either for yourself or others, the better you get and understanding the dance floor and reading the dancers. As a DJ that is the most important thing.That and knowing your music inside out.
You started Soupherb Records with fellow techno don, Ash Roy. With the label growing rapidly what has been the best thing that you could take out of it?
When we started the label our own sound was not considered Techno and the music stores started calling it minimal or minimal techno. With the label we have managed to make a movement in terms of the sound that we like and promote and play and now we have a lot more people making and listening to this style. The best thing for us is having such a large number of good artists from India that are associated with us which helps us strenghten the underground music community here at home.
With the Indian music scene having an ongoing explosion at the moment, what according to you are the pros and cons?
Everything is a double edged sword . I have no complaints because where I’m coming from we never had even half these opportunities that the kids today have. There are lots of Pros and lots of Cons according to the decisions you take and the intention with which you take them. There are many talented young artists who understand this and are making amusing music as well as directing their careers well so I’m glad to see that.
Favorite Indian artists?
Jitter , Folic state
What other things interest you besides music and art? Any other passion or hobbies?
I played a lot of sports in school and college and i still enjoy that. I’m pretty much ready to play any sport any time.
A tricky question for you. Coffee or vodka?
Coffee any day.
A non electronic music track that you would love to remix?
This is a hard one … I have too many that i keep trying …
Black - Wonderful Life , So many Beatles songs , there’s just too many !
Thanks for taking your time out with this. Last words for our readers and advices for the upcoming generation of artists?
There are no shortcuts . Work hard and enjoy what you do. It shows in your work. Music and Art are collaborative not competitive sports.
On 26th April 2019