Every week ChiChi212 will be getting In The Booth with Manhattan’s hottest DJs to learn what makes their turntables spin. This week, one of my favorite people on twitter, DJ Kalkutta.
BM: How did you choose your DJ name?
KALKUTTA: I was born in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, lived in an orphanage there and was adopted into the States. so basically it’s homage to the city and culture that I came from. I spell it as a hybrid of the (British) English and Hindi spellings, since I was born to Indian parents and raised by an American woman.
BM: Would you consider DJing a full-time job or a hobby?
KALKUTTA: Full-time! I don’t even think you CAN do it as a hobby and play the New York event/club circuit- this is SERIOUS mane!
BM: What do you do during the day?
KALKUTTA: Do my best to stay out of trouble! I spend a lot of time going through music and I also am honing my production skills. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t procrastinate on the internet- between the blogosphere and the vortex that IS online shopping, I fall victim to the trap! Sometimes DJ Louis XIV comes over and we scout for potential boyfriends from my fire escape in the East Village (so far unsuccessful). Also, I eat. A lot. It’s all very glamorous, I know.
BM: When did you know you wanted to be a DJ?
KALKUTTA: The first time I ever tried it, which is crazy because I was using vinyl (no Serato) and didn’t know how to beatmatch so obviously I sounded like WretchFest. Despite all that, I guess I was inspired! It made me feel like a rock star!
BM: Fill in the blank: If you couldn’t be a DJ, you would be a__________:
KALKUTTA: Bollywood Superstar, of course!
BM: What DJ(s) did/do you look up to and have you ever met them?
KALKUTTA: Oh man, so many- but first and foremost: Mel DeBarge!! Mel is such an awesome DJ that when you hear him you’re like “You’re not just good at deejaying, you’re good at LIFE.” The man will play “Roxanne” at 2 a.m. to a packed club, and somehow it works. Who does that?! Mel is a good friend of mine and pretty much put me on the map altogether as DJ. Also DJ Kiss is a huge inspiration- no she-jay is doing it like her right now! She’s one of the dopest females in the game, hands down, and I’m glad to call her a friend. Definitely worth mentioning are Cassidy, Cha-Chi, MOS, Terry Urban, Mick Boogie, Klutch, Silver Medallion, Price, Ruckus, and Mark Ronson- all of whom I know other than Ruckus and Mark. I’d also like to mention Soundwavve here- these guys DJ on Lemurs (the same crazy space machines that Daft Punk and Justice use), which is both next-level and extremely inspiring.
BM: How would you describe your DJ style and what’s your favorite type of music to spin?
KALKUTTA: I flip songs FAST, especially during primetime. It can be girly, but when I go in on a hip hop set I get HOOD. It’s been said that “Creativity is connecting the seemingly unconnected,” and I like to implement that theory in my sets a lot, switching from rock to hip hop to 80’s as seamlessly as I can. Right now I’m loving spinning electro too!
BM Complete this sentence: I can’t go into the booth without ______________.
KALKUTTA: My mojo!
BM: What type of food do you crave when your set is finished and where do you go to get it?
KALKUTTA: Chocolate cake with or without ice cream. Chocolate chip pancakes and waffles are also acceptable options.
BM: If someone wants to request a song, say because it’s their birthday, how should they do it? With cash? Via twitter? With the song written on their boobs?
KALKUTTA: Ah, requests. There’s no real great way to go about these because all deejays pretty much feel the same about them, but cash never hurts! I don’t look at boobs that much, so that one probably wouldn’t work on me. Twitter is a nice way, though. I’m not mad at that at all. Plus, I can always pretend I didn’t see it. Oh, and if you’ve come up with the brilliant game-changing idea for me to play “Say Ahh”, just slow your roll. I’ll get there.
BM: What three songs do you wish you never had to hear again?
1. Bad Romance
2. Empire State of Mind
3. Anything by Soulja Boy
BM: What three songs am I missing out on by not having them on my iPod?
1. “Dancehall Queen” or “Fembot” – Robyn
2. “Lisztomania (Clasixx Remix)” – Phoenix
3. “Somebody Gonna Get Pregnant” – NinjaSonik
BM: If you could produce a song for any artist who would it be and why?
KALKUTTA: Andre 3000. He is my favorite rapper of all time, and other than Michael and Prince, probably my favorite artist of all time. He encompasses all genres while maintaining his own distinct style on any track.
BM: If you could curate the soundtrack to any movie, what would it be?
KALKUTTA: Probably a movie about crazy people like ‘Girl, Interrupted’.
BM: What’s your dream gig?
KALKUTTA: Perfecting my production skills and alternating between spinning and producing projects/gigs that I am truly passionate about like Diplo or Mark Ronson.
BM: What’s your favorite city to DJ in (aside from New York?)
KALKUTTA: I had an amazing time spinning in Vegas. Everything is so big out there- I feel like I’m in ‘Honey, I Shrunk the DJ’!
BM: What are your favorite clubs to spin in NYC?
KALKUTTA: I love spinning at the Eldridge, which is pretty much where I got my start. It’s small, intimate and owner Matt Levine encourages DJ’s to play what WE listen to rather than spin an auto-pilot club set. I also like RDV- the crowd is always awesome there, full of real music lovers.
BM: Would you ever play Hanson in your set?
KALKUTTA: Without a doubt. When I was a pre-teen, I truly thought I was going to marry Zac one day. I mean, technically it could still happen. Ed. Note: Try telling that to his wife and two kids! One can dream though…
BM: What is the worst part of nightlife?
KALKUTTA: Shade. There are so many people clamoring to the top of various parts of this scene, you never know what people will do to get there, and at who’s expense.
BM: What is the best part of nightlife?
KALKUTTA: Rockstardom. The rush of rocking a room full of people, and manipulating their mood through sound. In a split second you can get hundreds, even thousands of people to just completely let loose.”No one man should have all that power….” unless you’re a DJ!!
BM: What’s your next career move or will you DJ forever?
KALKUTTA: At some point I will probably fully transition into production, but love spinning so much that even then I will still probably do special events from time to time. Right now I’m looking to hit the road- spin in places like Paris or Dubai.
BM: Any projects you’d like to promote?
KALKUTTA: Yes! 2 things- DJ Louis XIV and I have a “crew” that actually just consists of us. What do you get when you put together a would-be Bollywood superstar and adorable Jewish hipster? Punjewbi MC. And we have a mixtape coming out soon called “Don’t F*****g Tell Us What To Do.” I also do a mixtape series called ‘SlumDog Trillionaire’, and the second installment of that will be out within the next week or two as well. Ed. Note: Punjewbi MC? I LOVE IT!
BM: Where can I stalk you in the internet?
BM: Where can I listen to your mix tapes?
BM: What’s your fun fact?
KALKUTTA: I went to boarding school. It was like Gossip Girl meets Harry Potter, which are two of my favorite things EVER. And my high school sweetheart was the only Indian guy in my grade. We were basically like the Bollywood version of Chuck and Blair. It’s cool if you think that’s adorable.