Going live

Oct 31, 2018, 07:24 IST | Shunashir Sen

A veteran DJ in the Indian electronic circuit talks about playing instruments on stage before his debut live set this weekend

Going live

Let's start by getting the definition of a "live show" out of the way. Ordinarily, you'd picture a band with guitars, drums, a keyboard, etc, singing their tracks on stage. Or you could imagine a singer-songwriter holding forth alone, or maybe a bunch of classical or folk artistes playing traditional music. Either way, a key criterion is that the performance isn't pre-manufactured - what you hear being created before you is what you get.

But, the definition of a "live show" enters slightly ambiguous territory when we enter the domain of electronic music. Here, every note that reaches your ears as the audience isn't being produced then and there. Some of the sounds have indeed been pre-recorded. They aren't being played live in the strictest sense of the word.

Gaurav Malekar
Gaurav Malekar

Sometimes, however, the artiste introduces analogue elements in his set. He may play a drum machine, a moog synthesizer or an electric guitar to add a sense of effervescence, which makes it a one-time-only musical performance catered for you, the audience member at the gig. So what if some of the sonic layers were recorded earlier in a studio? The experience still fits within the parameters of a live show because the musician opens himself up to the possibility of human imperfections - and that is where the crux of this definition lies.

So now that we have hopefully cleared things up, it helps put Gaurav Malekar's upcoming gig in better context. Malekar has been DJing for over a decade now under the moniker of BLOT!. He started off in the mid-noughties and over the years, has built a formidable repertoire of original tracks that fall under the techno and house music bracket. BLOT!, in fact, sits alongside acts like Nucleya and Midival Punditz as one of the foremost names in the Indian electronic circuit. But Malekar is now taking a new step in his own evolution as a musical artiste. BLOT! will play a straight-up live set for the first time at the concert this weekend.

The DJ will plug in analogue instruments like the Sequential 6 Synthesizer, Moog Sub 37 and a Fender Rhodes, chopping their sounds into the studio tracks he's made over the past decade. So, like the lifecycle of a mayfly, it will only be a temporary sonic experience - don't expect to go back home and relive it on the Internet.

What compelled him towards this direction, though? Malekar answers, "It's often quite overwhelming [for a DJ to play live] because you're like a one-man army in terms of the sound, production and mastering. But I feel that I now have enough content to take this next step in the way I perform. And as a DJ, I wanted to melt my boundaries between the studio and my sets on stage. So, my live show is an exploration in that direction - the journey from the studio to the dance floor is more direct. But I really don't know how it's going to turn out on the day."

He adds that there is a sense of performance anxiety that an artiste must overcome about this accompanying uncertainty. "Playing these instruments in the controlled environment of a studio and then playing them live before an audience with short attention spans gets tricky. So, you need to get over the fear, which is easier said than done because I'm feeling a bit scared too. But it has its own rewards, I guess. And to get to the next level, I anyway can't confine myself to the safe zone I have created for myself," Malekar says, meaning that he, too, is now ready to expose his own possible imperfections before people, at a bona fide live electronic show they will experience.

ON: November 2, 10 pm
AT: Famous Studios, Shakti Mills Lane, Mahalaxmi.
LOG ON TO: tickets.redbull.com to RSVP

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