Playing it by ear
Article from the Sun daily by Jason Lim (posted on 9 Aug 2019)
AS A DJ, 26-year-old Roshan Menon has devoted endless hours to hunting down new and progressive music on the internet, curating and remixing original tracks for his upcoming gigs.
The music entrepreneur also co-founded two music platforms. In 2016, he helped start SaturdaySelects, a multidisciplinary collective, record label, events and artiste management company offering future beats and sounds, and creative agency.
And in July last year he started Dua Radio, which features music by artistes from across the globe.
He recalls: “For the longest time ever, I’ve been playing Virtual DJ on my laptop but I didn’t know what I was doing.
“Eventually, I set apart some time to really learn how to DJ properly, because at the time when SaturdaySelects first started, we needed someone to be the first artiste to play under the label.”
He is also an exceptional self-taught photographer, as his Instagram handle @thebeardedcameragod would suggest.
How did you come to establish SaturdaySelects and Dua Radio?
“I started SaturdaySelects in 2016 when I was studying economics and finance at university. In the beginning, we were just doing parties for artistes and DJs that we knew; at the same time, putting out music for them via SoundCloud.
“Much later, we successfully had our first international booking with Joe Kay, who is the founder of an independent music platform, Soulection, based in Los Angeles.
“We’re very inspired by what he has been doing. Hence, we’re working towards having a similar impact to share new progressive music by consistently bridging visibility between talented DJs and the audience, while curating memorable experiences through underground parties. SaturdaySelects right now is evolving into a creative agency, providing artiste and event management, and creative collaboration.
“Dua Radio, on the contrary, works like a community radio station that functions independently via music distribution platform and streaming service Mixcloud.”
What kind of ‘sound’ do you play?
“As it went ... the more people I met have influenced the kind of ‘sound’ I play, which is Baile Funk – basically Brazilian village music and there are so many other sub-genres under it: Tropical Bass, Afrobeat, Dancehall, and many more. I really like the whole ‘Afro -sound’.”
What does the DJ scene in KL needs more of and less of?
“The DJ scene in KL needs more underground music and venues. Currently, we [only] have bars and clubs like Jiro, Kyo, Iron Fairies and Pisco that support underground music.
“Not saying that mainstream music is wrong; without a doubt, there is a market for that but we need people and promoters like SaturdaySelects, Hoax Vision, and Raising The Bar to [increase] visibility to lesser-known music such as House, Techno, or even Afrobeat.
“We need [fewer] egoistic people. Sometimes DJs have a bit of an ego, there is no harm in being confident, thinking your sets are amazing but if you don’t give others the opportunity, then we as a collective and a community can’t achieve what we want to achieve.”
As a DJ and photographer, is there a clash between their creative processes?
“I started dabbling in photography when I was 19, before I got into music. [I went] from shooting purely on film for fun, to purchasing my first ever digital camera for a job, to now running my record label.
“Over the time, I’ve forgone photography to focus [on] music, but now I realised how essential these two mediums work collaboratively together, as I’m also doing the visuals such as the album cover designs and photography for the artistes under SaturdaySelects.”
What are some of the misconceptions about DJs?
“That we get laid all the time and that all DJs are unhealthy because we sleep late, drink, and smoke a lot.
“I have a group of friends who did a running club in Berlin. So SaturdaySelects decided to do a similar collaboration, titled Run Lah Macha! with Brand New Waves Run Club on a 5km run in KL at night, while playing the playlist curated by Harvinth Skin, which had a great turnout.
“Even most of the DJs I know here in KL work out regularly, play golf, do yoga, and for me, I’ve [been] running for a few months now and have even quit smoking.”
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