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“Don’t book Su Real for “sundowners”, it’s all “Turn Up” with Su Real!” – In Conversation With Su Real 

Su Real is a music producer and DJ pioneering new genres such as Trap, Reggaeton, Dancehall and Desi Bass in India. Sharing stages with international artists like Major Lazer, Diplo, Skrillex, Marshmello, and Yellow Claw, the artist represents the era of Indian – origin dance music producers. He recently released his latest single, ‘Hands Up,’ a party Desi Bass anthem, about which he talks in a conversation with us. 

1. Tell us a bit about your project. How did you begin your journey as a singer-songwriter?

In a way, Hands Up is a collaboration between 3 generations. I’ve been DJ’ing for over a decade as Su Real, but in my early 20’s, I was a huge fan of MC Zulu, the “electro-reggae” pioneer based in Chicago (most known in India for his collab with Nucleya and Alo Wala on “Little Lotto”). I used to download all his songs and knew all his lyrics by heart and would sing them out loud walking down the street while bumping them on a ripped CD on my Discman (ah, those were the days!) … Over the last few years, I’ve been collaborating a lot with emerging next-big-thing producer Jayhaan, who met me in his early 20’s because he was my fan, and downloaded all my songs, and so on. So that’s three generations of Global Bass adding weight to one big tune!

2. Which bands/artists were your first love and who is your biggest influence?

When it comes to electronic and dance music, my biggest influence from day 1 has been Diplo. I was living in NYC back in the day when Diplo was a part of Hollertronix and their mash-up mixtapes were changing the game in DJ culture. When I moved back to Delhi, Major Lazer dropped their legendary track “Pon De Floor” (incidentally, on my birthday!), and ever since then I’ve been the #1 Lazer Bass ambassador in India, eventually getting too open for Diplo and Major Lazer during their first few India tours.

3. You recently released a single, ” Hands Up”. Tell us a bit about it. What’s the song about?

Hands Up is a party anthem in the original Desi Bass style popularized by Nucleya, blending Indian folk music with hard-hitting Western club beats, now updated with Jersey Club and Trap rhythms. The song is an international collaboration between Desi Bass pioneer Su Real (Delhi, India) and every South Asian DJ’s favourite remix producer Jayhaan (Mumbai, India). The shehnai and Maharashtrian percussions bring everyone to the dancefloor as the commanding vocals of “electro-reggae” pioneer MC Zulu gets everyone’s hands in the air.

However, there is another side to this song, that you can see in the music video that Nayanika Chatterjee made… Did you know that some of the oldest human art is just handprints up on the cave wall? So, across 3 generations of musicians, I feel like “Hands Up” is us leaving our mark on the Greater Wall of All Sound for future generations… As the soundwaves reverberate across time, penetrating through the atmosphere and out into deep space… As creators of dance music, we leave out mark on those moments where we help people feel a sense of togetherness and pure joy.

4. What is your music-making and recording process like?

Jayhaan had sent me some rough demos. Meanwhile, I had been taking a hiatus from the Indian music scene for a few years. I knew I needed some kind of come-back track that represented my previous style but looked forward to newer directions I want to explore. The basic beat was originally called “Mandap Riddim” because Jayhaan had sampled the shehnai and dholak from some shaadi mandap music in Mumbai. I immediately knew it was the right one, so I flipped it and fine-tuned it.

Lately, the global scene of South Asian DJ’s mixing up desi culture with western beats has just been exploding. I wanted this track to represent the excitement of what’s going on with that. So, I sent it to surefire pro MC Zulu and told him, look I just want a big anthem that DJ’s can play to get the party hype. As always, MC Zulu delivered perfectly.

5. Why do you make music? What drives you as a musician and what are your songs about?

What defines Su Real is the intersections of music with dance and culture and coming together to celebrate life, the universe, everything. I play music to make people dance, particularly South Asian peoples.

In other words, don’t book Su Real for “sundowners”, it’s all “Turn Up” with Su Real!


6. Which Indian bands or artists do you admire? And why?

I’ll tell you which Indian bands or artists I admire… It’s the ones that no one has heard of. That don’t get any preferred playlisting on Spotify. That only have 100 views on their Youtube video. That have less than 1000 followers on Insta. That venues and festivals don’t wanna book. That get ignored by all the idolaters idolizing their idols… Because THAT takes guts – to scream out into the void, hoping, praying, that someone will finally listen… finally HEAR YOU.

The Indian independent scene is full of my heroes. When I was a child in the ‘80s, I could never have dreamed that it would ever be possible to have a career in music in India… (while still maintaining your creative integrity) … But it’s a new era now, and some of us are lucky enough to have manifested those childhood dreams… And some of us will go on to inspire thousands more to pursue their passions – not just in music but in whatever field or whatever high-faluting near-impossible dream they might have…

I’m so bored of all the hype behind the handful of big artists that always dominate the festival headlines and social media feeds. It’s really the thousands of unsung, unheard heroes that keep the dream alive and support the industry as a whole… I thought the Internet was supposed to be democratizing??

That’s why I love Indian Music Diaries, and I wish there were more music media like it about the South Asian scenes worldwide… But the rest is up to us. Start a revolution in your music taste: today, unfollow one big artist, then go thru Indian Music Diaries to find and follow at least three unheard of artists.

That would make you, yourself, a fount of admiration.

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