Ask a DJ

August 1, 2008

A LOT OF DJING is about the journey-taking your audience to and from different experiences with your music-but when you're just playing other people's records, your opportunities to reach listeners on another level can be limited. As a dub session performer, Kush Arora avoids these styles. As part of the Surya Dub collective, he's focused on taking listeners on a trip through trembling bass, feeding off their energy as they feed off of his. -Mike Gadd

When you perform, what are you trying to accomplish?

The journey is all that I'm about for my live show. I come from doing live experimental music, or drums in bands, so I am always seeking ways to draw the audience away from the commercial vibe of "satisfy me, give me what I know" to "satisfy me, educate me, leave me curious, then bring me back to a place I may know."

What does dub allow you to do that DJing doesn't?

By being a dub session performer, I am deconstructing my tracks and playing out the elements, rearranging them, and allowing people to absorb the density and layers, as opposed to hearing the entire production by itself, finished. That allows me to guide people through where I'm coming from that night, and my transitions between swapping the beat of one song, the vocal of another, and then slowly introducing the melodies and hooks, bass lines between the two and making them dance together becomes apparent.

Do you have any roadies?

I would be lying if I said I had people that follow me to every single show I do, but over time, since I've performed in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and New York City for 10 years, I've gathered a decent group of great folks, friends, music buddies and general lunatics that support what I do. You really need good collectives, groups of artists, and support from homegrown hard work to make things actually happen across the country and the world.

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