By: Shelby Lum
DJ Rekha is taking the definition of DJ and changing it completely.
While most may associate the work of a DJ as playing great dance music, DJ Rekha knows that isn’t true–or not completely that is. She has taken dance music and fused it with bhangra, traditional Indian music, pushing the genre even further.
“I grew up listening to disco and hip hop,and then when I was a teenager I was introduced to Southeast Asian music,” she said.
She said she is inspired by not only wanting to make good music, but also wanting to make people dance. Her list of abilities doesn’t end at making people dance though. She is a producer, an activist, and an educator.
DJ Rekha founded Basement Bhangra, a monthly party which has been credited for pushing Bhangra music into the culture of New York City.
“I founded and I produce it every month,” she said. “I guess it’s a party I am very proud of.”
As a major advocate for bhangra, she also understands the qualities necessary for making good dance music.
“We are not necessarily a juke box…I think that’s an ever growing problem,” she said. Her musical abilities have not gone unnoticed, and she has played at the White House, among other prestigious places.
“I just want to continue to put out good music and work with emerging artists, and I definitely one day want to write a book,” DJ Rekha said. It may not be a book about music or DJing, but anything on her mind.
Her sets she creates are personal and intimate for every crowd she plays for as she reads crowd responses. “I never plan my sets. Every set I do is completely different,” she said.
“You can’t ever automate the selection and have it played.”
As part of the New York City music scene, she also teaches classes to further others’ knowledge on her genre of music. Her class is on the business of electronic and dance music.
In and out of the classroom, she takes what she does seriously.
“DJs who grew up spinning without the aid of computers, we take what we do seriously,” she said.
DJ Rekha is scheduled to play at Black Cat on Saturday, April 20th.