We are re positioning our radar this month on Atish and his upcoming debut EP on his imprint label Manjumasi, how he began his journey and whats more in store for him and his newborn label. Read on for more info as we unveil here the quirky story behind this unusual name “MANJUMASI”
Q1- Tell us all about your journey, the first gig, the first time you fell in love with music, the time when you decided you wanted to be a DJ.. everything..?
I’m incredibly lucky to be able to do what I do. Every weekend, I get up on stage, dance around, play music I love for enthusiastic crowds, and see different parts of the world. The fact that people pay me enough money to do this as a full-time career is something that still blows my mind. It’s not always easy, though. There are times when I’m challenged, frustrated, and pushed to my mental and physical limits, but I see these as any hurdles one must jump in order to reach their potential.
The story of me as a DJ starts in 2009. I was at an after-hours loft party in my hometown San Francisco, and I saw that the loft owner had an incredible vinyl collection. I had been collecting vinyl as a non-DJ for a few years already, so I commented on how amazing his records were. Fast forward a few weeks and the collection owner told me he was moving to New York and needed cash fast. The next thing I know, I had just bought the whole collection – 4000 records in 1 shot! As part of the package, he decided to throw in a couple technics 1200’s turntables, so I figured I might as well learn how to mix these records together like a real DJ.
I was quite social back in those days, so I was frequently hosting my own small after-hours. I used those opportunities to DJ my new records in front of my guests, which led to local bookings since people had a chance to hear me play. Around the same time, I started releasing monthly mixes on Soundcloud, which caught promoters’ ears in other cities which got me gigs outside of SF. One of these out of town bookings at WMC in Miami eventually caught Lee Burridge’s ear, which led to me playing Robot Heart at Burning Man. The Robot Heart recordings, especially the 2012 one, really catalysed the bookings at the international level since Robot Heart has the whole world listening in.
Things steadily grew for the next few years. I had a full-time day job as a software at Facebook during the week, and I was touring most weekends. It was exhausting, and eventually wasn’t possible for me to do both the day and night job at the same time. I was making just enough money on my DJ bookings to cover my living expenses, so I jumped on this opportunity to throw away the desk job and take on a full-on artist life. I’ve now been a full-time DJ for the last 2 years, and I look back on leaving my day job as the best thing I ever did (tied with majoring in Computer Science).
Q2- You are someone who has had burning man, city fox and so much more in his kitty, how did that happen for you??
It’s a hard question to answer since different opportunities arise for different reasons. At a high level, artistically, it helps that my biggest DJs influences are DJs who have a lot of range. These were DJs who would play appropriately for a small club, a big festival, as openers, closers, and they could take you on a 8-hour marathon journey weaving between genres. I have tried to sonically position myself in a similar way, and I think that is attractive to different types of promoters.
One other important aspect that helped me get to this point is the fact that I make it easy for people to know what I sound like. While I haven’t released any productions, I have been regularly releasing mixes on my soundcloud account for the last 7 years, with 65 mixes now in my catalog. Promoters have a good feel for my range, but more importantly, my audience has a deep understanding of my sound. This has lead to a strong loyal following, which eventually bubbles up to promoters and bookers.
Q3-You have recently entered the Label business with Manjumasi, how and when did you feel the need to own a Label and why. Also i have been dying to ask you the motivation behind the name “Manjumasi” what brew that name?
A DJ set is semi-improvised curation over the span of a few hours. A DJ expresses his taste through club speakers on a given night. Running a label is also curation, but just at a higher level of abstraction, minus the improvisation, and plus a lot more email. Rather than expressing my taste by playing a different track every few minutes in a nightclub, Mark Slee (my label partner) and I wanted to explore another avenue of curation by releasing records every few months.
I’m also now shifting to a point in my life and career where I am starting to feel satisfied with where I am as a DJ. I don’t need to be more successful or make more money. I think that level of satisfaction has made room for me to explore new motivations such as helping other artists succeed. Releasing a friend’s record on Manjumasi and seeing it succeed is more satisfying than many of my DJ gigs, so that’s a big motivator behind the label for me as well.
As for the name, both my parents are Indian. In Hindi, the mother’s sister is referred to as “Masi.” My mother has a sister named Manju, so I address her as Manju Masi. A few years back, Mark Slee and I were traveling around India, and Manju Masi had organized our travel plans. Mark would say “Manju Masi” at random points throughout the trip simply because he liked the sound of it. I liked the sound of it too, so we decided to call our DJ b2b name Manjumasi when we got back stateside. A few years later, we had to decide on a label name, so Manjumasi seemed like an easy choice. Unique, quirky, and with a personal story behind it.
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Q4- Share with us your upcoming plans.
I’m now just back in full-on touring mode and will be hitting Latin America, SXM festival, WMC, Desert Hearts, and the Middle East over the next couple months. Beyond that I’m continuing to develop my talk show-themed club night called Late Night Tonite, and thinking about how to play more marathon sets here and there.
Q5- What is next in the pipeine on Manjumasi?
I’m super excited to release my debut solo EP on the label, March 23rd. I’ve been a pure DJ for my entire career up to this point, so I’m glad to finally share a new artistic side to the world. Beyond that we have a few releases from smaller artists coming over the next few months and some label showcases around the US and hopefully overseas as well.