Breaking Through Musical Stereotypes: Nucleya In Conversation
The fusion of musical genres in India has been on a slow boil for a very long time now. Reggae and Electro swing, Indian classical and Dubstep – it’s all a combination of the unexpected. As time goes on, with this medley of genres, comes the transfusion of cultures. And Nucleya’s recently-launched EP ‘Koocha Monster’ is a true testament to a successful transition with a unique, trademark sound.
Nucleya’s run in the industry has been long and is still going strong. Just post the NH7 Weekender in Bangalore, I decided to download ‘Koocha Monster’. My expectations were already high, but to say that the EP went far beyond them would be a gross understatement. The first sound that hits you is the absolute and complete infusion of South Indian street music (the Tamilian in me couldn’t avoid the occasional head bobble). The second is Nucleya’s trademark sound that we’ve all come to love – heavy bass. From the unique remix of Damian Marley’s ‘Welcome to Jamrock’, to the collaborations with Southern artist Chinna Ponnu on the track ‘Bell Gadi’, and Delhi Sultanate on the subtly-reggae infused number ‘New Delhi Nuttah’, this EP is a complete, delightful joyride. Featured on the EP is also the catchy tune ‘Akkad Bakkad’, for which a video has just been released.
All in all, Nucleya’s ‘Koocha Monster’ takes the familiar and gives it a ferocious twist that is undeniably addictive, to say the least.
On December 7th, Bangalore saw Nucleya perform a DJ set at The Humming Tree that had the crowd not only in front of the stage, but also on it. During this one and a half hour set, the artist blazed through his entire EP, while giving the crowd unexpected remixes and layers to existing tracks.
I got the chance to chat with Nucleya post gig and get the lowdown on his entire outfit, the EP, influences, and what we can expect next.
Noopur: My first question – how did Nucleya evolve?
Nucleya: A lot of people think that I’ve come up in the last couple of years. But the truth is that I’ve been making music for over 10 years now. I was part of a band earlier, Bandish Projekt, and I did that for almost 8-9 years. It was after that that I moved out of it and started Nucleya. And honestly, my music wasn’t working. Broadly because it was a lot ahead of its time. But then I got signed by OML (Only Much Louder), the management company, and they really helped me get my sound out. And, uh, it’s working fine as of now, it seems like. *chuckles*
Noopur: What is the major difference between Bandish Projekt and Nucleya right now?
Nucleya: Right now, I don’t know. Back in the day, what we were doing with Bandish Projekt was very Indian Classical… sort of drum n’ bass kind of music. And the fact is that if you’re part of a band, you have a special sound which people love you for. And as a band, you have to cater to that audience, you know? Because they love you for that particular sound. And honestly, I was a little tired of it. I wanted to experiment, and being part of a band, it was difficult to do that.
So we decided to go our own routes and that’s when I started Nucleya. And my music is… I think it’s a fine balance between Indian music – which is not clichéd. Like if you see from the West’s perspective, Indian music is mostly about Indian classical music – mostly sitar, flutes and all that, you know? And I wanted to sort of showcase that it’s more than that. So that’s why there’s a lot of street music. I mean, that’s amongst us everywhere. On our streets, you see so many people dancing, and playing drums. It’s such an amazing thing.
So my music is a nice balance between Indian folk, street music and electronic music. And Bandish Projekt back then was Indian classical, sort of drum n’ bass and underground. That sort of stuff.
Noopur: So I’ve downloaded your EP and I’ve been listening to it constantly. What I noticed is that it’s not just genre but you’ve transcended cultures, so to speak, with a strong South Indian influence. Why?
Nucleya: *laughs* To be honest with you, as you must have noticed in my DJ set, there is no one genre that I stick to. And I absolutely hate genres. It should be about the music, at the end of the day. When I was growing up, my father used to play Mehdi Hassan and Ghulam Ali and all, and I end up using those sounds and samples in my music today. I don’t want to stick to one particular style of music and keep doing that for a certain amount of time. I prefer to sort of experiment and explore, see what’s going on in the world. What’s going on in India. What are the sounds that nobody’s heard before. And sort of like, get everything together and make a newer sound out of it. Which is genre free.
Noopur: It’s been quite some time that you’ve branched out as a solo artist now. What has been your biggest challenge in the Indie scene?
Nucleya: Biggest challenge? Uh… back in the day, it was a challenge to sort of convince people to listen to this style of music. But I don’t think it’s a challenge now, to be honest with you. Like, I play my own music and people really like it. And that’s what an artist will always want. Honestly, I don’t think there’s any challenge as such. I’m just doing my shit and people are enjoying it so I’m very happy. *laughs*
Noopur: Lastly, what can we expect from Nucleya in the future?
Nucleya: A new EP is actually being worked on right now. And I have a lot of very beautiful collaborations. Unfortunately, I can’t name anybody because the tracks are still a work in progress. But International collaborations and National collaborations are all sort of… on its way.
Noopur: Any city or country you really want to play in?
Nucleya: I really want to play in India first. I want to do India for another year now. The thing is I’ve been playing in places like Bangalore and Pune for a while. I want to play in smaller places. Like I did a gig in Hubli and it took me 7 hours in a flight to reach there, but what an audience, man. Unbelievable audience.
Another thing that I want to do is that I want to play in Bombay but I want to play in the Ganesh festival. These are the kind of places I want to play in, where it’s all about the energy and the music; it’s not about the genre; it’s not about anything else. It’s about the energy, it’s about people getting together; it’s about sharing love and being together… and celebrating.
You can download the ‘Koocha Monster’ EP from Nucleya’s bandcamp page: nucleya.bandcamp.com