Paroma Chatterjee better known as DJ PAROMA is today one of India’s leading female DJs. From a novice in a predominantly male dominated field, she has over the past eight or so years, proven that she can hold her own against the best of the guys out there. Today she is a celebrity DJ who is on the jury of several TV shows including Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and Lil Champs. She was the winner of the WOW Asia Awards 2018 in the best Female DJ category and the official DJ at IPL 2014.
She has done several official Bollywood remixes for Sony Music, T Series and Zee Music and performed gigs all over the country and across the world including the US, Australia, Asia and Middle East. Recently she was appointed Brand Ambassador for two renowned brands, V-Moda and UDG Gear (representing India on their worldwide website amongst the top djs of the world) which is a source of great pride for her.
DJ Paroma has come a long way from starting off as a cabin crew member with an airline, a few stints in other fields, before deciding to go with her passion for music and ending up as India’s top most female DJs. For her, “Music is a human expression in the medium of time using the structures of sounds or tones and silence".
Here she talks to RagatoRock about her career, her struggles, her belief in herself, on the road to eventual success.
How did you start your Musical journey?
Well, I am someone who sure dreams but I never have a concrete plan for the future. I take each day as it comes. The pressure then to make a right career choice after giving up on three different fields before, led me to choose something that I found close to my heart, which was music! DJing was not with an intention of keeping it as a hobby. I wanted to make a living out of something I really liked and that gave me the space to be creative. That is how I gave myself a deadline to explore in this industry and by God's grace, it all worked wonders.
What inspired you to become a DJ?
Since I loved music so much and I was at a juncture in life where I needed to make some decisions that would keep my heart happy and not just run after money, I said to myself ‘DJing’ must happen since I wanted to get into something associated with music.
How did you acquire your DJ skills?
I fancied the profession of a DJ ever since I started partying, which was very early in life. I figured that I had the energy and passion on my side. And I just did not want to be only the dolled-up chick behind the console. I wanted it to be a package showcasing my talent along and be a performer, not just a DJ.
To upgrade my skill, I took an intensive four- month course from an institute in Mumbai, under Bob Omulo, who was a stellar mentor. After a month since I finished the course, I was hired as an assistant DJ by a four-star property close to where I lived. Within 8 months into the job, I got my first freelancing gig on Christmas eve in Chennai in 2011 and from there, there was no looking back.
what kind of music do you play? Techno, EDM, Drums and Bas, House, etc.
As a DJ, I believe that a DJ who loves music must be keen on listening to different kinds of music and must try and experiment and educate the crowd with different genres. But since I perform only as a guest DJ and have very limited time to dish out what my crowd would love the most, coming from a country like India we all know what Bollywood can do to you and that’s exactly why I chose to specialise in the same. I love playing Bollywood; however, I also do play at gigs where I play Hip Hop, commercial and EDM.
What kind of DJ do you want to be?
Successful DJing is all about bumps on seats. The audience is an essential half of DJing. If you want any kind of success, you take this to heart and never lose sight of it.
What does it take to be a DJ?
There are no certifications or license requirements to become a DJ. All you need is zeal, hard work self-motivation and lots of love and respect towards your job.
What kind of difficulties you have faced and how you overcame from that?
In a career spanning about eight years, I have overcome many challenges. My early days were full of struggles, and this low phase continued until I actually got in the flow. DJing was a male-dominated field then. Many people tried to discourage me at the beginning of my career:
“People told me that this profession couldn’t take me anywhere and it is not socially acceptable for a woman to play music at nightclubs. I took it up because I didn’t find anything wrong with it.”
Soon I realized that I need to ignore the naysayers, as they were taking a toll on my work and this was affecting my peace of mind. Besides, there were security issues connected to being a female DJ at a nightclub—to be considered. But I remained committed to this endeavor. I think half the challenges you can disregard if you are focused on where exactly you want to be, and if you know your capabilities and worth.
You are a Glamorous DJ how come you have not added modeling & acting to you career graph?
It’s there on my checklist and hopefully in coming days. But I also believe every glamorous woman shouldn't focus only on careers like modeling and acting. I get highly inspired by women who are glamorous and still choose to rock their own respective professions apart from these.
Do you compose Music? do you have any original Music?
I am working on my first single now after studying the industry carefully. It is absolutely my dream to have my own single and that will happen very soon.
What is your latest project?
My remix of ‘Ami Pagol Hoye Jabo’ by Deep Jandu that I thoroughly enjoyed playing during the Puja at Kolkata. Its a very unique track that has a blend of Punjabi and Bengali lyrics together.
Do you think DJs are Music Composers?
A DJ traditionally plays existing tracks that are already established, at gigs. There are a lot of skills associated with DJing. Beat Matching, track selection, interaction with crowd etc. Nowadays, the gap between the two is getting narrower and if you want to be a good DJ, then you need to release tracks and EPs. This is to gain more exposure and build up your fan base.
Do you have any project in your pipeline?
I am working on a remix of my latest fav track ‘Ghungroo’. It’s more in a funk style that I am so excited to release. I haven’t heard anyone make one of that genres for this track. I love the track originally and I would love to see people dance on it.
What do you think of DJs replacing Bands? Are bands for the history books?
I think a DJ can offer nearly limitless variety, flexibility, from classics to current. They can play exactly the music you have imagined. The higher production quality of recorded music, with every instrument and vocal balanced in the studio, makes it sounds great at any volume level. This allows the DJ to adjust levels as necessary throughout the event. However, some bands are very talented and have great interaction with the crowd.
Anyone who really helped you when you were a nobody?
Yes, it was my family especially my mom along with my close friends who believed in my dreams and allowed me to fulfill it.
Piece of advice for DJ’s carving their way in this industry.
Every DJ need to be patient at all times and cannot lose patience in the beginning. Just hold on, as your hard work and determination will pay off soon someday.
Your favorite Top 5 DJ's and favorite 5 tracks?
Armin Van Buuren, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, Tiesto, KSHMR and Eric Prydz.
How do you sleep - Sam Smith, I don’t care - Ed Sheeran, Señorita - Camilla Cabello, Mann Bharrya - B Praak, Ghungroo - War
Those of you who have been around from the 1960's through the 1990's will remember the vibrant live music scene in almost every starred hotel in India. Those were the days when you walked into a nightclub like 'Rendezvous' at The Taj Mahal hotel and 'Supper Club' at the Oberoi Sheraton in Mumbai to see curtains going up on a band that was the prime focus of these outlets. Every seat in these restaurants allowed an unobstructed view of the band that performed every night on resident contracts. Today all this has disappeared thanks to some ridiculously high entertainment taxes on live music. Today, non off these hotels have complete bands playing save for a few that feature small duos or solo singers. The Lodhi in New Delhi, recently listed among the world's best hotels, decided to step in and rewind to the good old days. They got Goa's premier jazz quartet 'Jazz Junction' to move to Delhi on a resident contract and the decision has paid off in terms of footfalls generated by the band. Jazz Junction featuring singer Daniella Rodrigues, pianist Tony Dias,
bassist Colin D'Cruz and drummer Angelo Colasco began playing at The Lodhi in June 2018. Four months into the contract the band generated a sizeable following, with quite a few high profile guests choosing to celebrate their special occasion at the Elan bar where the band performs. Against all odds the rewind option proved to be a huge success and hopefully other properties around the country takes the cue to trigger a whole new revival of live music.