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Niraj Chag - A quick update

This was a short and sweet email questionnaire that Niraj Chag answered for the AV readers to enjoy.

AV: Tell me about your history with Outcaste?
NC: I signed to Outcaste records when I first moved to London (from Southampton), around 1997. I had been experimenting with fusing sounds for quite a few years and was delighted to learn that there was a whole 'Asian fusion' scene in London. I worked with Outcaste records till 2001 and then we parted company. It was a mutual decision as I wanted to move more into composition work for TV, theatre and dance and Outcaste records were also changing their musical direction.

AV: Tell me a bit about 'Baiju Bawra'? How did you get involved in that project?
NC: Very shortly after leaving Outcaste, I participated in a musical theatre workshop at theatre royal Stratford east. It was here that I started learning about musical theatre. I collaborated with so many brilliant artists as part of the workshop. When I finished the workshop I left a copy of some of my Outcaste work to a few people there. A few months later I was approached by the theatre - they really liked my work and wanted to work on a show with me. They asked me if I had any ideas and I suggested updating an old (quite leftfield for the time) Indian film called 'baiju bawra' for the stage. They loved the idea and 'baiju bawra' the musical was born.

AV: About your collaborations with Dum Dum Project, is there more work coming from that channel? How did you connect up with them being that they are from America?
NC: My first contact with Dum Dum Project (DDP) was about 6 years ago when Sean 'Cavo' Dinsmore approached me to do a 2 step garage remix of one of his singles (at the time I was remixing a lot of records under a lot of different pseudonyms). I really got on with Sean - we seemed to have a very similar vision and later Sean asked me whether I wanted to be a part of DDP. Having joined the project we started work on the next album which was a change in direction on earlier DDP stuff. We went more urban with it and had a few hits (Punjabi five-0 and supafly bindi had huge airplay and charted in parts of Asia). I love working on DDP stuff, its so much fun and we record it all over the world. We are planning to start work on the next record in the summer and are recording it in China and India.

AV: How much of an influence have your previous Label mates (Shri, Nitin etc.) had on your current work? Who would you consider your influences in general?
NC: Both Shri and Nitin are amazing artists. I have a lot of respect for what them. These guys are really creating cutting edge, beautiful music. In fact Outcaste had this ability to catch artists really early on - a fantastic A&R team. These days I listen to a lot of film scores - I really like Hans Zimmer, Craig Armstrong, AR Rahman, and John Williams.

AV: Where did the concept of Along a Dusty Road come up?
NC: The concept for ATDR came from conversations I had with my grand mother before she passed away 8 years ago. She would tell me stories of her journey from India to east Africa to the auk. Stories of courage, hope, patience, fear. I was so inspired by these stories that I wanted to document them and their sentiments in a musical form and ATDR is exactly that.

AV: What's next in the pipeline for you?
NC: I have just finished working on 'rafta rafta' a comedy for the royal national theatre as well as 'waqt' a kathak show with Gauri Sharma Tripathi. Starting work on a new show for the summer which I am developing in Paris.

AV: Thanks Niraj for answering a few questions for the AV readers.

More info about Niraj is available at: NirajChag.com

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