EDM forerunner Sartek: I never knew electronic music could make me so inspired

Anurag Tagat

Dec,11 2016 09:08:40 IST

Sarthak Sardana aka Sartek might be that one EDM DJ among several names pasted together on a festival poster, and more often, apart from the hardcore EDM ravers, he’s probably not a recognisable name. But fame is not one of Sartek’s goals, as much as he often gets recognised when he’s out and about at, say, a local coffee shop in Connaught Place in Delhi. He offers a little vaguely during our conversation, “I try to keep an open type of profile.”

And it’s not as though he lays low — because you’d have to be enterprising if you got signed to Dutch electro house star Hardwell’s label Revealed and play over a hundred shows in the span of a year. Sartek is more or less open to talk about anything, whether it’s the contentious DJ Mag Top 100 DJs list (“the mistake people make is that they pay so much money for a rank they don’t deserve”) or admitting how simplistic his track-making process is (“it depends on how I’m feeling throughout the week”).

Sartek. Photo courtesy: Big Beat

Sartek. Photo courtesy: Big Beat

Fresh from his appearance at the Electric Daisy Carnival’s first edition in India (on home ground, at the Buddh International Circuit in Delhi NCR), Sartek played only his own music, tracks like ‘Dopamine’, ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Don’t Need Love’, which have topped electronic music aggregator Beatport’s electro house charts and earned radio play on broadcasts hosted by top DJs such as David Guetta and Armin Van Buuren. Playing our own music for your set in the EDM world is a risk, especially when anyone gathered just wants to hear the hits, but Sartek said he mashed up his own hits to “give a new feel to old tracks”.

If he was rising alongside Indian EDM peers such as Shaan and Lost Stories on festival stages and then playing opening sets for the likes of Hardwell in India, he was also becoming known in specific EDM global circles for releasing his 2013 debut single ‘Apocalypse’ via Tiesto’s Magik Muzik label, also a first for any Indian producer.

The backstory to that release is the four years it took him to go from inspired to aspiring to full-fledged producer. "It all started for me after I attended a legendary trance DJ gig by Ferry Corsten in 2007, having no idea what dance music is all about. The gig changed the perspective of music for me as I never knew electronic music could make me so inspired, seeing happy vibes all over. I joined an academy in Delhi in 2009 to pursue my passion and love for dance music while attending my Chartered Accountancy classes," Sartek told IANS.

And now, with his workflow and recognition and regular flow of gigs that take him to Europe as well as Hyderabad and to private sets in Agra, Sartek has his own monthly radio show called Back to the Future that features upcoming Indian producers. He says, “Before, I used to struggle with putting my music out, then I realised there are tons of producers who make good music in this country, but don’t have the knowledge or credentials to promote their music.”

But among his contemporaries, we ask if the DJ community isn’t as vain and filled with airheads as we think it is, and he says there’s usually never any rivalry or dirty looks thrown backstage at a festival. “Rather than judge or trying to guess what one or another is going to play, we just talk to each other. ‘Hey bro, I’m going to play this track’. Then we’ll make last-minute changes. That’s something quite fun, because you have to change up your set for the next DJ. You decide and debate, but it’s all in fun. Nothing negative in this.”

And as much as desi bass producer Nucleya has risen to new levels of fame and already been bestowed legend status, Sartek says there’s plenty of audiences for each distinct branch of electronic music to go around in India. “Our following is different from Nucleya’s. Some people are doing techno, they have a different type of sound. But what I’ve noticed in India is that it all boils down to what kind of support we’re getting from Western countries. Which is very weird, we have five times the population they have. If Sartek is supported by (The number 1 DJ on DJ Mag’s top 100 for 2016) Martin Garrix, Sartek is big. If Sartek is supported by Indian DJs, it doesn’t mean much to people.”

He chalks down another five to eight years before India’s EDM scene builds its own fleet of established DJs and producers. “And then Sartek can be the Martin Garrix from India,” he says.

Updated Date: Dec 22, 2016 20:25 PM