“Now really, what sort of silly question is that? For my part I wanted to make a statement then, not because I thought I could change the world, but rather because I had the means to be able to express my feelings about 911 through my music.”
Chatting to Skrufff 7 years ago about his compilation Stoned Asia Music Presents World Peace, London eclectic/ ambient guru DJ Pathaan said ‘honestly, do I think music can change and influence man? Yes, I think it can’, though asking him today whether his title made any difference elicits a weary response.
“The reason I released a CD with that title then was because prior to
911 I’d had a monthly residency in New York City for a few years, which was no small achievement, then after 911 I suddenly had massive problems getting a visa,” he recalls. “I won’t go into the specifics now but suffice to say I haven’t gone back to America since. But now Obama is in, I may”
“For me the title was a no brainer,” he adds, “But I did come up against some problems with the distributor, at the time who felt it was possibly politically in-correct. I know; how stupid of them.”
Seven years on, Pathaan remains one of the leading lights of the global alternative electronic music scene, broadcasting a weekly show on the UK’s BBC (Pathaan’s Musical Rickshaw’) and releasing two new compilations just now Nomads 7 and Globetronica 11. He’s also decidedly calmer these days about previously being called ‘Chill-out’s angriest man’ by Skrufff.
“Oh darling, I was never angry. Never,” he corrects, “It just bugged me (annoyed me) big time how much attention the super-clubs and DJs were getting and no-one else. There were no sour grapes involved on my behalf at all, I was just commenting on very obvious vicious circle which didn’t leave much room for anyone else.”
Not that he’s totally tranquillized his temper, as he’s quick to point out.
“When was the last time I lost my temper? Quite recently actually,” he confesses, “and it angers me still just to think about it. I was furious when Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown publically checked on Susan Boyle’s situation after she checked into the Priory. Excuse me! What is that all about?”
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Starting with your music, the press release for your new compilation Globetronica says ‘Pathaan aims to revamp his
sound’: why the need for the change?
Pathaan: “Come on, that’s just a turn of phrase. Me revamping my sound is like trying to re-invent the wheel. I suppose what the press release is basically trying to say is that as a tastemaker my sound is forever evolving. And musically speaking there are many layers and textures to my sound as both the Globetronica 11 and Nomads 7 releases show.”
Skrufff: You also refer to this term ‘outer-nationalist sound on the press release: why use that: what does it mean in layman’s (media) terms?
Pathaan: “Hmmm, surely the media, and you, will be able to relate to the term “outernational’ as much as the next person? It’s all very well having the term ‘world music’ for what I do, but that tag is now seriously dated and appeals to people of a certain age. Whereas ‘outernational’ is a play on words which to my mind is perfect for my eclectic sound from around the world, based on no musical boundaries or particular genres. I suppose it’s similar to the term ‘Balearic’ in some ways.”
Skrufff: How do you feel about the term chill-out these days?
Pathaan: “I truly believe that chill out has suffered because of the rather unimaginative releases a few corporate brands swamped the market with, during chill-out’s heyday earlier this decade. Personally though, I certainly won’t shy away from the term Chill-Out, why would I? Though musically speaking my taste and direction is constantly changing and always has done. I still love playing in Ibiza and other hotspots and playing sunset slots as I did last summer at Mambo most months of the season.”
Skrufff: How much of a chill-out scene- if any- is there in today’s club world?
Pathaan: “There is no chill-out scene in the club scene as such and as far as I can remember there never was. That’s a myth. For sure some promoters told it that way, but in reality they were blagging (bull- shitting).
Skrufff: As well as Globetronica and Liquid Sound, you manage legendary psy-trance label Dragonfly: how much has Goa figured in your story?
Pathaan: “Yeah, I was down with Goa trance (I liked it) and the square- shaped foot dance as well. In fact, I did it rather well! I must admit I did have a problem with travellers/hippies/party people dressing up parts of Goa for raves in the ‘80s and thinking they owned the land, but time heals everything and many of the places have been cleaned up.”
Skrufff: Have you performed in Goa and India much?
Pathaan: “Yes, I have played in India a few times and most recently last year with Big Chill. Another connection I have with trance is that I oversee the managing of Dragonfly and Liquid Sound for Youth/ Big Life Management. I suppose India does play a part in my musical heritage because my mum was from the Punjab, before partition and she emigrated to the North West Frontier of Pakistan where she met my dad and hence I got the name, Pathaan. India has a special place in my heart. I love the people, chaos, tranquillity, heritage, food the smell, the music.”
Skrufff: You’ve played to 15,000 people touring with Bowie in the 90s; how easy has it been to keep your ego in check?
Pathaan: “Well yes, I am a Leo but my English rose (girlfriend) with whom I’ve together been with over a decade and my ‘hippiness’ has kept me in check – we are after all petals from the same flower.”
Skrufff: Have you kept in touch with Bowie?
Pathaan: “I’d love to be in contact, but I haven’t heard from him since after the Christmas of 1998, a year after I toured with him. I hope he and his family are well.”
Skrufff: I saw a picture of you arm in arm with Danny Rampling recently: how much is your plan/ goal to become a mega successful superstar DJ?
Pathaan: “Not another silly question! I’m happy with where I am and I’ve worked very hard over the years to reach this point. I’ve travelled the world and brought joy to many whether it be on the beach, lounge and dance floor through my musical excursions. I produce and manage two labels and also I have a radio show on the BBC called ‘Pathaan’s Musical Rickshaw’, so I feel complete as music is my life.
Without it I would be at a loss. The year before last, my father passed away and quite frankly music kept me going. As regards Danny Rampling, he had a massive influence on my musical journey when I was a wild child party type. I was one of very few Asians at clubs like Pure Sexy and Glam so hanging out with him since, has been nice.”
Skrufff: Rampling famously retired before starting again: what’s the closest you’ve come to getting a regular day job? Have you ever considered retirement?
Pathaan: “In a nutshell, MUSIC is my day job, my love and my passion.
Purrrrlease, can the silly questions stop!”
Skrufff: Who do consider are your peers these days? And why?
Pathaan: “Hmmm interesting. I suppose everyone and anyone who introduces me to music I’m not aware of already and I whole-heartedly fall for it. So someone like Charlie Gillett or Gilles Peterson, a label like Essay Recordings, Bloggers, Twitterers etc. etc. I could go on.”
Skrufff: Laurent Garnier was slating UK audiences this week saying ‘England is becoming very superficial music-wise and it’s definitely not the land that accepts experiments more than other places’: how much do you agree?
Pathaan: “I think Laurent Garnier may have a point there but possibly his opinion applies for the gigs he gets booked for. I’m sure, in fact I’m certain that if he set up shop in London, the ‘discerning ears’ would soon flock in, There’s no doubt in my mind that a lot of bars and clubs have chosen to go for the lowest common denominator in terms of music policy to get the £££ in, and consequently over time London has suffered. For example, check out Shoreditch on the weekend for stag and hen parties, but whilst that’s going on I do believe there are pockets of some fine experimentalism goings on, but hanging head in shame, overall London cannot claim that crown anymore as the world’s most experimental city. Plus, it’s not that black and white, there are so many factors that have led to this demise. Don’t get me started.”
Skrufff: Please continue . . .
Pathaan: “One of the main factors has to be how expensive it is in London. Creative types need to be creative, not worrying about living and feeding themselves constantly. Of course, that’s a part and parcel of everyday life wherever you are but it’s got out of hand here, and what with the boom and bust attitude, the expense just became too f**king much for some. I think a lot of creative people are still holding on but those with no toes have moved to places like Berlin because there is a vibrant creative scene there and you get more for less. No doubt London will spin itself back round in time but not for a while. A wise man or woman once said, everything comes around in cycles. Lets hope it’s sooner rather than later. I’m not sure how long I can hold out.”
Pathaan’s new compilations NOMADS 7 and GLOBETRONICA II are both out now. His weekly BBC radio show PATHAAN’S MUSICAL RICKSHAW is on air between 2am & 4am every Sunday.
Download Globetronica II on Trackitdown.net: http://www.trackitdown.net/genre/trance/track/1110217.html
Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)