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The term “international collaboration” is used loosely in our music industry. While it has become increasingly common for Indian acts to release tracks featuring foreign stars, frequently the participating musicians don’t actually meet or even interact with each other. The “duet” is set up by the label or management team they share in common.

In the case of the recently released ‘Jadi Buti’ by Nucleya and Major Lazer, not only has the Indian bass music pioneer opened for the American electronic music trio on their tours here, he has known frontman Diplo for almost a decade and they have been exchanging ideas for a potential collaboration for years.

To Indian ears, with its playful nursery rhyme-like lyrics and folksy female vocals, ‘Jadi Buti’ is more parts Nucleya than Major Lazer. What the latter brings to the tune is a pop sensibility that transforms it into the kind of bass banger that has the potential to cross over to mainstream audiences. Nucleya, who has also recorded songs with American EDM band Krewella and local idols such as Benny Dayal, Divine and Papon, told us this is exactly why he works with anybody.

“The whole intention is to hijack their creativity,” says the long-time Goa resident whose real name is Udyan Sagar. “To learn from it and then use segments in my own way in my music. From my coll­aboration with Major Lazer I learned that there is no need to overcomplicate anything.”

‘Jadi Buti’ is Nucleya’s first proper single as a lead artist in almost two years, but he is in no rush to put out new material. After years of performing nearly 200 shows annually, he has been using the lockdown to spend quality time with his wife and son. “I think I burnt myself [out] in the past five-six years. It worked in my favour, [so] I’m not complaining. [But] I could have scattered the releases in a systematic way,” says the producer who broke through with 2013’s Koocha Monster, turned into one of the country’s biggest independent acts with 2015 follow-up Bass Rani and built on his nationwide popularity with 2016’s Raja Baja and 2018’s Tota Myna.

These EPs were interspersed with the occasional collaboration and contributions to Bollywood soundtracks. Next up are sets with Ritviz, with whom he shares the same management company Under The Radar, and Canada-based bass music composer Soltan, with whom he studied music production. Neither record has a release date yet.

The upside of the lockdown, according to Nucleya, is that it has forced him and his counterparts in the Indian dance music community to slow down. “There’s no race so it is way easier,” he says. “I’m very disciplined in terms of making music but discipline isn’t everything. When you’re emotionally not in the right place, your creativity goes for a toss. Thankfully, I think I’ve gotten it back.”

ACES OF BASS

Nucleya’s connections in the electronic music genre run deep SU REAL

The New Delhi-based producer, born Suhrid Manchanda, has been pushing bass music for over a decade. In 2018, he, along with ‘Jadi Buti’ singer Rashmeet Kaur, won the Amazon Prime Video reality competition The Remix, on which Nucleya was a judge

RITVIZ

Creator of his own genre of ‘Hindustani’ dance music, Ritviz, somewhat of a protege of Nucleya, is one of India’s best-known independent acts with four tracks that have between 10 million and 25 million plays on Spotify, including AIB-endorsed ‘Udd Gaye’

GURBAX

The influence of Nucleya is evident in the compositions of Bengaluru’s Gurbax aka Kunaal Gurbaxani who blends bass and Indian folk and regional music sounds. He is one of several young Indian producers to have performed opening sets for Nucleya or played guest mixes for his BBC Asian Network radio show

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