Northern Ireland pair take part in Delhi-to Derry in Sound collaboration as part of the British Council’s UK/India Season of Culture
TWO Derry-Londonderry DJs are in India this week to sample the country’s electronic music scene.
Up-and-coming acts, Aaron Thomas and Shay Whelan, have jetted off to play clubs in Delhi, Mumbai and Goa, with their first show kicking off tomorrow night (Friday, 10 March) in New Delhi.
Bringing a mix of electro, techno, ambient and psychedelia, the pair have been selected to take part in Delhi- Derry: Together In Sound, a partnership between Derry’s Celtronic Festival and New Delhi online radio station Boxout.fm, which aims to build new creative partnerships between artists in Northern Ireland and India.
The collaboration is part of British Council’s India/Together: A Season of Culture, a programme of activity to celebrate the relationship between the UK and India through music, theatre, cinema, literature, fashion and visual arts, with the duo following in the footsteps of fellow Derry DJs The Fully Automatic Model, Cartin and Queen & Disco who toured across India late last year.
Aaron (32), who is known for his live shows, mixes dub, industrial and EBM, using analogue synthesizers, drum machines and loop pedals. This is his first international tour and for him, it’s a chance to reignite his creativity and focus more on his music.
He said: “I initially got involved with Celtronic as a club goer, and it opened my eyes to underground house and techno music. I love synthesisers and old analogue music and started buying stuff in my teens, eventually building my own home studio. I started playing live sets in 2015 and as time went on getting bigger and better gigs, with some international shows lined up. Unfortunately, just as it was kicking off for me, Covid hit and that all kind of stopped.
“I feel a lot more creative now because of this tour and I want to ride this wave. Focusing on my music is now my goal and that’s one of the biggest positives to come out of this tour.
“With my live shows I try to replicate the best moments that I’ve had on the dance floor for other people. They’re quite bass heavy and distortive, and sometimes can get a bit trippy and psychedelic – and I don’t know if this is what the crowds in India will expect.
“Prior to last year I knew nothing about the electronic music there, but I’m starting to get an idea that’s it’s taken off and is really exciting. I’m looking forward to playing shows with Shay and can’t wait to make connections with the people out there – that is probably what I value the most.”
Meanwhile, Shay (22), who works as a studio engineer at Celtronic, is known for making hard and fast paced techno tracks, swaying from electro to hard house and techno. He is one of the most exciting emerging producers /DJs in the Northern Ireland music scene and has been touted as one to watch.
Ahead of the shows he said: “This is my first-time touring, and not only will it give me great insight into what touring is like, but it will be amazing to experience the culture of India. I’m particularly looking forward to Goa as I’ve heard so much about it and everyone tells me I will love it.
“My experience in India will definitely top anything I’ve ever experienced before. I’m not sure yet about my set, but I’ve got a lot of new material of my own and have been exploring different styles lately – so I’ll be trying out some tracks I wouldn’t normally get the chance to play in the UK or Ireland.”
This collaboration between Boxout.fm and Celtronic began in 2021 through Delhi- Derry: Electronic Connections, when acts from India and Derry-Londonderry were brought together for a two-day livestream with the support of the British Council. This was followed in the summer of this year when six acts from India performed in Derry-Londonderry as part of Celtronic 2022.
Speaking about the collaboration, Gareth Stewart, Founder of Celtronic, said: “All these acts have the potential to be global touring artists, with India a perfect showcase of the diverse sounds of the local electronic music scene here. Apart from the chance to visit some of India's finest cities and experience Indian culture, they will get a chance to play some of India's best clubs and festivals and bring their sounds to a whole new audience. We hope this will be the first of many cultural exchanges between Derry and New Delhi.”
“Since beginning this partnership with Boxout.fm, we have been learning about the scene in India and some of the amazing DJs, producers and live acts from there. The scene there seems to be growing at a rapid rate and there is sure to be some global electronic music stars emerging from India in the years ahead. When the six Indian artists including Nash, Stain, Zequenx and Lush Lata performed at Celtronic in the summer, they all went down a storm with Derry audiences.”
Also speaking about the collaboration, was Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland, he said: “This collaboration shows the strength of the electronic music scene in Northern Ireland and India, specifically the talent coming out of Derry-Londonderry and Delhi. The electronic music scene in Delhi is very much on the rise with Boxout.fm the first platform to showcase alternative music and its related cultures in India, while Celtronic has been a leading electronic festival in the UK and Ireland for the last 20 years.
“We are delighted to have been able to support this project from the beginning and hope this collaboration will shine a spotlight on local talent, helping these artists reach new international audiences. We wish both Aaron and Shay the very best of luck with the tour.”
The UK:India Season of Culture continues the British Council’s work, building connection, understanding and trust between people in the UK and overseas through arts, education and English language teaching. To find out more about their work in Northern Ireland visit nireland.britishcouncil.org or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.