Music makes the world go round: Manish Sahijwani

Hyderabad has been in the news off late for its cool party scene. Whatever type of celebration, parties are incomplete without music. Be it a birthday party, or a wedding gathering – to ensure a night of dancing, we need people who spin out some great tracks to get it started. Nowadays even our weekend plans are made depending on our mood – which then decides the place, ambience and genre of the music we want to listen to. Be it House when you want to relax, or hip-hop or Bollywood when you want to shake a leg – we have ample of options to pick from.

It is safe to say that the party scene in the city has been growing and getting better, and the credit goes to the people who make it happen. This month, in order to celebrate the men who make us party, we caught up with some of the best DJs in the city, who excel in their respective genres.

Text: Anahita Ahuja

Swinging Through

Hardcore dancers to happy booty shakers, everybody sways to Manish Sahijwani, aka DJ Sunny Sunshine’s mixes. He has a way like no other when it comes to Electronic Dance Music, better known as EDM. His nuanced understanding of music and thoughtful approach to arrangements make his performances seem like spontaneous breakthroughs of ingenuity, an experience that stays with the crowds long after the lights come on (lights go dim, in this case). In a conversation with him, we got to know him better…

How did you get interested in music?

Music is something that was always around me, as far as I remember. I would listen to Boney M and ABBA at home, way back in 79-80s, followed by likes of Jacksons, Madonna, Modern talking in Bombay in the 80s. After coming to Hyderabad in 1989, to peruse my studies with electronics background, music became a teenage passion. It ended up becoming an profession in 1996, where I started with small social gatherings and college parties, till I took up a residency as a in-house DJ at Escape for Green park Hotels in April 1998.

Tell us about your story…

Music at Escape was exactly where it all came together, the people, the hospitality, newer experiences with music and party, along with an ever-growing party circuit. One thing led to the other, and I have enjoyed working with some exclusive venues including Over the Moon and Hylife as a resident DJ marking 20 years of almost non-stop residency as a DJ this year April 2018.

What was your first gig? How did it go?

That probably was way back to the Audiocassette days in 1995. As for gatherings it was New Year’s Eve 1996 that it all clicked.

What are currently your main challenges as a DJ?

Bring right music to right people; to keep the momentum going has been the biggest challenge always.

What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music that makes it interesting for you?

As for production, I have tried bootlegging along with some lounge and house tracks. I realized that producing music needs its space and time. I have been a resident DJ working given 3-6 hours of playtime with new audiences every new day, being inside the shell has not been in my process as yet, but maximum respect to the ones who sit behind and make those scores and melodies.

One secret to being a good DJ?

It is very simple – one just needs to love what they do.

How did you end up specialising in EDM?

It is the trending generations form retro time to old school hip-hop cultures that kept us flowing with the best music as DJs. Being known to some DJs abroad was a boon to exchange music and then came the internet.

Most common mistakes newcomers make?

They misunderstand this field. It is not as simple as it looks.

Which track do you best relate to with your life?

There are quite a few, but if I had to name one, it would be Time by Pink Floyd.

The weirdest request you have had?

“Hey DJ, could you please play Carefree Whisper!” they meant Careless Whisper. This was way back in 1998-99.

Most memorable night as a DJ

It would have to be on 10th September 2016, when I was supporting DJ #YVES V (Tomorrowland Resident DJ) at Hylife. I loved that night. I played the opening (1 hour) and closing set (3 hours), while he danced all night long.

One track that does not get too old, no matter how many times you have heard it?

Imagine by John Lennon

Which festivals do you enjoy playing at?

Festivals are super fun to be a part of. I have been very fortunate to be the opening DJ for a Revolution called DJs United in Goa and Ultra Musik.

Your favourite non dance song?

Our National Anthem