Aki Iqbal Mir | Professional DJ

In the fast-moving world of music, he is trying his best to add a beat to Kashmiri music, which traditionally was never so fast-paced.  Anguished due to the non-existence of support either by the State machinery or the big business of the State of J&K, he is moving ahead and making a mark for himself. The first professional DJ of Kashmir.

Excerpts from the interaction with Safina Nabi: TheCherryTree.in

Ours is a society in which music always had a special place. For you in particular, what does this mean?
For me, music is a gift from the Almighty. While it has been part of our culture for ages, for me in particular it is a personal gift of God. In normal circumstances, it requires lots of hard work and training to become a Disco Jockey (DJ). To me, this skill came naturally.

You are in your twenties and you have already been able to make a mark for yourself. At what age did your encounter with music happen?
I was only eight years old when I got somewhat attracted to music. Since then it has been a long journey and I believe that I still have a long way to go as this is that part of our culture that keeps on evolving.

By what age did you decide to become a DJ?
I was in 9th Standard, when for the first time; I had a feeling that I was born to be a DJ. No doubt there were numerous challenges, many roadblocks I had to overcome before I could establish myself as a DJ in the State of Jammu & Kashmir. During this unique journey, however, I always listened to the voice of my heart, which I always believed is God’s voice.

You are referred as the first professional DJ in the Valley. How do you feel about it?
I feel very much elevated and it gives me inner happiness that the people of Kashmir consider me “The Changing Face of Kashmir”. It is their love for me and respect for the music and I feel very proud that I am able to serve the people of Kashmir.

It is a well-known fact, that once you have made it big. Everyone feels happy. However, initially, everyone advises otherwise. What has been your experience in this case?
You are absolutely right. My family was not in favor of my being in the music industry at all. More so, I come from a very orthodox Muslim family. My family was more inclined towards my taking on medical subjects and becoming a doctor or as a backup, taking a job in the corporate world.

Now that you are in the music industry. What kind of challenges do you have to face?
It is a very sad situation back here in Kashmir. Everyone is talking about generating employment and speeches are made encouraging the youth to be self-employed and lending support to the Society or helping people who have potential. But the reality on the ground is quite different. There is not any support for artists like us, very few come forward to support us.

Take my case, for example, I must have approached everyone, be it a politician, a government official, or the corporate giants in the State of Jammu & Kashmir for support so I could avail one of three opportunities that were given to me for further enhancing my skills. It hurts when your own people just do the lip service only. I am thankful to DJs from across the world you are supporting a lot in my efforts.

What kind of opportunities you are referring to?
Three opportunities to do DJ Courses from New York-based Dubspots DJ School, London-based School of Remix, and Manchester DJ Academy of Australia.

What is the experience of being a DJ in Kashmir?
‘Elevated’ is the word I would like to use to express myself. More so, when my father saw me struggling for the latest equipment, he financed me.

What is your contribution in keeping Kashmiri music alive?
I am re-mixing our own Kashmiri music. The proof of that is my very first Kashmir remix “Yaar Chum”. The results have been very encouraging. I am doing my bit to keep our art & culture alive through music.

Had you ever thought that you will make such a name for yourself?
Honestly speaking, I am just working hard and with sincerity, rest is all God’s will. But surely I want to thank the media for all the reviews and articles they wrote about my efforts.

Do you write your own lyrics?
I write, but only for a protest kind of lyrics for crime against women.

What is your message for the new generation?
Don’t take a shortcut in whatever you do. And to become a DJ, listen to all kinds of music, practice a lot and be a professional.

What is your goal in life?
Well, my goal will be known to everyone in the near future. I am of the opinion that action speaks louder than words.