Behind the Brewpub ScenesMeet the man who spins the swing and slays the beat—DJ Chris

Running a brewpub isn’t easy- it’s a lot of work, a lot of sweat and the occasional tears.

There are a lot of good, earnest people working behind the scenes, who put in a great deal of effort, round-the-clock, to ensure that everything you love about Toit stay that way.
And these people are none other than our never-tiring, ever-inspiring staff.
Our very own Toit Army- a battalion dedicated to the cause of good beer!

Meet the guy who swings the swing and slays the beat, our in-house music man, DJ Chris. He’s been spinning the scene for over a decade now, and loves how he has something new to learn with every evolving music trend.

Have you always been a DJ?

For pretty much sometime now. Almost around 11 years.
I got into it mainly when I used to call friends over to my home, for birthday parties and stuff. Ultimately, I would end up being the DJ. It started like that. And my friends said that since I liked it so much, I might as well look into it. So, that’s how I started out.

When did you decide to move from the home parties to doing this professionally?

Basically, I started out playing at weddings. Retro, and dance stuff mainly. And then I started working at a rock pub, and that’s when the rock influence came in. I worked at two rock pubs, and from there, Toit.

Have you always liked rock? Or are you into specific genres?

I’m into all kinds of music. Nothing in particular. It’s music. All of it.

I’m into all kinds of music

So, how exactly did Toit end up happening? What were you doing before that?

Started off playing in those two rock pubs through a referral I got. I was there for about three years each, in both places. Toit also happened through a friend’s referral, in the same way.

What kind of interview do DJs have? Do you need to play songs at your interviews?

Some places have that, and they do that to get to know exactly what the DJ is all about. I had that once here before I joined. It wasn’t really an interview, it was more like finding out what music I play. They asked if I would like to do a set for one night, and I said “ok sure” and after that night was over, and that was it. I was in Toit.

You’ve been here right from when Toit started. Is there a formula you’ve developed over the years?

It depends on the place I’m playing at and the people who walk in on a daily basis. And also according to the music that is popular. It’s mainly based on the crowd, because the crowd shifts from time to time. So I look at the crowd, but also the place, because it needs to match the ambience also.

Out here, there’s Rock, there’s Blues, there’s New Age, Alternative, etc. I need to cater to everybody that is coming in. I judge the crowd that comes in and keep shifting on a half an hour to forty five minutes basis. So I try to mix and blend music accordingly.

Is that hard to do?

A little. Because I don’t cut and paste music. It’s not like if you come up to me and say you want this track next, and if I’m playing classic rock, I won’t cut the track to play an alternative track next. I’ll blend it out into a new age track, for which I need time. I don’t want to be like other places where you just stop something and play something else.

Which brings me to—on a scale of one to ten, how much do DJs hate requests?

One being highest or ten? If ten is highest, then ten. And If you’re drunk, then definitely ten.

But is it considered rude to request? Do DJs take offence when someone requests something not on their set?

Not really. It’s fine. I just dislike when people come and ask for something else when you’re playing something different, like of a different genre. If you can convince him/her to go with the flow, then nothing like it.

And how do you do that?

Just talk to them, based on the genre they like, try and deviate—divert them into something else, something popular and if they like what you play, you can continue with that.

A smile is always better, because then they become easier to approach.

A smile is always better, because then they become easier to approach. But if you keep up your guard, sometimes they become more aggressive with their demands.

So, what’s a day like in your life?

My day starts with my son at home. I also work part time as a mechanic, in my friend’s garage in Kamnahalli. That’s an on and off kind of thing. We work with few bikes and lots of cars. Once I finish with that, in the evenings I get back, rest for a while, get ready and then come here. Finish here, go back home and then maybe for an hour or so, sit with some music, review some stuff, and that’s how the days are for me.

I’m from Sunday to Thursday. One advantage that Toit has given me, is that because I can take the weekends off, like Friday and Saturday, I get to play at other places as well. I play at other bars, and maybe even some weddings.

Is it a hectic life? Since you’re doing two jobs as well.

If you look at it that way, then you’ll think it is hectic. But if you space it out and manage time properly, it won’t be.

Does this openness to music you have, of embracing all genres, help with your work?

It does. When I play at Toit, sometimes I start off with a Jazz set, move into a Blues set—it depends on the crowd. Depending on the day of the week, the music will be slightly different. I like to collect all kinds of music because that way, even when I play at weddings, it works out for me.

And the whole idea is that when you’re looking for new music, you will stumble upon that one odd track that will take you into a new genre altogether. So you follow that path and let the flow take you wherever. It’s the same when I play. It’s much better that way, although it’s not easy. The challenge is more when you try and remember the artist, look for the track and play something new.
It’s more exciting that way.

What’s an off-day like?

If you’re looking at 30 days in a month, I may be off on one or two of those days. If I’m off, I spend time with family. We usually take a road trip to KGF to visit my grandma.

What’s the best and worst thing about being a DJ? Or hardest and best.

Hardest—trying to get someone who has come with a different mindset to listen to what you’re going to play and actually make them groove to what you’re playing.

Best—it’s a nice job. It gives me peace and calm. It’s so peaceful when you listen to music.

…it’s a nice job. It gives me peace and calm.

Because you’ve been doing this for 11 years, across venues and events, have you ever witnessed anything crazy in all those years?

Nothing much really. People just go mad when they start dancing, at weddings especially. One wedding, when I was playing, people started dancing on the tables. And that was pretty crazy. Over here at Toit, it’s more relaxed because we get a nice crowd. They don’t do any crazy stuff, really.

Do a lot of people here come up to you and talk about your music?

Yeah, they do. Which is something I like. Helps me a lot in one way, because I’ll get to know exactly what kind of crowd is coming into Toit and I can play different genres accordingly. Because everyone is evolving into different kinds of music and things they like, so it helps me also in a way that when they come and interact with me, it’s a much easier way to share what I know, and also get to know what they like.
That’s also how you get more customers coming in, because they’ll come in for that particular kind of music that you play, which no other place in Bangalore plays right now.

In the 11 years you’ve been playing in Bangalore, what’s the major musical shift you’ve seen?

Lot of people have moved away from Classic Rock and gone to New Age music. But as generations evolve, you will go into something new. It’s not a bad thing. It’s always nice to have something new. But yes, those who have moved on from Classic Rock, they still like going back to the old times, so it’s a mixed blend between classic and new age. That’s what we try doing here, where we blend everything well.

Today music is a little more electronic oriented compared to the old days when people used to play live. They do it now as well, but it’s more digital oriented.

You need to accept things that are evolving. If you don’t accept it and want to be stuck with only classics, then it’s going to be very difficult. You need to be more open minded to play all kinds of music.

Today music is a little more electronic oriented compared to the old days…

And is being a DJ is lucrative job? It seems like a glamorous space to be in.

It’s as hard as any other job. For a DJ, you need to put in a lot of work before hand, and you need to know, before starting out, what kind of a DJ you want to become and where you want to go with it. Small basics of technical know-how, what sound is, how it works—if you know those basics, it will help you a lot in the longer run.

Is formal education important for this? Or do you think learning on the job gives you more of an edge?

You can learn on the job. Hands-on is always better, you’ll get to know exactly the ins and outs of it. As for me, there wasn’t anyone back then to teach me about it so I had to learn by myself, and from friends. I worked for a small sound company also, and that’s where I learnt about sound and how mixers work and stuff.

In a way, having schools helps people learn, because they might feel like they’re missing out on something but when you have the internet, you can do a lot of things.

Who are your favourite DJs right now?

Indian—DJ Vacchan. He’s always been my favourite.

Foreign—Paul van Dyk

Any track you particularly loving right now?

Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars. It has a nice new funk feeling to it.

How’s the experience here been so far?

It’s been very good. From the way I started out and how the crowd has evolved over the last four years. It’s very good. Compared to other places, sometimes you see a regular crowd that comes in, but here it varies. When people bring their friends and enjoy the music, and then when they make requests, that’s how I evolve and get to know what people like.