Aneesh Gera isn’t a new name to Goa’s nightlife scene. His relentless determination to spin a ‘life-long passion on the DJ console from the age of 17-years, earned him international repute and collaborations with Grammy winners. He is the first Indian to cross 4.3 million streams on Spotify globally for underground music. He is the first Indian-origin artiste to hit the USA billboard dance chart and world tours for the Ministry of Sound London.
20-years on, Aneesh says of his passion project, “I never looked at it as a career. It had nothing to do with a career path or money. I didn’t even know it was bankable; when I started, it wasn’t,” he laughs recalling the early days.
The Early Years
Aneesh’s first nightclub experience at 13 with his mum at Ledos led to his first encounter with a DJ. His eyes glean with nostalgia as they roll back to the night he spotted a DJ, ‘in a small dark corner’ of the room. “He was giving this collective experience that I found empowering. Everyone was having such a good time, dancing. I saw that, and I was like, ‘that is what I want to do,’” he tells.
That exposure changed the course of his life. After he started at 17, he remained on the college circuit for a year playing popular music. “I was playing music in between the fashion shows and a couple of mixes,” he says.
His first club gig began with Club Extreme. Going over the club scene at that time, Aneesh shares, “There weren’t clubs. There were Titos, Extreme, and West End.”
Apart from the lack of opportunities, society frowned upon the profession. His peers mocked his choice, “It’s like, ‘if you failed at everything else in life, you became a DJ, with at least two forms of addiction. It was a difficult time.”
Tough times called for sacrifices and hard work. To practice pitch and tempo, he would open Club Extreme early. He befriended the guard to give him the keys, and after finishing college at 4, he would rush to the club. “My entire music collection was about 9 CDs. I would mix it all through and finish it in those hours. I would close the club, freshen up at home and return later to start my show.”
The self-taught DJ shares, “When I went to Bangalore, family friends who had decks at home showed me what each button does. That’s about it.” With the support of friends in the profession in Goa, he borrowed equipment to practice.
Aneesh pursued his audio engineering at SAE Australia for a year. He moved from playing popular music to producing his own post the course. “It wasn’t the straight approach, because if you want to compose music, you have to study music. I studied the engineering side.”
His music has earned him the reputation of India’s 1st Dance Music Producer to hit the USA Billboard Dance chart with over 200 records released internationally.
While his music has won fans globally, writing isn’t an easy process. “People don’t understand what music production is. It’s writing music. You are writing every instrument; in terms of rhythm, key, structure, chord, etc. When a producer finishes a dance record, you will have anything from 10 to 200 instruments,” he says.
His unique mixes are blends of various musical influences, from classic dance music to the latest underground. It’s difficult to categorize his music as his songs take you through a spectrum of music.
He credits his mum for his exposure to international music growing up. “From the time I was a kid, I grew up listening to 80s music from Steve to Floyd, to pop. Mum has a great taste in music,” he says.
How did he find an audience for his music? “When I started, I was playing to the audience, but when you become an artiste, people come for you. In the early 2000s, when I was gigging, people were listening to mainstream artistes. Here I was ending my gigs with Chemical brothers because the more you can educate your audience, the wider your spectrum is. While mainstream was synthesized pop, I was still catering to that, but I wanted to push classical trance, Paul Van Dyk, and other big names. I received both good and bad feedback. It was great because I helped filter the crowd.”
Master of Spin
Aneesh’s journey is of struggle and triumph. It’s come a full circle with an invitation to play at the Ministry of Sound, UK’s premier club thrice. “I was buzzing. It has been an emotional journey to be invited back for five years. What a great gig, incredible venue, and sound system.”
He’s traveled the world, performing with heavyweights like Swedish House Mafia, Major Lazer, Above and Beyond, Sean Paul, Roger Sanchez, and more. He’s a regular at international festivals, Vh1 Supersonic Festival, MTV, Sunburn, etc.
His work may take him across the world, but the Goa boy says there is no place like home.