Raj Chaudhuri – Head of Music at the Boiler Room
Raj Chaudhuri is the Head of Music at the Boiler Room. The job is a perfect fit for someone with his passion and global sense for electronic dance music.
Last year he visited South Africa for the Ballantine True Music event hosted by Boiler Room TV which featured Maya Jane Coles, Culoe De Song, Francois K, Black Motion and others.
We chatted about what his job entails, the one mistake record label owners make when trying to launch their imprint, his appreciation for South African dance music culture and other cool stuff.
Your work in overseeing the world wide music strategy at Boiler Room must make for an interesting occupation. What remains at the forefront of your mind when coming up with strategies for Boiler Room and why do you believe this is so?
Raj Chaudhuri: Fundamentally, Boiler Room is programmed by a global team of passionate music fans who are all pro-active in their respective cities and scenes around the world. Our programmers include label bosses, party promoters, DJs, radio hosts, and just straight-up passionate music fans.
The job of overseeing this is essentially listening to the programming team and allocating some structure and resources to try and make these ideas come to life. It is a very nuanced thing, some ideas work on a global sense. But, for more niche artists and musicians we need to make sure that we put out strategies that will best showcase the music. How we treat a Favela Baile Funk party in Rio is going to be very different from a classical concert at the Barbican in London, to a warehouse techno party in Berlin.
I would love to take more credit for the music programmed on Boiler Room, but essentially it comes from a very strong global team. My job is making sure that we are getting a good spread of interesting global underground music and contextualising it in the best way possible for us and our audience.
What about Maya Jane Coles, in your professional or personal opinion, do you think makes her a timeless artist? And what do you think she contributes to the True Music platform?
Raj Chaudhuri: Maya Jane Coles is a very unique artist. She has not really swayed into fashions and trends and has always just gone about making the music that she makes. This is the embodiment of a True Music artist. She is very hands on with her music, from the design and artwork, and obviously the music all being handled by herself.
She played Boiler Room in our early years when she was still on the come-up and more recently for our Ballantine’s Stay True Scotland event where her set was incredible. We are big fans and when we were discussing the True Music project she had ideas of how to combine this with her brand new album and interesting ways of creating the True Music EP, curating Boiler Room shows and hosting the first Ballantine’s True Music forum, we knew she would be a good fit.
In your eight years of running a record label, what do you think are some of the most common mistakes people make when trying to run a successful label?
Raj Chaudhuri: Quite simply chasing trends or trying to find the “next big thing” whilst losing sight of what is actually simply good music.
Here in South Africa we already know what we think of our own electronic dance music and our scene’s global reputation shows evidence of positive growth. What do you make of our local electronic dance music culture that qualifies us as a stop on Maya’s True Music tour?
Raj Chaudhuri: Boiler Room comes to South Africa a lot and for a good reason. Some of our best parties have been here and the atmosphere with the crowd and the dancers is something that we rarely see in other parts of the world. Maya Jane Coles had also never been here so we thought it would be a great idea to bring her to South Africa for her first time to show her what we already knew and have seen.
How did Maya go about deciding who to work with on the special remix EP and how was her decision influenced?
Raj Chaudhuri: Maya had listened to some of Culoe de Song’s music and was a fan of how he has his own distinctive and local take on house music. When they met, they actually found they had a lot in common to how they approach making music and I think bonded in many ways. It ended up being a very natural fit.
What do you believe are the prime benefits of streaming each of the True Music events for the rest of the world to tune in?
Raj Chaudhuri: Well, the beauty of Boiler Room is that although we may just be in one venue in one city, we are spreading that music and that energy to the world, via the internet. That is always a goal, to spread good music.
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