An Interview With DJ Paroma, The No. 2 DJ Of India

Paroma Chatterjee better known as DJ Paroma is one of the famous DJ’s who has given women a motive to try their passion in the field of music. She is a complete clubbing soul, a night life lover, a bling freak crazy from Mumbai, India. She started off her career as a cabin crew at a tender age of 18 for a very reputed airline. That’s when she flew international for a while and visited a lot of clubs around the world and came across so many different kinds of music. She, then, decided she would be taking up DJing in her near future and was sure she would excel in it! The sense of beats and rhythm came straight from within, naturally!

(Source: paroma.me)

Excerpts from the interview:

1. Your journey has been an intriguing one. What encouraged you to become a successful DJ from being an air hostess.

She says “I basically had no plans of being whatever I am today. Even in terms of profession or anything, I wasn’t kicked by anything in the very beginning. Even the flying thing just happened because I was on my way to do a course in hospitality and travel management, so I had no idea what would it lead me to. So once I was in flying, I was again going with the flow because I was not financially secure and it was just the basic job that was paying me well. That was the only reason why I stuck on to flying for so long. Honestly, I never enjoyed flying that much. But later on there was no vision, no future in flying for me at least and I wasn’t seeing my growth there in anyway. I wanted to be someone who could do things on her own terms, basically not under someone. I didn’t want to be answerable to anyone for what I did, whether it was good or it was bad. Having said that, it clearly means coming down to one term called freelancing and when you freelance in whatever it is, you are responsible for your own deeds. So I did try my hands at client servicing, I did try my hand in retail, just to be sure that these are not the places I want to be in.

But the reason why I gave a try to these few was that I didn’t want to take an instant jump after flying to make it clearly look like I can’t work under someone and that I cannot take freelancing. After these three industries, I came to a concluding note that yes I want to be on my own. For that also I had to brain drain myself for like 3 months to come to a conclusion that I don’t want to work under anyone. Because when I was in these industries I realized that it was the money and that I didn’t actually enjoyed being there. It has to be my passion whatever I really like, and music has always been there with me right since my childhood. I am a very ordinary person and I have been listening to a lot of music of different genres. So music was close to my heart and it was my passion and I loved listening to music all the time. DJing was the only profession I could closely relate myself to. The industry, the production and at that point of time my age and my energy was by my side, so DJing happened.”

Did flying and travelling helped you at that time?

Of course! Flying has helped me a lot when I am a DJ right now. I used to party then and fly internationally. I used to go to various clubs and listen to various DJ’s playing and different genres of music and I used to enjoy. I was never judgemental or critical about any genre or in any way how the DJ played, because it may be a disappointing night maybe for the crowd around me, but I still enjoyed it because I just thought the pace of the DJ probably did not match the pace of the crowd for that particular night, and there is nothing wrong about it. And that’s how I look at music. Now when I have to play and there are some good nights and bad nights, I feel as long as you connect with the crowd, its good. If you don’t connect really well, it could be a bad night. It could be a disappointing night, bad is a very strong word. Disappointing for a few but an amazing night for the others.

Yes, travelling helped me a lot. Speaking on the mike helped me a lot because I used to make announcements on my flight, English and Hindi both, which means that if I am on the flight nobody else can make the announcement, only I can. So the confidence and the clarity and how I speak and everything helped a lot with the mike. And now as a DJ, there are a lot of compliments to that because most of the time when a DJ speaks you can really understand what it speaks but when I speak I make sure that I am very audible, otherwise whats the point of even making an announcement. Secondly, facing a lot of people. Even on the flight, you face a lot of people of different personalities, coming from different backgrounds and now again as a DJ standing up there and facing like about sometimes 800-1000, sometimes 10000 people, it’s not really funny. It looks like it is a very easy job but trust me anyone who doesn’t feel confident can really lose it and just might get so scared. It is a stage fright basically. If you don’t feel confident then you just go. You will be sweating. So, these few things have helped me a lot”.

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2. At a very tender age, you became an air hostess but got to music after a while. What according to you are the problems and struggles of an artist?

I was blessed that I didn’t face a lot of challenges. The biggest challenge for me was within myself. The biggest struggle was being myself, it wasn’t from anyone else. I am very ambitious, I am very challenging. I love seeing a drive in someone, which leads them to reach places in terms of a growth in the career or as an individual, in that aspect. So I get driven seeing people have that drive in themselves.

The challenge for me basically was technically understanding what DJing is all about. Now, where do I go and make a stand for myself was the biggest challenge. Because I don’t want to be that ordinary person who comes in the industry and is gone out of the industry, and people don’t even know about them. I wanted to make a mark for myself in whatever no. of years I was present. I had an uphill but I will have a downhill sometime or the other because I step over someone else and someone else will step over me, sometime or the other. And that’s very clear in my mind. It is an industry full of competition and there will be people coming in and going out all the time. That’s what I have registered within myself. For example, if I am in the industry for like 10 years, I will make it a point to have people remember me as DJ Paroma in the mind, even when I am not a DJ anymore.

So that’s the kind of impact I am looking at in people’s heart for myself. I want them to remember that night when DJ Paroma was playing. I want them to remember me from the remixes that I have given them. I want them to remember me from the television presence that I have made in a few and have gathered some emotional and happy moments in people’s heart“.

3. You are the brand ambassador of two very well known international brands, V-Moda and UDG Gear.

Now three. It’s called New Darling, athletes sportswear and a very big brand in the US and they have recently launched in India and I am very happy to endorse them. I am not the solo endorser though, there are few others, the popular ones from various fraternities basically. But I am very happy when they approached me to market them. So when I did the shoots for them I told them that they basically wanted one or two clicks at that time and I took it to another level. That I am not going to be just modelling for them. So let me go to the gym and get a proper photo shoot done. And they got some amazing pictures.

UDG Gear, it provides all possible hardware for the gears and it’s also an international brand. I am proudly the only Indian DJ to be on the international website and that’s a very big thing. I stand up with famous people and these artists are on the list where I am. I was really happy when that happened.

V-Moda, they are associated with a lot many things related to sound like headphone, headgear etc.”

What is the road-map to become the brand ambassador of these three international brands?

It is a very funny thing. Could be taken as a negative thing or not, I don’t know. I don’t usually go to anyone for anything actually. I just think that if I deserve it, people will come to me, for anything. Even for my gig or anything, if I have worked hard enough or if I have made a name for myself in a certain way, and I deserve to be a part of the brand, a part of the event, they will call me. If they want some quality, a good artist/performer, then they will come to me. So with God’s grace and blessings and all my fan followers that I have, I never really had to approach anyone for anything”.

4. What are your views about the scope of the Live entertainment industry in India and at a global level?

Nightlife is something that is going to be ever growing. There is a transition that everybody sees. There are generations building up and the population is building up. Obviously, if the population is rising then the no. of party balls will also rise, I mean in certain ways obviously. Because there are more kids and teenagers growing and then they will start partying and they will listen to a lot of music and stuff like that. So it’s gonna be growing forever. But my only concern is that if you are talking about artists, I really think that an artist should consider everything very seriously in terms of the basic technicality and little bit of basic things that they need to know, and rest all is taken care of. Whatever he or she is supposed to know as a person behind the control, which comes out as a lot of respect and hard work. It should not be taken very lightly. You will be at the peak of the moment when you have a huge crowd in front of yourself. If you don’t even try to have a good night, give them a good night. Then like they say, you can be successful overnight. But you can also have a downfall overnight. That is something very critical and people as an artist should understand that.

Nightlife in both ways is, an artist on one side and the crowd on the other side. It means they go hand in hand. If the crowd cannot connect with the artist or vice-a-versa, it can be fall back. And if it falls back, it could be a really bad one. I am glad that people are expecting the changes in different genres of music that have been going on. I myself in the past 10 years have seen so many different genres of music coming in, and India as a country we are also expecting these genres, which are really good. They are just not stuck to the typical same electronic dance music and the same Bollywood. These are big genres but apart from that, it is very less harmless to experiment any more. You can just experiment and try something and people will accept it. People like it and I am seeing that. When I am playing that it’s not typical music anymore and people are still enjoying it. I am really happy and it is a whole new experience to see people dance on something that is probably new and has not been introduced in the country before, and you are one of the few people that are bringing these things into the country“.

What difference do you find in India and at the global level, as you have been to both the places?

There is actually not much of a difference except for me personally, that I get a little more nervous when it’s international because it’s a whole new experience and a totally different crowd and that’s the nervousness in me that whether they will accept me in the crowd.  If the vibe connects, you show the energy and you get the energy back from the crowd, then it’s 100 percent gonna be a great night. I usually play a bag of Summer Shrill, Bollywood and hip-hop, so I mix all of these. People who know me and know the kind of music I play will surely come. So it’s not very difficult to connect with the crowd. They know me and know what kind of music I play. There are a lot of Indians worldwide. So every time I go outside to play, there may be one fourth people are local, who are their friends there or someone who is trying to pace out for the first time. Gladly even they love it. Inculpating that I play a lot of Bollywood also, a lot of foreigners enjoy Bollywood music. It’s not different, but it’s still different. It’s on your mind, psychology, that it’s your country and your people”

5. You wowed us all with your mixes during the 7th season of Indian Premier League. How was that different from being a jury member in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs and Sa Re Ga Ma Pa?

“My roleplay in both the series have been completely different. There in the IPL, I was the DJ playing in the studio playing music for the cheer girls. Me and Joshua, the drummer, we used to have a really good time and we were like one family in IPL. They were loving the whole feel of me. It was nice being there. In Sa Re Ga Ma Pa the judges were there as well, but most of the season went by the jury members marking the contestant. Most of the times it was depending on us whether the contestant will go ahead or not and every person’s marking meant a lot. And it had a lot of importance. There I was marking. And in one way or the other, we could guide them and mentor them. The same happened in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa last year. Here I learnt a lot technically, in terms of music, in terms of instruments, sounds and singers. It was a learning phase for me.

IPL was moreover my thing. There I was more like a DJ. I am glad that both the places still recognize me. It gave me a real boost as DJ Paroma. When I go and play, people want to see the same girl they saw on television. It really gave me a boost. So it was a learning phase in both ways for sure”.

6. How can this generation leverage on music and make it their career?

“Earlier people used to think differently. Most of the families used to have an objection to the kids becoming anything apart from doctors, engineer and lawyers. The parents never wanted to see their kids getting into any industry, because the rest is all an art and art is very competitive and creative. You have to be you and not just copy someone else. There are no specific guidelines to be an artist. You create yourself, your own name, your own brand. So parents used to hesitate. But now I think that they are giving their children a chance to choose and become what they want to, at least for a certain while. Just go try out there and see what the scene is. I am seeing that happening. Parents are becoming more and more open towards every profession. When women wanted to become air hostess it was a very dreamlike career. When I was in the industry, when I used to fly, everyone used to dream of this.

But now there are so many openings happening, the parents are cool about It, the girls are cool about It. There is no specific training that is required. If your presentation skills are good, if you speak good, if you look okay and if you dress up properly, you are friendly and if it’s all there they will take you. In this industry its very important for the generation today to have patience, which is seen very broadly. The younger generation if see that something is not working out then they will make a random decision for themselves. It’s so difficult that they make an impulsive decision and they regret it later because art is something that will not work overnight. You just need to hold back and be settled at what your decision is. It takes a while, sometimes it takes a couple of years but it will repay you. As DJ’s I would really want the younger generation to know what the technical skills are. Just be a simple good DJ. Just leave everything aside. Forget about how you are supposed to look in, forget about everything else. They have to respect the fact of who they are as an artist and just not throw it out of the window and take it very lightly. Patience, technicality and knowledge are very important, and the rest will follow. What worries me is the generation after that because that generation will learn from this generation, so on and so forth. It has to be really grounded and concrete for anyone who does anything”.

7. You are an idol for a lot of women out there. Any suggestion for them?

“I became a DJ but ideally for women, I don’t think of anything that women can’t do nowadays. Women are pilots, producers and anything and everything. Earlier people used to say that only a man can do certain things, there is nothing remaining like that anymore. I will not say women have taken over, but they have come to a par with men. Know who you are as a person and figure out what you can excel in. If you can have that quality recognized inside you, then it will work wonders because that will be something that will come from your heart. If you give your 100 percent to it, you will excel in it and the return will come like really well. I understand women have a lot of responsibility as well, but everything just needs to fall into place and at a particular time.

These opportunities will cross your path at a certain point in your life, and if you don’t grab them then it could be a little difficult, especially in your career shaping up and coming up. So I don’t think there should be any obligations to the women just because she is the women and she can’t do something. She should be equally given an opportunity to figure out who she is and what does she want to do in life. Just give it a try and see where you can get with it. One try must be there in anybody’s life whether a woman or a man”.

8. What is that one dream you still want to achieve?

She happily saysI want to be a businesswoman. I am still not sure in what way but I know I have the qualities inside me to run a business. I know I am a little authoritative but I am sorted in my head basically. What I learnt from my flying days to my DJing career and from DJing to a business person, I will try and put them all together.”

9. You are going on a 12 City Tour in the US. Tell us something about it. Are there any other upcoming tours?

“It’s not a 12 City Tour at the moment. Yes, we are looking at a 12 City Tour but it’s still not confirmed. It is very exciting for me because I have never been to the US to perform as an artist. There were a lot of times when I used to fly but this is one tour that actually gives me goosebumps. I have never been away from home for a month and a half and then again never played in the US. I am a little excited but I am also feeling nervous at the same time. I am very anxious about It.

Australia, New Zealand happened last year and will happen at the end of this year again. Having an American country in your profile is itself a very big thing for every DJ. To be called all the way from India and have the performance in various cities, it’s a very big thing. It’s happening to me after 7 years. I hope it goes on happening every year. Looking forward, let’s see how it goes. I am very curious to know what’s the crowd there, how It will be. Whether they will like me or not. Maybe when I go there and settle in my first city that confidence will be there that I am doing it right.”

10. How is DJ Paroma Chatterjee in real life?

She is very simple, very down to earth, lovable and caring towards everyone. Paroma Chatterjee if you come now and see me you will not even recognize me. I love to be without makeup. I love to be in the simplest of the clothes that I can. I can deal with a 7-month-old to a 7-year-old, that’s the level of my friendship. It’s a very broad spectrum. You give me any person and I will start talking. I am very very affectionate towards animals. I was talking to my mom one day, that if I don’t have a successor after me, I will make a will where everything I have earned so far will go to an animal NGO. I have already donated in a few of the NGOs and I am very happy that I want to start off an animal ambulance, where they can be taken to the hospital from the streets. Because a lot many times you see animals lying on the roads, injured and dying, but you don’t help or even if you want to you are like- ‘Oh my god they are bleeding, and my car and my clothes will get spoiled’. So there is a lot that can be done. There are not many ambulances, I have realized here. I love to go grocery shopping for the home and help my mother in the household work and play with my dog and spend time with my granny. And I am like this and I have always been like this.

I am happy that I have a complete flip side when it comes to me working and being DJ Paroma. But these are the two different personalities I really enjoy. I am glad that I am not calm and very chilled out, and people respect me for who I am. I am glad that I have earned that respect. I have a lot of professionalism inside me. I see that certain things happen the way I want them to work. ”

11. You are an artist. The MagZone is a platform which helps artists to showcase their talent. What is your message for the readers?

“If there is a platform for artists, it is the best thing a person can do. Because an artist cannot reach out to everybody, it’s not possible. And you guys are the pillars. You are the bridge between the artists and the audience. It is like a connectivity from one side to the other side. If an artist can reach out to a better audience through you guys, there is nothing better. A target audience is very important for an artist and that most of the time doesn’t happen, if not done the right way. I really get happy when someone helps someone to reach out. You are like a voice or a microphone to an artist. You guys are doing a really good job. And art always deserves a great respect“.

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Talking to her made me realize that there is a lot to learn from her life. She had made herself successful from her efforts and zeal to do something that she was passionate about. DJ Paroma has proved herself on a local and global level. The MagZone wishes all the success for her future endeavors and I know that the audience will be ready to party on DJ Paroma’s songs and enjoy every bit of clubbing.

Listen to her music and let us know your views in the comments below!