Curious with DJ Gokul

Gokul and The Tao Terraces are like synonyms! And what came out of it is definitely a Bangalore legend. The Bear House got in conversation with the very popular DJ Gokul, curious on this switch to photography. Read on!

Q1. How was 2019 for you?

It was lots and lots of hard work :)

Q2. Gokul and Tao are like synonyms! And what came out of it is definitely a Bangalore legend. What made this partnership so special?

I love playing music, and I love what we built at Tao. But you see, there are all kind of artists. My role at Tao, for which I guess I’m known the most, was way more than that of a DJ. Working closely with the owner Naren, we built the whole place and its experience and Tao’s loyal fan base from ground up. Deep House wasn’t high on the crowd’s wish list back then. There were a few early adopters. The strategically located DJ booth at Tao, gave me a good overview of the flow of people coming in from the left, what’s happening on the ground floor, as well as the numbers clocking at the bar. A club is first and foremost a business, and for me what mattered most is that the business is doing well. I wasn’t focussing only on my music, I was completely involved in everything. The next track I’d play at a key point in the evening would depend on the energy on the floor, as well on how the business is doing.

It was a project of passion, and something I will cherish forever, and Bangalore as well, for a long long time. And this was not possible without the freedom and belief I got from Naren, the great location he garnered for Tao, and the way the space was themed and designed.

Q3. What made you switch from being behind the decks to being behind a camera?

First let me answer something you didn’t ask. Unlike most people who enjoy nightlife, or are a part of it in some way or another, I neither drink nor smoke. I think what I like more is pushing my boundaries, with tech and gadgets, that are essential part of being a DJ. And beyond pushing buttons on a deck or twiddling knobs, its more about pushing buttons to make a business successful, and that depends a lot on understanding people and building connections. I did that quite well at my previous job at DIESEL. And took the learnings from that experience to The Tao Terraces project. It worked, and I was happy.

Eventually though, what really got to me was probably a combination of a couple of things. We all know that all kind of people show up at an establishment. Some understand the spirit of the place, whereas some don’t. Watching young people going beyond their limits. People who didn’t know what Tao was about coming to the DJ booth and placing requests. Repeated small talks. The same smile and ‘WHAT A SET BRO’, before a stranger leans in for a hug or a high five.

I had delivered a successful concept, and it was also time for me to push my boundaries at a new frontier.

Q4. How are being a DJ versus a photographer similar and different?

That’s an interesting question! To begin with, both career choices involve a sound (pun not intended) understanding of all the tech and gadgets involved to shape the experience one is trying to create. And what’s also similar is that in both roles, the knack of knowing the pulse of the people in front of you, be it a dancing crowd or a model/models, is very very important. What’s entirely different is the factor of time. A DJ set is a couple of hours whereas a shoot can go on all day. The pace at which I work while shooting. A photographer’s work is a lot slower, with very fine decisions on lighting, angle and a lot else. There is also the post-production angle to a shoot. And what’s totally unique is when I shoot spaces, with no people involved. I’d say that both share quite a few common things, but being a DJ is a lot more active and quick, whereas being a photographer is almost meditative in comparison.

Q5. How was the work experience at Diesel?

It was very good and I learned a lot from this stint in fashion retail. Things that have helped me in both my career as a DJ as well as in my photography. In a premium store like Diesel, there is a constant flow of people. You see thousands of people every month, and every one has unique shopping behaviour, what they like and why. It is first hand, real time customer experience and there is no better data. The understating of what a customer wants, right timing of a move and the power of building great relationships. All these takeways helped me clock the highest sales for Diesel in India.

Q6. Tell us something we don’t know about you?

I was born in Germany, and lived there for some years before the family moved back to India. And when we moved back, a lot of our home stuff was from Germany, including small but important things like a set of power tools. The culture of looking at every minute detail was deeply imbibed in my father, and I absorbed it from him in my early years. And I think this is what turned me in to a curious child. I have a deep appreciation for the German work culture, the design intelligence in all they manufacture, the precision of their engineering and how well the products they make perform and last. I think even the home appliances they made were so refined, it kind of ignited a fascination for technology and gadgets in me as a child. I started experimenting early and channeled music through the electric cables in my entire house, so that I could just plugin and listen to music anywhere.

Q7. Some music artists you admire and listen to often?

The Corrs, Jesca Hoop, St. Germain and many more.

Q8. What’s Gokul’s go to fashion advice?

Overdone may be, but never out of fashion, just have a lot of black in your wardrobe.

Q9. What are you looking forward to in 2020?

Lots and lots of hard work :)
Nothing ever can replace hard work.
Other factors like having a great mentor / teacher are sometimes out of your control.
But the hard work you can put in to improve what you do, is all yours.

Q10. Any advice for young artists?

Get your work in shape, then focus on your Instagram :P