DJ Spotlight on Sikh Knowledge
Our city is packed with shockingly talented DJs, selectors, producers, beat makers, and musically creative queers. We’re so proud to be a part of so many of the scenes that make up our dancefloors in all types of spaces and cases.
This Q&A is the first in our spanking new DJ Spotlight series, and we’re so happy it’s with Sikh Knowledge. If you don’t know, now you know.
How did you get our DJ name?
I was obsessed with Wu-Tang as a kid, so my friends gave me the most Wu-sounding name possible. So, Sikh Knowledge – supposed to be a double entendre, ’cause I’m a pig.
Is DJing something you’ve already dreamed of doing?
I make beats for people. I am a child of a disturbing polyamorous relationship between J Dilla, El-P, RZA, Da Beatminerz, 4th Disciple, Madlib – anything ’90s dancehall. My beats always served as their own ideas, often meant to stand alone without a singer/emcee.
I started DJing at the same time ’cause rhythm matching/mashing and fucking with tempos was a natural extension of what I did when I made beats. The thing is, all my artfag beats weren’t playable for lazy people not trying to get all nerdy at a party. They were more appropriate for beat circles like Artbeat Montreal and Red Bull Music Academy, where we could talk about production methods, etc. DJing teaches you what kind of beats work for which venue and how to keep things effective and simple. Making beats teaches you how to bring musicality to a party. So yeah, I’ve always been doing it.
We are already big fans of your, but why does this city need a DJ like yourself?
[Wu-Tang kung fu voice] “I have many styles.” Nah, but seriously,as a queer person, I’ve organized J Dilla nights, played many sets of dancehall, keeping it 100-percent homophobic-slur free (because people have a flawed perception of reggae/West Indian culture with respect to sex/sexuality), organized underground ’90s hip hop events, incorporated a bhangra/afrobeat sound into an otherwise top-40 party, played my own remixes/productions, played Toronto/GTA artists in spaces where people aren’t even hip to what’s going on in the city. You won’t hear some of the stuff I play in many queer-dominated spaces.
The city needs me as a DJ ’cause of my selection, which is at once often unorthodox, makes you dance, yet is true to the influences of a first-generation Sikh queer kid who grew up on the streets of Montreal and now makes Toronto home. I often say I loved Toronto and its music scene since the time Toronto loved New York and its music scene. It’s a love affair through and through, and I’m on Prep. I’ll play Run the Jewels, but I’ll also bless you with some Company Flow. I’ll play Shabazz Palaces, but I’ll hit you off with some Digable Planets – all opposite my own remixes of local artists or my own shit.
Give us three words, verbs or adjectives that describe your musical styling?
Box-popping, cultured, tight.
Have any Pet peeves?
Requests, a DJ with a bad attitude, and terrible audio in a venue.
What is that fave moment everytime you spin?
I rarely spin with planned sets. I may have ideas I’ve thought about immediately before or sequences I like, but I never plan an entire set ’cause I like going off adrenaline. I love that moment when you’re at one with the space, the sound, and every person there, and you’re thinking four, five tracks ahead, and you know each blend before you actually do it. That to me is magic.
What is your secret weapon song?
Currently, “Stormzy-Sikh Knowledge,” ’cause I don’t have to do a damn thing to embellish that shit. I produced it, so I just press play at the right moment in the night, and the build and drops are toooooo fun.
Who are some DJs in the city that you love?
I have to say, for their sheer consistency and ability to do this full full full full-time and be kind people who can have a conversation without any ego, Blackcat and Nino Brown. There are others as well, for sure. I can go to their sets and trust the vibe. I can have a drink and let loose as another DJ/partygoer in the crowd. And they are queer people of colour doing their damn thing, and I love it and live for it each and every time. I also need to tip my turban to Mark-Ché Devonish for bringing more vibes to spaces that would not otherwise have them in the city.
Check out Kanwar's mix he created exclusively for Yohomo below!