Single-handedly responsible for defining a sound and building a lexicon of bass music unique to India, Nucleya aka Udyan Sagar is undoubtedly the country’s most popular and influential independent artist.
Over the past three years, Nucleya has made his mark as an Indian dance music producer, producing anthems (‘Akkad Bakkad, Bass Rani, Jungle Raja) that are the soundtrack of a new Indian generation – frenetic, loud and unabashedly Indian. Today, the Nucleya sound is in itself a genre and has spawned the rise of producers making desi bass.
As a trailblazer of the desi bass movement in India, Nucleya’s role in developing the genre in India is no less significant than what Skrillex did for dubstep in the United States or how Diplo and Major Lazer introduced global bass into the mainstream. It’s no coincidence then that Nucleya has been chosen to open for international touring acts and bonafide bass stars like Skrillex, Major Lazer, Diplo and Flux Pavilion in India.
How did the name Nucleya come about? Is there a story you’d like to share?
There’s a very interesting story behind the name – is what I wish I could say hahaha, but unfortunately it’s not. The word NUCLEYA used to be my email password back in the days and I just randomly picked it and started calling myself NUCLEYA.
How did you pick electronic music as your genre in the beginning?
Music Production happened almost by accident. I was promised a computer on passing 10th grade and the plan was to install and play video games but a friend happened to load Fruity Loops software as well and we ended up cooking a bunch of beats together. This is when I realised I don’t really need to be able to play an instrument to become a musician; the same beats could be produced electronically.
Who or where do you get your inspiration from while making music?
I record myself making weird sounds and then play them back to myself again and again till I develop a beat or a melody in my head and then it’s all about giving a shape and soul to it. The most important thing for me in this whole process is to have peace of mind and positivity.
What’s your view on the current electronic scene in India? Has it evolved from when you started?
The Independent music industry has grown tremendously since those days. It now has a backbone of its own and an infrastructure that is able to support more and more artists. The introduction of alternate media and music distribution channels has made it 100x times easier for artists to get their music out there and you no longer need to be signed on to a huge record label to get your music distributed. There is now also a much larger audience that is eager to consume music that is not main stream. With International artists regularly touring in India now, you can tell that the global industry recognizes this as well. It’s only going to get bigger and better.
You broke into the top DJs in the world. How do you feel about being the bridge between the Indian and global electronic music scene?
Extremely honoured to begin with. I’m super grateful to the fans for all the love and support that they have shown for my music. Most of all, I’m quite happy to know that the international audience will soon be exposed to more and more Indian independent music and not just Bollywood music.
Would you be keen on collaborating on any commercial movies in the future?
If there’s a really interesting project that comes my way, I would be more than happy to take it up. I will make good music if I’m given the freedom to produce the way I want to produce. If the creative terms are going to be dictated by someone else then it does not make sense for me to be involved.
Your album launch had such a massive turn out which is quite unusual in India. What are your thoughts on that?
I have always wanted to do a free show. When Tej told me that we can make it happen, It was slightly hard for me to believe at first but then we went through the whole plan and that was it. It’s a dream come true for me, I never imagined things to get to such a level. I still get goosebumps every time someone asked me about the NSCI show.
Who are your favourite artists in India right now?
There’s this young guy from Pune, his name is Ritviz, I really enjoy his work. Su Real and Divine are doing some really amazing work too. I recently heard a duo from Chennai called Sapta and they absolutely blew my mind.
Do you think independent artists are finally getting what they deserve in India?
Slowly and steadily, yes. It’s much better now than what it was like 10 years ago, but there’s still a long way to go. 80% of the country’s audience still consumes only Bollywood music and probably isn’t even aware of the existence of independent artists.
Tell us about your projects in the pipeline?
Well, my son has to build a castle for his school project, so that’s first on my list. Other than that, I’m looking forward to putting out the last few tracks of Raja Baja and I’m also shooting an episode for the on-going season of The Dewarists.
How would you differentiate your music from the others in the same genre?
My music has really interesting melodies, which when mixed with electronic beats makes it fun to listen to. Also, I try to make my songs more interesting by adding un-heard of vocal cuts where ever possible. I have seen many times, that the vocal cuts have done way more for a track than the track itself. For example, the track Street Boy from the Koocha Monster EP has a has a Haryanvi vocal cut right before the drop which made the track go extremely viral.
Tell us about your most exciting fan moment till date.
I have to say, I have some of the most epic bunch of fans and I don’t know how I can thank them enough sometimes. I walked in backstage at a gig once and there was a kid with a tattoo that said NUCLEYA. A tattoo is a permanent mark on your skin and when I saw it I was completely out of words. I couldn’t believe someone would actually do that for me.
You have performed across different stages. Which was the most memorable and why?
The most memorable one will always be the stage on the back of a truck at Ganesh Visarjan. That’s where I launched my first album Bass Rani. I didn’t think it would be possible to pull it off but thanks to the amazing team at OML, it went off without a hitch. Another one that I will never forget is the Raja Baja album launch at NCSI. I’ve never had a complete stage built specifically for myself and the whole show was a dream come true.
Your music is a rage among the young crowd right now. How does it feel to be on the limelight?
I’m just happy that I’m getting to make the kind of music that I like to make and people are appreciating it. I don’t see this as a limelight just for myself, I see this as the growth of Indian Independent music. More and more people will now get exposed to other indie artists, who are extremely talented and deserve the attention.
If you woke up one fine day with a million bucks in your account. How would you spend it?
I have absolutely no idea.
If you had a chance to undo something from the past in your music journey, what would it be and why?
Nothing really. I strongly believe that everything that happens in ones life happens for a reason and you need to go through certain things to reach a certain place. You have to just keep moving forward.
Is there something special/exciting coming up in the near future that you would like to tell your fans about?
I’m working on a track for The Dewarist along with one my favourite musicians in the country today, so that’s going to be really special. I can’t wait to give out more details about it. Also, I will be playing at EDC Mexico in February 2017 which I’m really excited about.
What is your idea of a perfect setting to compose music? Tell us about your best setting till date.
The thing about me is, I can make music sitting absolutely anywhere, all I need is my laptop and headphones. But if I really had the choice, I prefer my study room where I have all the different types of gear that I need and a homely and positive atmosphere.
Do you have a mentor in your genre? If yes, who is it?
Not particularly. There are many friends and other musicians that I look up to, but I’ve not had a mentor as such, at any point.
How do you think music festivals in India are helping musicians and artists?
I feel it’s a great platform for artists to show case their talent to an audience that might not be a fan of their work just as yet. Music festivals, especially the multi-genre ones, are a place where people might come to watch their favourite act, but end up also catching a bunch of other acts that they would not have heard of before, but after that day, they became fans. I owe a lot of my success to the afternoon slots at Bacardi NH7 Weekender back in 2012-13. So many people saw me perform over there and were introduced to my sound for the very first time.
What according to you is the most Ideal Date?
My wife and I once set up a tent on our terrace and lit up a bunch of candles in and around it. We spent the entire evening over there just hanging out and watching the sunset together. That was very special.
Your message to upcoming and aspiring artists in your genre.
Stay real and keep it fresh. More importantly, believe in the power of your music and stick to your original and unique sound. And most importantly, keep at it and don’t give up.
If not Electronic, what would you have been playing? – Candy Crush
Best stage you’ve performed at – Main stage @ Electric Daisy Carnival, India
Your dream stage to perform at – Don’t know yet
Three words to describe your self – Happy, Humble and Honest
His newest album, ‘Raja Baja’
Released in October 2016, the signature Nucleya tune effortlessly mixes Western styles with Indian pop culture motifs. He reclaims folk and street sounds from obscurity and makes them his own, effectively using bass music as a language that speaks to listeners of all ages and tongues. His latest album, Raja Baja, and subsequent mammoth, pan-India 18-city album tour – the biggest-ever tour attempted by an independent artist in India – will further see him cement himself as the undisputed king of desi bass.