Sanjeev Raj is a self professed late bloomer when it comes to DJ'ing having spent the last seven years since moving back from Australia in 2011 learning the craft. In that time he worked in Singapore on the Kyo Festival that subsequently helped land the role as Entertainment Manager at Kyo & Ren Kuala Lumpur. Known also as Axel Groove (DJ) we sat down with Sanjeev to dig a little more on some of his favourite bookings to date and touch on his worse experience DJ'ing.
Hi Sanjeev welcome to The City List, what got you into DJ’ing and when?
I had been a fan of hip hop and electronic music for as young as I can remember but never took DJ'ing seriously because I grew up in a strict household. To my parents DJ'ing and clubs were the pathway to sex, drugs and eventually the Armageddon (these days they are very supportive)
How did you learn, did you have someone who mentored you or did you work through it on your own?
When I moved back from Australia in 2011, I signed up with Excessive Studios and began to learn under the legendary Bryan Burger. Its an institution that is still going strong till today!
What are some of your musical influences
Miles Davis, James Brown, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Patrice Rushen, Sade, Erykah Badu, Notorious BIG, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Pantera, Masters At Work, Kerri Chandler, Todd Terje....the list is endless!
Describe your sound?
I play a wide array of sounds but my heart will always be funk and disco. Sex pantherism.
What has been your most memorable moment as a DJ?
New Years Day 2017 playing the 8am till 10am slot at the Sweatbox. What an incredible crowd and party.
Without naming names what’s the worst experience as a DJ to date?
I was booked to play a private gig in an apartment building in Cyberjaya. The building was dodgy as was the sound. The turnout was so poor they had to close the two other "rooms". At the end they said they couldn't pay me nor would they even give me petrol money to get home haha. But every experience is a learning one and boy did I learn.
You’re also the Entertainment Manager at Kyo KL (and Ren), how did this come about?
I had originally worked with Kyo Singapore to put on the Festival in 2014 and had kept in touch with the management and team since. When they decided to open KL they offered me the role and the rest is history. Frequender Music
What’s your approach entertainment wise for both venues and what do you look for in the DJ’s your booking?
Our club is huge and in a 5 star hotel so we need to look at the mass market but at the same time not compromise our soul. I also pick quality over quantity and this is evident in our past bookings, both local and international.
Best booking so far, Local and international?
Talib Kweli. The man stood on the console and performed for close to 2 hours. A true legend. Seth Troxler, Pan Pot and Cosmic Gate were amazing shows as well. As for the locals, well all my residents rock the house week in and week out so they are my heroes.
Name one DJ you’d like to open for?
Kerri Chandler. He is god to me.
What frustrates you and what do you love about the music scene here?
We have a growing underground community, and great hip hop scene and a phenomenal trance following. My biggest frustration is the entitlement when it comes to guestlists and such. It takes a lot of work and money to bring down some of these acts so a simple RM50 cover charge that also comes with a drink goes a long way!
What else have you got lined up for 2018?
We have just announced Ben Gold (11 Oct) and Nakadia (6 Oct) and have a couple more big names coming through in November and December. Follow Kyo KL on Instagram and Facebook to keep yourself posted.