DJ Pathaan is one of the very few DJ’s in the U.K. to have truly crossed the dance/world divide. Whereas many other world-music DJ’s lean nearer to the roots market, Pathaan’s history is steeped in dance culture, a stance that is reflected in his popular ‘left-field’ reviews for DJ magazine, and his numerous appearances in London, Ibiza, and New York.
Most interesting to lovers of the Asian Underground sound has been his Stoned Asia series of compilations, unique and highly absorbing releases that reflect a personal passion for global chill-out with a sitar twist. As musical tastes grow more diverse, his response has been Small World; a moniker showcasing the open-minded attitude of his club nights combined with an obsession for seeking out the very latest global platters. So with the imminent release of Stoned Asia 4 and Small World (both released on Studio K7 in the U.S.) it seemed a perfect time to catch up with this prolific DJ-turned-producer to ask how it all began.
Pathaan’s obsession with music started when he was a university student in Leeds studying software engineering. At the time, it was house music that was pressing his buttons, and he soon gained the admiration of acclaimed house DJ Danny Rampling. After moving to London, Pathaan worked for United Airlines as a Heathrow ticket agent and later as a passenger planner. The hours suited his extracurricular activities, for a 5 a.m-1 p.m. work shift gave him enough time to go record hunting in the afternoons and plan his bid for DJ stardom in the evenings.
Once the obsession with house music faded, he began a brief dalliance with trance began before moving on to more ambient forms of electronica. “I became disillusioned with the whole club scene because I felt that Clubland was full of pretentious, drugged-up people,” he confesses. Before going on a trip to India in December of 1996, Pathaan had given Talvin Singh a tape of his DJ’ing; upon his return Singh offered him a residency in the now legendary Blue Note café. At the club night that became known as Anokha, Pathaan’s chilled café sets would be heard alongside the music of resident DJ's State of Bengal and Talvin, who'd be whipping up the masses on the main dancefloor.
“At the time I was mixing anything from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, to Aphex Twin, to the Rolling Stones,” Pathaan admits. “I played right across the board, which is a formula that I have stuck to over the years. One thing that stuck with me since my house days was the sound of Balearic, where musically anything goes. So as long as there is progression and food for thought in why I’m mixing the sounds that I do, then I’ll do it.”
Nowadays Pathaan incorporates a variety of sounds from throughout the world, but he likes to maintain his strong Asian slant. “My aim has always been to share the hunt,” he confides. “Because I write for DJ magazine I get sent a lot of great music, and that combined with my passion for travel, and an inability to go past a record shop without diving in and buying loads of records, means that I’ve always wanted to share my passion. I don’t think