Aanam Gill is a local DJ currently living in Surrey, who believes in making an international impact through music. 

Gill, who is performing at the 5X Blockparty on June 11, sat down with 5XPress to chat more about her foray into DJing, aspirations about her future, and much more. 

She said that has always been a creative child who dreamt of having a career where she could express herself in any way she chose. She had an upbringing where her personality, her passions and her pursuits were always supported.  

Her parents were notorious for throwing basement parties, where she was exposed to different genres from Punjabi folk music to Reggae, and eventually discovered DJing

“One day for one of the parties, my brother decided to get the full DJ equipment, like the turntables, speakers, lights and all, because we are extra as a family like that and I would sneak in behind the deck, mess around, and I just got into it,” she said. 

When DJing, she  said she is inspired by her environment and she praises the deep-rooted culture in Surrey, where different cultures interact and work together. Her playlists perfectly capture being both Punjabi but not raised in Punjab, with the nostalgia of 90’s Punjabi beats pumping alongside electronic music. 

Born in Slough in Berkshire, England to Indian parents, her upbringing meant she was constantly aware and admired both sides—a beautiful melody of being Punjabi and British, because as she puts it, “a little bit of spice is always needed.”

Gill said at first, she always saw DJing as more of a hobby than  a career, until about 2 years ago when she started becoming consistent with her playlists and started receiving recognition, so she started seeing this as a viable path and something she could focus her energy on. 

Like in every other industry or career path, Gill said she  found it quite intimidating at first,  being one of the few females in the profession when she started DJing at 16, because there weren’t many platforms that existed where female DJ’s could experiment. 

Tokenism was a big challenge, and she had to learn to differentiate between events that wanted her for her work and others who were simply including her because she is a female. Despite being well established today and performing on numerous platforms, she still tries to make sure she is appreciated for her work, instead of just as a box to check. 

As a result of her experience and her desire to help future DJ’s, however, Gill worked to build the Tala Collective, where DJs of all different backgrounds and walks of life could experiment and make music. 

This collective was created to fill that space and lack of representation with an open platform where different kinds of genres were mixed to create music that is universally beautiful. Artists from all over the world come together to create music, and many small DJ’s are getting exposure and representation through this spotlight. 

“I simply named it Tala which literally means rhythmic pattern in Sanskrit, in hopes of sending good vibrations with music because that is the purpose,” she said.

Gill is currently doing a residency with Plus 1—a radio station in the UK, along with DJing events, producing her own track lists and running Tala Collective. She also has numerous playlists on SoundCloud that transcend cultures and cater to an audience of varying tastes, from lofi to 90’s hip hop.

She is passionate about every step of the process but stated that her favorite part about DJing is the power that comes with being able to provide an experience for so many people and having the ability to control the energy of the room. 

We certainly can’t wait to experience the good vibes with Aanam at the 5X Blockparty on June 11! Get your tickets here. 

About the author

Manraaj Grewal

My parents named me Manraaj, which means Queen of Hearts, and I have been trying to justify that name ever since. I am an immigrant from India changing one country, and five schools since then. I am known from dropping Bollywood references in daily conversations and am currently studying Communications at Douglas, hoping to become a journalist. I love reading biographies of successful people, watching a select few TV shows (fine it's mostly Bigg Boss!) and every imaginable sport there is (I especially enjoy the yelling during cricket matches). Follow me @manraajkaur27"

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5X Press is a forum for opinions, conversations, & experiences, powered by South Asian youth. The views expressed here are not representative of those of 5X Festival.