Interview with DJ Anupya

Interview: Bay Area Artist DJ Anupya on Newest Album, Graduation, And Desi Dance Network Community

"And I just remember dancing around to it and I just loved it. It was my mix. It was something that I loved because I made it."


When we sit down in a French restaurant, Anupya quickly scans the menu and makes intense direct eye contact with me. I look down and laugh when I realize the obstacle before us.

Credit: Sridatt Bhamidipati

As we begin to decipher each dish (names written out beautifully in French) with only our shared foreign language knowledge of high-school Spanish to guide us, we catch up.

Anupya and I played on the same middle school soccer team and bonded through four traumatizing years of teen angst, but it only hits me as I sit down that we haven't had a lunch years. In the meanwhile, she has released another album, this one full-length, been invited as a panelist and guest of honor for the upcoming DDCON, and will be soon moving to Texas to start her career as a software programmer, all while continuing to mix.

As we receive our starters, we start talking more about her past and her progress to the point that she is at now.

So, why did you start mixing?

I started in high school—with [a friend]. Up till that point it was only classical. I was only a classical dancer. So, when I started doing Bollywood for Spotlite [high school showcase], me and [my friend] would just put remixes we found online together. There's a certain charm to Indian music. It's something that you can't find in American music. It's not that I don't like American music. I just wanted to give that Indian charm to American music.

And that's kind of what all those DJs did online. The first person I remember finding was Sanjoy. He's actually from the Bay. And he made songs—songs I hated—into songs that I loved. And I was like, "How did you do that? How do you add one beat and change the perspective on the song?" I love the idea of making a song your own, my own taste. If there's something off about it, I can fix it.

When I went to college, I continued Bollywood. I did Lashkara [dance team], and I was on the mixing committee. During that year, I met Nitin, who was on the team, and we made our first mix together. And it was his concept, but I implemented it.

That summer after, just for fun, I made four mixes and I showed them to a friend and she said, "You should post these." So I posted them. At that point, there were a couple I looked up to already like DJ Ruckiss and Shrimix and BANED. Abhi — that's BANED — Abhi has literally become one of my best friends now and it's insane to think how far everything has come. But, back then these people would reach out to me and say "You have so much potential. You can do so much." I was like, "I am getting so much support from people I don't even know," and it just took off from there.

A lot of teams started asking me to do their mixes [sophomore year], and I did Lashkara's that year and everyone loved that mix. Ever since then I have been making team mixes. And I don't think I'm stopping anytime soon.

And you're being noticed! Well, you're a guest of honor now at DDCON. How did that happen?

Yeah! DDCON (Desi Dance Convention) got started last year, and DDN has become this giant network of people who are super into Bollywood, whether it be music or media or acting or dancing. They created this conference last year and then in the last year our dance team, Lashkara, was doing really well so I got noticed through that. People would start watching our videos and see the mix, and say "Who made that?"

Credit: Desi Dance Convention

The way I started, I didn't even think that, 'Oh, I am a female DJ. I'm not going to get noticed.' But people said, "You're a female DJ. And you're getting noticed. That's insane!" They said, "You did that without questioning gender roles or anything." DDN Sound started last year. All the music-oriented people [in DDN] were now called DDN Sound, and they created a board. So, [DDN] made me the lead of Ethics and Diversity because they thought that I could influence other people. I've just been reaching out to a lot of female DJs and its just been great.

Were there not a lot of female or women DJs in the DDN circuit before?

DJs, in general, have been predominantly male. Even in the Bollywood circuit, or even here, there have been basically no female DJs anywhere. There have been singers who produce their own music, but they're considered singers, not DJs. In the circuit, they call anyone who produces a 'DJ.' Even if you're just arranging two different songs together, you're considered a DJ, and that's associated with live mixing. Girls just get really scared of that.


You have to put yourself out there, you have to stand in the middle of a club, all eyes are on you. It's just scary. Because of all the stereotypes of female DJs, if someone sees you up there, they're immediately thinking, 'Oh, it's a female DJ. She's not going to be great.' That's just the notion.

But, I didn't even process that when I started and there was one girl who was a DJ, Shubashree. I remember talking to her and asking, "Is it hard for you?" And she said, "No! It's really not." She's the reason why I started actually going for it. And, recently there's been a lot more [female DJs]. It's been really cool to see a lot more female DJs starting because that wasn't a thing three years ago.

Credit: Sridatt Bhamidipati

And you just put out an album right now. It's called Graduation. Can you tell me a little bit more about this album?

Before this, I released two albums — [the first] wasn't a full-out album, but like six songs that I made in my free time that I put out and I called it Redemption. And there were two of those, Redemption I and Redemption II. But this album took the most planning. I want to say that I started thinking about it in April and it was my last quarter on Lashkara. And I had dedicated four years to it and it was a big commitment, it wasn't easy to do. And when this ends, will things change? In terms of the people around me, will they change?

I wanted to make sure that these people knew what they meant to me. I can pinpoint things about them that have influenced who I am today, they have influenced characteristics that are part of me now. And I just wanted to thank them for that.

I thought of who I wanted to do this for, and it started with my high school group. I wanted to find something that they like, and then I branched out to my roommate and all the seniors. Just a lot of people that I needed to thank. And, it ended up being 23 people!

Why Graduation?

I wanted everyone to know that I don't know what's going to happen from here on out, but I want this to remind you that I do love you, and forever it's going to be that way. And that's the reason I named it Graduation. It was me putting my goodbyes into music 'cause I knew I could do it 100%.

Did it give you a lot more freedom? Were you able to be a little freer because you didn't have the constraint of producing for dance teams?

There was actually a time that I hated mixing. And I never thought that this would be something I hated. Because when I would be doing it for teams they would just reject a mix, and I wouldn't know why. That's why I emphasize communication so much 'cause I am just going to overthink 'Why don't you like my mix?' So, for a while, I didn't want to be a DJ.

There's always been a point in my last two years, at the height of competition season, where I would go "I don't want to do this anymore!" But, after competition season ends, I start mixing for myself. I start mixing the way I did when I started and realized this is why I don't want to quit. This is why I love it. I mean, I did kind of restricted myself 'cause these songs [on the album] are ones my friends like so I wanted to use those specifically, but the mixes I made were mine.

Are you going to keep mixing after graduating?

Yes. I am doing teams next year, too. Not as many 'cause I can't handle that as a working girl. [Laughs] But, I'm doing a lot more mixtapes. I'm taking lead on a couple so any DJ that collabs with me, it will be my say, which is really cool!

Show some love and support to DJ Anupya's work (especially her album), and check out her social media:

Cover Image Credit:

Sridatt Bhamidipati// Graduation PhotoshootCredit: Anupya Nalamalapu

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.

Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.

Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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A Summary Of My Morning That No One Asked For

Because low key who doesn't want to know more about me-- amiright?


If you can't tell: I have writer's block. Which is fine, totally cool, we can work with that! BUT also prettyyyy annoying. ANYWAY.

Who doesn't like hearing about somebody's day (only if you low key hate the person but that's okay-- a valid feeling!!)-- about the way someone woke up, the thing that they ate for lunch or even their night routine (which I promise I'm not going to torture* anyone to THAT hell, but also because I don't even have a night routine! Amazing but also sad because lack of consistency!).

So today, as a Wednesday (Wednesday was when I wrote this, two hours before my article deadline, don't judge me), was a bit of a busy day. When I say busy-- usually waking up at like 7:30 or 8 AM (IF I can wake up, which big mood) and ending (not really) at 9 PM and then studying/doing work/textbook readings/last minute articles (hello!) until like 2 AM. Which is late (sorry roomie!!), but that's college!

With that said, today I actually woke up at 9 AM and thus did not go to my first class-- which if my sister reads this and tells my mom I will literally come back to Utah and slap her. Anyway I quickly took a five minute shower (TMI!), which is surprising since I can never do that usually but that's okay, improvement! I got dressed (internship ready!) and while I was putting mouse in my hair, I remembered that I have a take home quiz due for my next class (at 10 AM) that I have not done yet-- which I promise you, I am a procrastinator, but not that big of a procrastinator. Anyway I sat down, turned on my laptop (which is broken by the way, thanks HP laptops) and kind of finished my assignment in 10 minutes but left two questions unanswered, but like live life on the edge, amiright? I finished getting ready, which wasn't much because it was already like 9:50 AM and I needed to go so I pretty much just finished applying mascara and filling in my brows and grabbed the PB&J; from the fridge that was supposed to be dinner yesterday which wasn't, but that's another story, and grabbed ONLY my keys (foreshadowing!), locked my apartment door, ran down the stairs and got on my bike!

And let me stop here and tell you how much I love my bike. Without my bike, I would be late for everything and plus I hate walking. Also because my apartment is kind of far from campus (not really but everyone tells me it is) and with my bike only takes about 5 minutes to get to class.

Remember the foreshadowing? As I was riding my bike and almost halfway there (to be honest I could've turned back but I'm lazy), I realized that I forgot by ID, which I need to check out a laptop from the library (because my laptop is broken, thanks again HP who supposedly fixed my laptop before for the same problem but here we are again) and to also just live my life as a USC student (meaning to get into the library and to also get into my apartment building). But I thought, it's chill, we're fine, we're late so let's focus on the issue of getting to class on time.

So I crossed that big intersection to enter USC and went up that ramp thing by VKC (USC people will know), parked and "locked" by bike (my bike lock doesn't really work because someone can easily pull it off my bike and yeah) and speed walked to class (which means going up the stairs which is also when I realized that I wore the wrong shoes because my flats almost slipped off TWICE) and got to my classroom exactly at 10 AM. And this all happened within 10 minutes -- see what I mean about my bike being a literal gift from god (kidding, but also not)?

Anyway I got to class and the professor isn't even there so I could've literally filled in my eyebrows a bit better but whatever. At this time I was also regretting not going back for my ID so that I could at least rent out a laptop and continue reading research articles for my essay due in less than 2 weeks (!) while the professor lectures (sorry, but like if it's not on the final, you've lost my attention). But since I didn't have a laptop at that time, I went ahead and took a picture of my textbook readings which for the record I didn't end up reading and pretty much wasted space on my phone and wasted like 2 minutes of my life but it's okay! Anyway the Professor arrived (at 10:02 AM) and she started setting up her laptop while I decided, hey, maybe I should finish those two other questions that I didn't answer in the take home? So I did that and ended up changing my answers and had enough time to spare before we actually turned it in! It goes to show you that procrastination actually does work!!

The class is also actually pretty cool! It's a class on traditional Chinese medicine (which I honestly don't know why I'm taking since I'm a POLITICAL SCIENCE MAJOR), that includes acupuncture. Which, honestly is something that I was apprehensive about, but it's actually pretty scientifically sound (from the few studies out there) and most importantly has seemed to benefit patients (which I have seen in real life!). Today the professor just went over the nutritional side to eastern medicine, and what I found interesting how each color and taste to a food pertains to a specific body part and even deficiency!

If you haven't noticed by now-- this is really long. And I'm barely at like 10:15 (to be honest, less than that). But it goes to show that even a morning can be somewhat interesting-- or I don't know maybe it's just me! Anyway, this might be a several part series where I describe the rest of my day but maybe not! Probably just something for writer's block!

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