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djkalcutta

Doing It Her Way! Meet DJ Kalkutta.

Hailing from  NYC, we had the pleasure of catching up with an extremely inspiring female turtablist and producer DJ Kalkutta!  Kalkutta is one of the most talked about young female turntablists on the competitive and mainly male dominated circuit of DJs taking up residency in NYC.

Keep reading, because this real life “Cinderella” is on the fast track to living the good life on her terms and having a ball doing it.

We got the 411 on DJ Kalkutta aka "Bollywood Barbie" and found out that where she has come from, is just as important as where she is going!

Born in Calcutta, India her birthparents surrendered her to a Mother Teresa founded orphanage at just 2 days old. She spent the majority of her infancy there until she was adopted by an American woman who gave her a chance at a brighter future in  United States.  Growing up in middle America she studied all aspects of music voice, piano, and cello. At 17 she moved to New York to further develop her skills in music by enrolling to study production and audio engineering at NYU’s Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music. DJ Kalkutta has graced the turntables at some of NYCs hottest venues including the Boom Boom Room, Tenjune, the Greenroom, and more.

We caught up with Kalkutta fresh off the heels of a gig that took her jetsetting to Aspen, and we left the conversation feeling more inspired than ever to travel the world and use her soundtrack to do it.

LS: Did you always know you wanted a career in the music industry?

Kalkutta: I always knew I would do something in music but I really thought my road would have began as a producer. I grew up in a small Midwest town, and wasn’t really exposed to a lot of pop or hip hop music culture. We couldn’t even get BET in my hometown.  I had no industry connections when I moved to New York. Growing up I was always drawn to music but trained classically. I studied Jazz and had a love for show tunes. Actually, when I first arrived in New York I thought I might end up on Broadway because of my love of show tunes, but I was very quick to fall in love with the pop and hip hop culture that surrounded me.

LS: How hard was it for you to break into the competitive DJ scene in NYC?

Kalkutta: The guy I was dating at the time had a lot of influence on me and encouraged me to go after it. I learned on real Vinyl, which there are not a lot of people who can claim they know that craft in today’s digital age. It’s a dying platform for the  younger dj set.

I was really dedicated once I decided I wanted to follow my passion for playing and producing music and beats and connecting the two. I worked a string of crappy jobs while I was “paying my dues.” Like I said, I had no industry connections myself so I really had to go hard at getting myself out there wherever I could. In the meantime, I worked a string of odd jobs to support myself. I was a gogo dancer, I had something crazy like 21 waitressing jobs…I was really bad at waitressing. I know its kind of an embarrassing # to admit, but it happened, and brought me to where I am now.

You recently went on tour with pop singer Karmin as her official DJ, do you feel like that was a huge break in your career being able to travel with such a large scale tour?

The tour with Karmin has been amazing. We’ve traveled the world and shared the stage with some of the most amazing artists from Lady Gaga to Pitbull. We’ve been all over the world from Brazil to Anguilla to Aspen and even played Madison Square Garden. It’s been a dream so far. My job takes me all over, so I don’t really “vacation” anymore. I’m very lucky to get to travel. We’ve also had an amazing time promoting the tour by doing appearances on Ellen, SNL, Live with Kelly, and the Today Show to name a few. I just try and take it all in.

LS: We love to inspire and lead a “pay it forward” lifestyle at LifeSushi. We always say, you never know who might be reading this and be moved to follow their passion. Do you have anyone in your life that had a positive impact on you following your passion for music?

Kalkutta: My mother had a huge influence on me growing up. I never felt that I needed to live life in a certain way or do things in a certain order. I always knew that I could go after whatever it was that I wanted to do. My mother adopted both myself and my sister and raised us as a single mother, so that right there is a testament to living life the way you want and on your terms. You don’t need a partner to live a happy and fulfilled life.  She always taught me to make myself the priority. You see so many young 20somethings steered onto that path of “go to college, meet the guy, have a baby, and then their career takes the backseat.” I feel you can do whatever it is that makes you happy…like I said, make yourself the priority.

LS: What artists inspire you musically?

Kalkutta: I was born in 1987, so I was born into a time that was right at the height of these very edgy women in music coming into their own. MadonnaMariah. They were all strong sexually empowered women. I love the 90s pop artists that I really grew up on too. Spice Girls and Brittney Spears. I know it sounds funny to say, but I really did grow up on their sounds.

LS: What artists do you want to work with?

Kalkutta: Kanye for sure. I think he’s just a genius. Calvin Harris is amazing. …and Rhianna. The sound she is putting out right now is just so original and genius in itself. I’d love to work with Rhianna.

LS: We hear you have a love of fashion. Fashion Week in NYC is just around the corner, what an electric time in NYC. Have you worked with show’s in the past?

Kalkutta: Last year I worked with Avril Lavigne on her line Abbey Dawn which was featured on the show Kourtney & Khloe Take New York. I’ve done shows for Betsy Johnson, Ted Baker, Diesel, and Adidas Originals to name a few.

LS: Do you have any fashion blogs or sites that we should know about?

My favorites are:

Fashionindie.com

Stylelikeu.com

 

LS: Looking back, do you have any advice that you might give to your “20 year old self” as you are just starting to figure out your path in life.

Kalkutta: “Don’t pay attention to what anybody else is doing. Its so easy to get caught up in social media these days. Its easy to read something dwell on it and get caught up in your own head. Your inner negativity can carry over into all aspects of your life. I always try to remind myself to not take everything so literally I read on those social media sites. You can read one bad thing and slide down that "rabbit hole" into a negative spin. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Professionally you really should only surround yourself with positive things and spend time with the people you really want to emulate or work with. “

LS: At LifeSushi we really do believe in the healthy life trifecta. Healthy body + Healthy mind = Healthy Life. What do you do to keep your body in shape?

I’m into pilates and yoga, but where I really get my exercise is dancing. Professionally I spend a lot of time playing great music, so dancing is a way I find myself staying fit.

LS: Finally, what do you like to do for fun when you are “off the clock”

Kalkutta: If I’m not working I’m usually at a show. I love music…all kinds. This weekend I’m actually off to Aspen to a Jazz Festival where I’m going to see Mumford and Sons play. I recently saw a show in NYC, he Scissor Sisters who are fantastic. So, where there’s music that’s most likely where you’ll find me.

To Keep up with DJ Kalkutta follow her on Facebook or Twitter and  you can also subscribe to her SoundCloud page to listen & download her recent most recent mix!

Now, For Your Moment of Zen:

DJ Kalkutta reminds us why..WE LOVE THE 90s!!

(p.s. make sure you hit download and take this mix on the road)

 

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