The celebrity DJ, famous for his collaborations with Justin Bieber and Major Lazer, performed in the city over the weekend and drew 7,500 EDM enthusiasts
It is a night lit by cellphone lights. Fans hold up phones that twinkle like a sky full of stars. Then, much like The Dark Mark that appears in the sky in Harry Potter, a blazing green snake icon flashes on the dark screen.
This heralds the arrival of DJ Snake at Sunburn Arena. The superstar French DJ and record producer is currently on a tour of India. He played a set this weekend at VGP Resort to an enthusiastic crowd of thousands.
“I love watching people enjoy my music. It’s monumental to see them going crazy; chanting, singing along and dancing like there is no tomorrow. I feel overwhelmed that people have a good time listening to my music,” says DJ Snake, clambering onto the podium to take in the scene. It’s a gathering of 7,500 people, beating last year’s number of 4,000 who had turned up to witness Afrojack belt out his hits.
Among the crowd, there are wagers about which popular tracks the DJ would begin with. While ‘Lean On’ tops the bets, Snake surprises all by beginning with a series of unfamiliar beats. But they are catchy and fuses genres, so no one complains.
Organised by Global Sound (Property of Sparkkz Event), the evening had entertainment off stage too as enthusiasts danced, incorporating steps from dappankkuthu and bhangra to Bharatanatyam, and even salsa.
Snake keeps breaking into dialogues with the crowd. Just before playing ‘Get Low,’ he asks the audience to sit down, which they do like obedient kids at a school assembly. Next up is ‘Lean On’, followed by ‘Propaganda’. There are more trippy beats, then ‘Middle’ and his latest chart topper ‘Let Me Love You’, a collaboration with Justin Bieber.
As someone who has worked on a number of successful collaborations, DJ Snake says his favourite has been the one he did with with rapper DMX at Coachella. “There, people always want to bring artistes and surprise guests, but everybody’s bringing the same kind of artistes. We hadn’t heard about DMX for a while. He had a lot of classics, so I was determined to get him on board. It took me a good two to three months, since he doesn’t have a cell phone and he ain’t active on social media. When I was onstage, I didn’t even know if he was going to show up for real. I dropped the record and he stepped onto the stage and killed it. I’ve done a lot of things with superstars, but this was so special. This is bringing culture. I say that because the kids in the crowd knew the songs but they didn’t know DMX as an icon,” he says.
Snake started DJ-ing at the age of 14, inspired by French black-and-white cult film, La Haine. “DJ Cut Killer, one of the biggest European DJs from France, was in one of the scenes, and he was scratching (a technique to produce percussive or rhythmic sound effects by moving a vinyl record back and forth) like crazy. I knew that is what I want to do,” says the 30-year-old.
Before music, he had another passion — graffiti. He would draw on walls on the streets and that’s when he came up with his stage name ‘Snake’. “Everyone started calling me by that name. As a DJ, when I was looking for a name to go by instead of my real name — William Sami Etienne Grigahcine — ‘DJ Snake’ was the obvious choice,” he says.
As for graffiti, he says he’s never too busy for it. “Do I plan on integrating it as part of my performance? Now, that is an interesting thought,” he says.