It started at about 9 pm on May 23rd , when we went to pick Aqeel from his hotel. He was waiting right outside the hotel lobby for us. His charming and down to earth persona just cannot be missed. He is a simple lad, much simpler than any celebrities I have met-- very easy going and receptive. In fact later while he was waiting in the lounge for his time on the console, he was busy talking to everybody around, offering them drinks. Since he was so tied up on time, we decided on making the most of our time in the car and our editor, Neha Mahajan, struck a conversation right there to know Aqeel Ali, a man of many talents, this man who is known, the world over as the Pied Piper Of Music Lovers!
NM: There is not much available on you on the internet about you. I mean apart form your songs and music, people don't know the Aqeel behind the garb. Are you media shy?
AA: (In a surpried tone) That's news to me. I have never been media shy, and you can ask me absolutely anything you want to. I am a very open person and have not hid anything. It's just that I remain too busy with my stuff. I am sure there is a lot written all across, but it's surprising to know you could not find much about me.
(Suddenly there is a call... and he excuses himself and starts off with a M***** F*****, much to my astonishment but just as I realize he was talking to a very dear friend of his.)
NM: So tell us something about you family?
AA: I have two children Azaan (7 years) and Fiza (4 years). My wife Farah takes care of my kids.
NM: How do your kids react to your kind of routine when they don't see you at their bedtime?
AA: (laughs) They are used to it now. But you know my kids are my life, I try and spend as much time as I can with them. Every evening 6pm to 10 pm is dedicated to them. Moreover I work just 90 days in a year, so rest of the days are just with them. I get a lot of toys and gifts to pamper them, so they remain happy. Once I leave NJ, I'll go to Chicago, reach Mumbai and two days hence would leave for Singapore-- a vacation for the family.
NM:How did you develop interest in music and DJing? Were you always so inclined towards it?
AA: It happened about 15-16 years back. I did not know what to do, so once when I was partying in Hong Kong, I saw DJ play music, I was so intrigued by the simplicity of the job, just mix up songs you like and make wonderful music. Apple based Logic software is what I use for mixing up. I thought it was much simpler than doing anything, so started practicing it and creating good music. I never learned Djing in a technical way. I just happened to practice more and learn it over a period of time. It needs dedication.
NM: What is your USP?
AA: Every track that I play is remixed, but not necessarily out of the famous ones. They are from my personal collection.
NM: You are a music director/ super club owner. How has the journey been so far?
AA: So far, so good. I am loving each day of it. I am not really into music direction, I am working towards it. I just did one song for Shaadi No.1 called Aiyashi. I also own two clubs Poison and Bling at Leela, Mumbai. (Suddenly he shows his discontent at the name Poison, wanting to change it to Sweet Poison).The only draw back is that one does a lot of late nights and too many flights. It is so intoxicating, that I thought I'd quite Djing once I turn 35, but that didn't happen.
NM: What are the genres of music that you play? And what inspires you?
AA: I make music that I like, to pull a crowd, it is very important that you make music that you believe in. That is why I mostly do just two genres-- Bollywood and House. They pull any crowd and make them groove. I remix popular songs, there is no particular reason why I pick a certain song and remix it, in the end it just needs to sound good.
NM: What is the future of Djing ? I mean even today, it is not considered a main stream profession, so do you think Dj's have a future?
AA: Oh yes! There is a lot of demand and a very few Djs available. The right talent just cannot get noticed. That is the reason why I have opened my own DJ school in Mumbai, called Future DJ-- to tap on the right kind of talent. And it is not just that we'll teach them the know how of the machines, we groom them completely, and if I feel that a certain person has talent, I will market him as well. I have the right kind of infrastructure and contacts. And this course is just a three month thing, What I learnt in 15 years, I will pass it on in this short span. They will have a very handy know how of things. Rest practice is what will take them to heights as a DJ.
In the future, you'll see me doing this-- tapping talent. I have my own record label called Power Play. Also I am currently working on a website, where Djs can sell their music directly and take the profits, without any middleman.
NM: Lets have a quick rapid fire with you.
What's You Favorite Perfume: Cartier Declaration
Holiday Destination: Mauritius
Designer Brand: Armani. It fits me so well, that I don't have to even try them on.
If Aqeel was not a DJ? I would have been a Pilot. But when I saw the books, I dropped the idea (laughs)
Where do you take your kids? Malls and I make sure we take two to three holidays in a year.
Favorite Food: Japanese, Thai and Chinese. Strictly in that order.