“People inspire me, as does a deep passion and belief that music is integral to humans’ well being and their emotions.”
Currently Ranked No.1 in the United States and 11th In THE WORLD for Hard Trance on thedjlist.com, GHOSH continues to be a leading force in the electronic music scene both in the U.S. and abroad. His motto, “Only Good Can Judge Me,” has become as well recognized and respected as the prominent DJ himself. GHOSH spins hard, yet effortlessly produces his deep and edgy, emotive trademark sound. DJ Ghosh is proof of the adage “if you can imagine it, it is possible.”
Always on the hunt for talented local gems making it big, bazaar had the opportunity to explore deeper the birth of the elusive DJ Ghosh.
GHOSH is a strange construct. Initially I had come up with the name so as to hide my identity from that particular industry, and for a good 8 years or so, no one knew my real name (Sulaiman Abu-Ghosh).
It was also a way to try and exhibit a different way of being – character wise, and looking – fashion wise; Batman to Bruce Wayne, as it were. I was free to do a lot of things that I would not have been as free to do had I gone under my real name. Being in the US, people might have been more wary of someone with a name as Arab as mine.
My core concept of GHOSH though, was to have a larger than life hero for the Trance music community. In many parts of the US, Trance was not looked upon positively (unless you happened to be called Tiesto or Armin Van Buuren), so I took it upon myself to not shy away from the genre, and loudly pronounced that it was the main genre I played, which was easy considering my love for it.
When did you first realize your deep love for electronic music?
Honestly, from a very young age. Unfortunately, at the time (Early 80s) in Kuwait, there was no real internet usage to speak of to search for music, and most electronic music was still on vinyl records. I found myself (silly as it may sound) listening to a lot of video game music in the options menu on my Sega Genesis, trying to pick apart the different synth sounds in my head, and asking friends or family who flew back and forth from Europe to bring back any “electronic” sounding music tapes for me. I remember fondly my first experiences listening to Depeche Mode, Erasure, The Shamen, then moving to C+C Music Factory, Black Box and Haddaway and the like. I loved those early, raw, non-fully processed synth sounds, but disliked the excessive cheesy or “diva” lyrics immensely. So the search continued until I went to the US in ‘93.
Do you remember the first Trance track you heard that left a lasting impression? If so, which one.
Indeed I do. I was almost in tears the first time I heard it because I finally found the sound I was looking for. It was the Sanctuary Mix of Sarah Mclachlan’s “Silence”.
Had you been working on your music in Kuwait prior to 1995?
I had not been working on music prior to moving to the US, but I was searching for it. Unfortunately at the time, I did not know what it was called.
Did you have your family’s support with your career choice?
Unfortunately not. They are wonderful parents, and I love them dearly, but traditional as they are, they viewed most things that had to do with nightclubs and the like in a negative light. So it was very tough to do what I did without their approval, and I think a lot of my massive achievements were slightly marred because I knew they did not approve.
What would you describe as “pivotal moments” in your life that got you to where you are today?
The particular one I recall was at a famous underground club named “Soma” in Colorado that I frequently attended. A DJ from Platypus Records, whose name eludes me now, was performing that particular night. I was behind the booth talking to a few of my friends when the agent burst out from behind the booth in panic, saying that the DJ had apparently “had too much” and could hardly stand up. The resident DJ had left already, so I raised my hand and offered to cover for him until they figured out what to do. So onto the decks I hopped, looking around for something like a hat, or such, to cover my face so that I wouldn’t be recognized, and found these ridiculously large pair of white sunglasses, the style of which remains my signature to this day. The DJ, despite his intoxication, was still pleasant and even started passing me unreleased white label records telling me to play them. Needless to say, the performance went great. Everyone thought I was part of the headlining act, and I got a LOT of free promos out of the deal, as well as quite a few bookings from the agent, including a couple of opening performances for Sander Kleinenberg and Tiesto.
How long after you moved to the US did you get your first gig performing for a big crowd?
It was quite a few years. I was about 14 when I moved to the States. The end of ‘99 is when I bought my turntables and started to learn. The decent gigs started coming in around 2002, and then all was in full swing around 2006, when I acquired my residency at the Church Nightclub in Denver. But my first “big gig” was at the Matrix Nightclub back in 2003.
Had you visited Kuwait often between 1995 and 2006, when you were invited to come back to host events? And had you been keeping track of the growth of the Trance music scene in Kuwait and the Middle East?
I honestly did not visit Kuwait very often –I was touring mostly in the States and South America, so I did not quite have the time. I was rather saddened by the state of music here, because even with the radio shows and performances, pop and hip hop seemed to be the only genres of music that had a strong footing in the area (besides Lebanon). In my opinion, it’s due to the lack of venues – you really have no venue with which to showcase electronic dance music. That is its intended function, Dance Music, and when you cannot dance to it… it tends to not permeate the society too well.
What was it like touring the Middle East for a change? Are the crowds or their energies different?
Very much so. I “know” my American crowd, so I know they will enjoy the tracks that I plan to play. In the Middle East, I had to feel out the crowd a bit more. It’s like dating; you are establishing a relationship with them. Once I figured out what they were into, I enjoyed performing for them as much as I enjoyed them dancing for me. It was interesting because a lot of them look to how Americans and Europeans party to establish how parties “should be”, so they found me interesting, being Arab but having lived and performed in the States. I enjoyed them immensely, and hope that more projects and performances can be arranged and put together in the near future.
What was your most memorable performance and why? And how did you feel before and after?
Ah, yes. I would have to say the first night of my residency at the Church Nightclub in Denver. I thankfully was well loved by my fans, so the first night of my residency was a full house. And I mean FULL HOUSE. The place was packed to the roof. I think we exceeded capacity that night. I was full of confidence climbing up into the DJ booth, and after I had put the first record on, I looked over the sea of faces, listening to the chanting… my knees almost gave out. It is strange how much different the DJ looks from the crowd, and how the crowd looks to the DJ. You are the focal point. Everyone is looking to you to provide them with the tools to have a good time. Everyone is looking to see how much fun YOU are having, so that they are inspired to have the same amount of fun. A lot of DJs look dead serious when they play, and that kills the crowd’s energy. At the end of the day… you are an entertainer. So entertain. In any case, I managed not to fall over during the entire performance, but at the last song (“What Else is There” – Thin White Duke Remix), I was on such an adrenaline rush that I removed the needle of the wrong record. Imagine a crowd of just under 4000 shouting and screaming with music and then suddenly… music cuts out. I luckily had removed it during a breakdown in the song, and knew exactly where to put it back, so, with some creative finagling, I made it seem as if it was what I had wanted to do all along and the crowd went INSANE. If I had thought they were excited before, they were tenfold more so then. After the song, the absolute rush of euphoria of a job well done, of everyone having had enjoyed themselves, and knowing that I had just clinched the deal was unreal. The signing of autographs after that show took me well into the wee hours. Unreal. It was that gig that solidified the “persona” of GHOSH.
Do you plan on permanently moving back to Kuwait?
I go to where the opportunities are. This is the land of my birth, so I’ll always have an attachment to Kuwait. If I see opportunities here, then I will stay. If something lucrative comes up elsewhere, I may very well be tempted to move. I’ve lived all over the world, so I’m used to being on the move.
What are future plans for DJ Ghosh?
At the moment, I am honing my production and remix skills during this downtime, and working on an album of original productions and collaborations. Once complete, a tour will be in store. Stay tuned.
Will there be future repeat tours of the Middle East?
I sincerely hope so. Being fresh back to the Middle East, I’m looking to coordinate with sponsors and promoters to help get this project going full throttle in the area.
As music is still a maturing art in Kuwait, any advice to our talented musicians who are trying to make it big?
Quite a few pieces of advice. First and foremost… don’t let it get to your head, no matter how big you get. You are, first and foremost, an Entertainer. So entertain. And never neglect those that supported you and love you… you would not have made it where you are without them. Be true to what you love. Don’t alter your music or style to get ahead, because fads come and go, but your passions will always show. I played and loved Trance forever, even when others thought it unpopular, and when it surged back, all the other fad-hoppers disappeared, since their identities were ever-changing and not solid. And don’t forget: Practice. Be GREAT at what you do, or don’t bother doing it at all.
Where can we follow DJ Ghosh?
*This interview is brought to you in collaboration with Kuwait Music. Log onto www.kuwait-music.com for more on their activities.