Pearl Miglani, also heralded as the First Lady of the Indian Electronic Dance Music industry, is one of the most respected artists in the country. Always playing with a smile plastered across her face and an unique determination in her music, she has been spreading love and music for many years now. Pearl is known and respected for her outspoken personality which shields her from any level of diplomacy or sugar-coating. Her words are as real and honest as it gets. She has been constantly pushing the boundaries with one goal in mind which is to spread happiness through music and to make the Electronic Dance Music space in India a better one. We feel absolutely blessed to have had this opportunity to talk to her about her music, inspirations and life in general. Before she spreads her magic at the Neon Gardens stage at the inaugural edition of Electric Daisy Carnival India presented by Budweiser, we invited Pearl for a ‘Sit-Down’ with us. Read the full interview below.
1. Hello Pearl, thank you so much for giving us your time today for this interview. How have you been? How is the house in Goa coming along?
What a lovely way to begin an interview. Just for that, I’ll send this back to you in a day instead of the usual week I take. 🙂
I’ve been very well thank you, ambling along in life, sometimes picking up the pace and running too, but almost always stopping to smell the flowers along the way. The Goa house is done and is now our little haven away from all the hustle and bustle of chaotic, big-city life. I have separation anxiety from it now, every time I leave.
2. You have been very selective of the gigs that you are doing in the last couple of years. What makes you as artist want to do a particular show over another one?
Well the reasons were both personal and professional. You go through phases in life when some things need to take a back seat for others. I was also busy dealing with legal issues some people threw our way and sadly that took time away from my music. All that is behind us now, so I can get back to what I love – creating, imagining, dreaming and working on things!
Professionally, yes, I’ve become very selective about the gigs because the music I play now has very little space for compromise. It appeals to a very tiny audience and is more a window for me to express my emotions through music. It’s a chance for me to get lost in what I do, along with others, and I really value each person who makes the effort to go through that experience with me.
There really is no point in me playing gigs where either the crowd is disappointed or I am. I couldn’t do it, not for all the money in the world.
3. In today’s music world, where it is becoming more about the showmanship, masks, confetti cannons, mystery identities than the music itself, you have been an artist who focuses only on the DJ’ing aspect. How important do you think is showmanship to the music and vice versa?
I smile every time I see a dj jumping off the console for that perfect mid-air shot. What are they doing up there jumping all over the decks and between the wires anyway? I then imagine a Sasha, or Digweed or any of the real heroes of our scene doing that and amuse myself. I imagine them putting down their headphones after a perfect mix to wave a flag and I find all these shenanigans easy to deal with after that. There’s a constant comedy show going on in my head when I see all this.
Here’s my take on this – Showmanship has Zero meaning for a real DJ – unless of course you’re a turntablist, then it’s almost necessary, but even there your skill counts for everything. Antics can only conceal so much.
The thing is that the new generation of clubbers view these antics and acrobatics as an essential part of the experience, probably because that’s all they’ve seen their favourite artists do from the beginning. Just getting lost in the music and mixing or transitions and the journey is not enough anymore. There is no journey to speak of really. I feel it isn’t valued as much anymore. I am speaking about the more commercial end of things here I must specify. Seeing a dj with headphones on, deeply concentrating on his mix, their hands moving around the console, is somehow an incomplete picture. There must be confetti blasts, CO2 cannons or fireworks to enhance the experience. I’ve seen even a very respected underground dj getting angry that the cannons didn’t go off in time with his music. It’s the world he inhabits now and has to play to.
I’m not sure if all the distraction is to retain shortening attention spans but I have a strong suspicion it is. There is a dumbing down of the experience to a huge extent and I think it arises from fear of losing that attention. The music has deteriorated too as a consequence. This music has no patience, no scope for beauty. Some of the best acts of our time, you couldn’t even see through all the haze and smoke. You could just feel and hear their music.
4. A couple of years back you kicked off the STEEL property which hosted some of the best female artists of our country. We were amazed by it and had an amazing time at the event. Do you think the Global Dance Music community needs more such platforms and showcases for the female artists out there?
I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for saying that. I started djing when there weren’t many girls in this profession, none that I knew in fact. So I often found myself quite alone in a very male culture. Luckily, I had some of the best men as colleagues who supported me, else I can assure you, I wouldn’t have picked up this skill at all or even stayed the course. But unfortunately, they are only a handful. Most of the girls you speak to will tell you of a huge struggle. A struggle to fit in and be accepted. A struggle against bias and insecure, misogynistic men. It was a novelty to be a woman dj a long time ago, so I was happy to answer all questions around handling my career as a woman. But many years down the line, I stopped taking those interviews – with a view to forcing people to accept that a dj was just a dj, not a female dj, not a male dj. That I wasn’t defined by my gender, but my work. I had to reassess this thought again though. I faced a lot of stuff professionally and now know, that it is important to speak about that journey. To join hands and communicate with other girls so that they don’t feel alone. There is a lot of camaraderie on the Steel nights, we find strength in each other. What many people don’t know is that this night works for other women who have been victims of abuse in some manner. I hope to host many more of those in the future because I don’t think we’re done with this issue at all. Far from it, in our country. It’s important to keep supporting each other, all while sending a message out and if that message can change even one mind, it would’ve been worth it for me.
Women djs globally have very different points of view. They operate in entirely different cultures and social structures. This journey is very personal and very real for each of us because we live it, have to survive it, earn and express through it. It can’t be generalised. Women in all professions face sexism – this is nothing new. But the level some men will go to to harm or intimidate you into quitting, is shocking. It takes all your strength to keep your chin up and keep looking ahead. I’m glad at least I live in a country where I have the freedom to stand in a club and play music, but there’s a lot of work to be done still, for complete and total acceptance and equality. I choose to not look at the shameful men around us and instead draw strength from the brave ones. The ones that are happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with a woman and not feel threatened. Who don’t feel the need to hurt, discourage or slander women. The ones who instead encourage, praise and inspire a woman and see the future of their own country in that woman’s success or failure.
5. Every artist has some inspirations that influence their music at a very early age and throughout their career. Who or what have been your inspirations?
My father’s record collection and my sister’s cassette collection. She was compiling these way before I was. Everything I learnt about music, I learnt from these two. We had music in our house all day, every day. All sorts of it. I couldn’t have asked for better exposure or a stronger foundation. My taste in music today, is wholly due to this diverse selection of music I grew up with.
6. Over the years, we have seen your sets float across different spectrums of the electronic music, from Dark Techno to Progressive to Psy in the same event. Do you decide what kind of music you will be playing based on the type of event you are playing at or based on the crowd reaction or something else?
It’s always been very simple in my world. I play the music I like. I play the music I believe will have a certain effect on the floor. Every time I choose a track, I instinctively imagine it playing out to a club and the reaction it will get. I can see it. My sets are usually a distinct sound despite this, a thread ties through these tracks and I can’t explain it. It’s just a sound. Sometimes these sets are very energetic but you will often find moments in them where you just want to listen and not dance. All I know is I cannot restrict myself to a particular genre. I have always liked music from different genres and find pleasure in stringing these tracks together on one night, as the night demands while also taking the club where I feel it has the potential to go. Crowd reaction is everything for a dj, you have to watch and feel them closely, to be able to define the next few minutes of a night.
7. Electric Daisy Carnival has been one of the most looked up to festivals in the global dance music industry for quite a while now. Finally they are making their presence felt in India, how does it feel to be a part of this line-up?
You might know that it has always been a dream of mine to see the scene as a whole evolve in India. That has the been the whole purpose of my career so far. That’s how it started and hopefully how it will end. I’m always happy to see new entrants into our world. I just wish for all of us that the big festivals and small clubs can one day have a symbiotic relationship. That one will feed the other and vice versa. That the bigger daddies so to speak, look out for club culture and this music’s future in our country. I want them to make sure we all develop and grow together and want to see an end to the greed that surrounds our music now. If we don’t, even the biggest corporation will have short-lived gains to make here. When you enter a new territory, it’s imperative that you learn about its history and put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
EDC has been around for a long time, in many regions, and I’m sure they’ve seen it all. I’m happy they’ve accorded respect to a lot of Indian artists by having a large number of us on their lineup. They seem to be cognizant of what came before them in India and are probably working with very sensible partners in our territory. I’m also happy to see their alphabetical lineup and individual artist fliers, something I’ve been wanting to see in our bigger format festivals here. It’s a tiny thing, but noteworthy as far as their intentions for us are concerned. If they do stick around for the rest of the year too, with smaller scale events, that’ll be great for our country. I also look forward to seeing their production, I’m sure it will be top notch. All interaction with them has been extremely professional so far – keeps the bar high for everyone.
Thank you so much Pearl for this wonderful interview and we look forward to dancing at the Neon Garden stage next weekend under the Electric Sky.
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