Nakul Ambilkar, better known as SEQU3L, is one of the few artists who has been responsible for putting India on the global dance music map.
The Pune based DJ and producer embarked on his journey on the decks in early 2004 and took over a lot of residencies various local clubs for over five years. It gave him liberty to experiment with different styles of music and helped him clinch his liking. Having played at some of the most reputed festivals and clubs around the world, Nakul has managed to carve a niche for himself and his sets are sure to leave you grooving on the dance floor. We had the opportunity to speak with this man of multiple talents and get an insight on his method of working, his opinions on the growing dance community in India, his love for aeromodelling and a lot more!
Shivani – Hi Nakul! It’s great to have the opportunity to speak with you! How has 2018 been treating you till date?
SEQU3L – Hello Shivani. 2018 has been going really great so far. It’s August-end already and 8 months went by so quickly. I’m very thankful that I have done some amazing gigs so far, all the months have been super busy with a full calendar and back to back releases.
Shivani – How did it all begin for you as SEQU3L? And how did the moniker originate?
SEQU3L – I’ve been djing since 2004 and have done a lot of residencies in Pune non-stop till 2009. Although when you are a resident DJ you have to play all styles of music but I always loved house/electronic music in particular. I knew eventually I wanted to produce music and when I was ready with some material to put out I was looking for a fresh project name to perform/release under. That’s when the sequel project was born. About the name, a friend asked how do you define your music, and my answer was ‘real life stories’ So we were sure I wanted something that relates to ‘stories’ and ‘sequel’ sounded really nice so we locked that in.
Shivani – You recently remixed Mad Bear’s “Shell Ghost”. What usually makes you pick a track to remix and what does your work process ideally look like?
SEQU3L – I love how that remix turned out. I get too many remix requests and it’s always tempting to remix a track and also release music on new labels. I have already released 3 remixes this year and I have another 3 in the process. It takes me seconds literally to know if I like the track for remixing or not. It just comes so naturally to me. I am always looking for a strong melodic hook that’s first priority. And if the track has multiple layers of well-written chords/strings/atmosphere/sounds/arps/melodies that’s an added bonus.
For the shell ghost remix I just sampled out 2 sounds from the remix stems they sent me which were very ‘stabby horn-like sound’ and the moment I heard the original I had ideas of how I am going to go about it. I’m happy it worked well and a lot of DJs are playing it.
Shivani – Over the past 3 years, we’ve seen the techno and deep house scene burgeon and break out off it’s “underground” tag. What do you believe is the primary cause behind this?
SEQU3L – This is so true and it’s a broad topic to discuss. I think the commercial house music (EDM, electro etc) was slightly overdone and it got really noisy sounding at its peak point. It’s a very natural trend after a certain style is overdone the audience gets fed up and wants to explore something deeper and different.
There was always a crowd for techno/underground but when EDM started losing its charm a lot of people jumped the ship to different styles which include Techno/deep house/Afro/Electronica/new disco/deep progressive etc. Even the clubs became aware of this and started doing underground showcases on Saturday nights in many cities. I honestly like to call it ‘House & Techno’ scene at the moment wherein ‘Deep house, progressive, tech house, deep tech, melodic techno’ etc is basically just melodic house music and then there is proper straightforward techno ‘minimal, groovy or warehouse style’
The term ‘underground’ no more suits for house music nights, which includes stuff that I play. But I guess its only a way to define something that is ‘non-commercial’. In fact, today’s deep house is basically old progressive house slowed down (with new sounds of course) Overall I am happy with the current music scene irrespective of how complicated it is to define genres. This is a blessing for a versatile artist like me.
Shivani – What does the future hold for the techno and deep house scene in India?
SEQU3L – The future is now already! Multiple nightclubs in different cities are now doing ‘House/techno’ music even on Saturday nights where the norm was Saturdays were always reserved for commercial music. In fact, this month I have done all 4 gigs on Saturdays in Hyderabad – Mumbai – Raipur – Bangalore. This is a huge change in itself. I think slowly the whole underground scene is moving to mainstream, Techno & House has taken over.
Shivani – What is one thing you like and dislike about the crowd here?
SEQU3L – I like everything about the crowd now. There is a wave of a new crowd along with the regular music lovers in all the cities. I play a lot all across India each month and every time I go to a certain city I see new faces (along with the regulars) They are open-minded, enthusiastic and ready to absorb and resonate with your frequencies. No complaints and power to the crowd!
Shivani – You’ve played at multiple festivals in India apart from your club tours. What is one place and festival that you really look forward to playing at and why?
SEQU3L – I have played at all major festivals and they all are SO good. This is a really tough question to answer. I have heard so much about Magnetic Fields (could never attend as its always during the peak season) but I would love to perform there. The festival I really enjoyed this year so far was ‘VH1 Supersonic’ major reason being such a huge festival found its home in my hometown and everything is so well executed, fantastic stages, amazing production and most of all the genuine family vibes from the crew, just pure love. I also enjoyed the ‘District’ Locals which had their first year and it was really nicely done.
Another festival I really enjoyed was ‘A Day Of Slick’ Mumbai (Khar Social). I cannot even start how musically inspiring those 2 days were. Rampue and Rex Axes completely blew our minds. And really great sets by all the artists. Prateek is always a step ahead in his programming and I think he brings in so much fresh talent and music in the scene.
Shivani – Any particular artist who according to you is a rising talent in the Indian scene that the audience should watch out for?
SEQU3L – So many! My fav upcoming Producers – 8 Bit Culprit, Midnight Traffic, Aaryan Sharma, Shreyas Hariprasad, Dot Dat, Nosh & Sj, Jay Pei, Tasneem, Pal-E. Some fantastic Dj’s I’ve got to hear recently – Pin Drop, Mrunal (Euriska), Yash & Dev (Coco Pune), Rohit Naik, Murklin, Ashes, Ana Lilia, Arpan.
Shivani – An issue that most artists face in India while they play their sets is track requests that are absolutely unrelated to what the artist is currently playing. Has it ever happened to you? What is the most absurd request you’ve received and how did you handle it?
SEQU3L – Has it happened to me through my career? Oh hell yeah! Being a resident DJ for so many years you just learn how to handle the requests. Having said that I actually don’t remember anyone coming to me with absurd requests recently. I know that sounds strange but I’m being very honest here. Maybe I am performing at all the right venues and for the right crowd off lately? You do every now and then get a ‘can you play English songs’ kinda request haha.
Shivani – Apart from music, we’ve also seen you delve into Aeromodelling! Could you tell us something about it and what drew you towards it?
SEQU3L – I was always very passionate about Airplanes/Aviation. I wanted to be a fighter pilot actually and my uncle was in the air force. Since that did not happen due to various reasons the passion still stayed within me. And I came across some youtube videos of remote-controlled flying planes some 10 years back or more and I was instantly hooked. I probably watched all the Rc airplane videos there were on youtube at that time haha.
And I was desperate to get into the hobby some 10 years back and there weren’t many resources or connections with the right people at that time, I could not even get my hands on a decent Radio transmitter and receiver so I was stuck, I did find some toy airplanes which flew for 10 seconds and I crashed them haha. It was only recently (some 2-3 years back) that I needed a distraction from doing music 24/7 that I got back into the hobby.
Only this time I could order everything I need online with a few clicks. So I built my first trainer Jet made of bio-foam and various materials, taught myself how to fly Rc planes on a simulator game on my computer for some 30 hours (1 hour a day for a month) connected with other flyers in Pune and my first plane ‘Just flew’ for 5 long minutes. I did not crash it as it flew exactly as it would in the simulator, in fact, it was MUCH slower in real and so easy to handle.
I was screaming with joy and goosebumps all over. I built more than 10 Jets and planes after that and they all flew great. I love this hobby because it gives me different kind of creative satisfaction, takes me out in nature away from the computer and I get to learn so much about airplanes, actually I might design my very first airplane/jet from scratch soon, how cool is that? :D
Shivani – What does the remainder of 2018 hold in store for you? Any upcoming releases you are excited about?
SEQU3L – I am pretty much done with the releases part with some 4 Ep’s already out and a lot of remixes. September – December is going to be very hectic with gigs/festival season kicking in and I am very excited! In the meantime, I am taking a break from releases till the year-end and just focussing on finishing some original tracks that I have been working on this year. Some really special tracks so I am giving all my time to them. I do have 2 remixes coming out by the end of this year but that’s about it.
Shivani – Any message you would like to give your fans?
SEQU3L – Hello and big love to the fans! I actually made an Instagram story post about how overwhelmed I felt recently after doing some really amazing gigs in all the cities and so many people walking up to me with good words about my music. Honestly, I had no clue that my music is reaching out to so many people, I do get tons of messages on my social media, story tags, posts and so on but to be meeting so many people in person after a gig is really humbling. I just want to say I am thankful and I appreciate all the messages and love and this is something that motivates me to make more music.