SANJAY is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer who has recently arrived on the scene on with his debut single ‘Dive’. Full of tribal rhythms and electronic grooves, SANJAY’s style is refreshing. He believes that ‘music is medicine’ and aims to raise money to help install solar power in the village of the Huni Kuin people in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. The stunning video for ‘Dive’ shot in the Joshua Tree desert in California, features renowned actress Oona Chaplin and Ninawa Pai Da Mata, the spiritual leader of the Huni Kuin. DMCWORLD got to speak to SANJAY and what an interesting character he is. Here he chats about shooting the video for ‘Dive’, his first experience with plant medicine, and his upcoming ‘Initiation’ EP…

Hi Sanjay welcome to DMC. Let’s set the scene first; where are you in the world and what did you have for breakfast?

Thanks for having me. I’m currently in Joshua Tree, CA. Breakfast this morning was celery / cucumber juice and some vegetable mineral broth. Not that exciting haha. I usually keep it pretty light in the mornings.

Congratulations on the release of your debut single Dive. Tell us about the inspiration behind the track.

Thanks, I’m so excited to be sharing Dive and putting it out in the world. This song was birthed from a challenging but significant time in my life. I felt like I was at a crossroads in many ways, going through some type of transformation as I was making decisions around my life path. I asked myself if I wanted to keep pursuing music, and if I didn’t, what would be on the other side, and would I be fulfilled. So many things during that time led me to really sit with myself and dig deep. That’s where the lyrical content and sonic journey come from. When I learned how to meditate, my teacher would always tell me to “dive into the darkness.” At its core, it’s about how sometimes the only way out is through, and to do that, we need to go deep within ourselves.

It’s very eclectic in genre. How would you describe it?

Haha, I get this question a lot, and I ask myself the same thing. I call this track “Shamanic House.” I wanted to capture the essence of the desert (the intro is an iPhone recording of coyotes out here) while also bringing in those world / tribal elements. When I was producing and writing this, I was envisioning performing it with a live band. I was for that “live electronic” sound. It’s dancey, deep, and above all, has power. I’m a rock and roller at heart, so that flavor is usually always in my tracks somewhere.

SANJAY - Dive (Edit) Official Video

What can you tell us about your experience meeting the Huni Kuin people and how did the meeting come about? 

I met Ninawa, the chief of the Huni Kuin people, at a yearly gathering called Aniwa. My friends from The Boa Foundation put on this annual event hosting indigenous leaders worldwide. I was fortunate to connect with him there and develop some rapport. He was there giving various lectures, personal healings, and leading workshops around his culture and music. I was blown away at the joy he carries and how amazing his music is. He has this phrase, “so alegria,” which he often says, which translates to “only joy.” His presence is intense and inspiring. After that experience, I knew I had to ask him to be in the video.

The video for Dive is sensational, shot in the Joshua Tree desert where you currently reside. Tell us about the video treatment – are we witnessing an actual ceremonial ritual?

Thank you. We did catch a shooting star making that video. It’s pretty wild that everyone’s schedules lined up so perfectly to make it happen. I had the concept of the video in my mind for some time. I envisioned a strong, powerful female character going through a life-altering process around a fire. The team at Blend, myself, and Oona flushed out a treatment, and then the rest of it was on the fly. We started to put the treatment together, not knowing if Ninawa was even going to say yes. Once we got that blessing and were also able to have Txana Ikakaru and Batani in the video, we added more formal elements to the story. You’re witnessing very authentic aspects of a ceremony in the video. For example, the blast from the pipe that looks like smoke is a tobacco snuff powder they use to clear out energy that’s stuck or idle. The acts of healing they perform on Oona, and I are very much a part of what they do as Pajes / Shamans. The fire, combined with their magic, gives the viewer a glimpse into what these ceremonial rituals are. The coolest part of working with the Huni Kuin is that they walk authentically. How you see them in the video is how they are in real life.

How did yourself and Oona become friends?

Oona and I met back in 2017 when I was DJing at a festival. She helped a friend who was a speaker, and I happened to help a friend do sound at the same stage. We started chatting and have kept in touch ever since. She’s always been a supporter of the music and has been my doorway to meeting the Huni Kuin and The Boa Foundation founders. 

What was your first experience with plant medicine like?

Intense and beautiful. We could do a whole interview just on this, haha.  It was around the same time I wrote ‘Dive.’ The first experience I had was pretty challenging, but the messages and realizations I got propelled me into the transformation that led me to make this record. I remember feeling super connected to myself and my essence during that experience. I shined a light on some significant changes I needed to make in my life. Entheogenic medicine, done in a proper container with intention, is potent.

Through the release of Dive, you’ve launched a fundraiser to install solar power in the village of the Huni Kuni people in partnership with The BOA Foundation. How did you get involved in this charitable work?

Oona introduced me to Vivien and Rudy, the founders of The Boa Foundation in 2018. I spent a weekend with them where we got to drop in and connect around the indigenous and how important they are as wisdom keepers on this planet. They told me about their festival, Aniwa, and after attending Aniwa in 2019, I knew I wanted my art to have some giving back element. The solar project we are fundraising for is to help the Huni Kuin become more sovereign and independent. I asked The Boa Foundation about what project we can do around this video, and they forwarded me the proposal they had gotten to do this solar project. It felt very fitting, and so now we are raising funds via Go Fund Me.

Let’s go back a few years, how did you get into music production?

I played guitar and sang in high school, but I distinctly remember wanting to do more. My friend James had a Roland MC-303 sequencer, and I was mesmerized by it. I worked a job that summer to buy it, and from there, I started to learn about making beats. It was a fascinating machine as you could create each layer separately and then arrange it all how you wanted. The 303 encouraged you to tweak your ideas and improvise. I spent a couple of years cutting my teeth on that, playing and singing songs over the beats I made on it. Once I started learning Pro Tools and Albeton it just snowballed into taking these ideas and getting them to sound how I wanted. I was fortunate to work at a couple of recording studios as well. I retained and learned a lot during those times as well.

Your parents wanted you to be a doctor. How did you deal with that, knowing that path wasn’t for you?

Haha, great question. Don’t remind them. In all honesty, my family is now supportive, but it took them a while. Growing up, they would often have pandits (Indian priests) come to our house. Almost every time, they would ask the pandits what I was going to do with my life. The answer was always, “he will be a doctor.” It was a lot of pressure to pursue a path that they felt was fitting for me.

Being a musician, or a “creative” of any kind without a “stable” job, is probably the worst nightmare for any immigrant parent. It was tricky to convince them I’m not meant for that path. They probably still have hope I’ll drop all this one day and return to my studies. Eventually, I learned how to shut out the external and internal voices and focus on what I was genuinely passionate about. Letting my passion lead me always set me straight. At some point, you just realize you have to do what makes you happy and not feel guilty for it. The funny part is that I did find medicine – in music.

What does a SANJAY DJ set sound like?

Electric. Primal. High energy. It depends on the crowd and place, but I’m always looking to bring in funk and groove elements into whatever genre I’m spinning—finding cool rhythms, fusions of sounds, catchy melodies, throwbacks, good acapellas. My favorite genre to spin is “golden era” 90’s hip hop. In the past couple years, it’s been a lot of house and electronica.

What can we expect from the next two tracks to be taken from your ‘Initiation’ debut EP?

The other two songs, ‘Passage’ and ‘Electric Medicine’, are much more vocal-driven than ‘Dive.’ This EP tells the story of my initiation, and ‘Dive’ sets that mood. The following two bring you into the journey a bit more, both lyrically and emotionally. They’re uplifting and sonically very colorful.


‘Dive’ by Sanjay is out now. Click link to donate to the Indigenous Solar Project: