India explodes! World exclusive interview with label boss Sansadj…
Interview by Dan Prince
Sansadj – a massive welcome to DMCWORLD. Well in a word…WOW! What an impact you have had on the music world since yourself, your brother Onkar Sood and close friend Jasjot Singh launched the label in 2015. Let’s kick off with the name Morior Invictus – ‘I die undefeated’. Tell us why you chose this name…
Hello Dan, thank you for having me here with you today. Well, when we decided to start out, my partner and I wanted a name that although sounded cool yet had a very profound and deep meaning to it. We went through several names and liked a few also, but most of the common ones were already copyrighted and registered. So the final choice came between ‘invictus maneo’ and ‘morior invictus’, both of which had deep and profound meaning. After a brief discussion, we decided to go with ‘morior invictus’.
Can you tell us about your family background?
My grandparents are teachers and my parents are both doctors, my father is an ophthalmologist and mother, a gynecologist. Most of uncles, aunts and their children are also postgraduate doctors. Well, I am an ophthalmologist as well! There are one or two in the family who enjoy classical music but yes, I am the first of my kind!
Your earliest musical memory?
I always loved music but I can’t say I can clearly recall a single memory. It’s like a part of me that has always been there and always will be. In early childhood, I was more into Bollywood music, and then gradually I became more interested in mainstream pop music. From there, the transition to rock came pretty quickly and now I have been with dance music for last 6-7 years, perhaps more.
When did dance music first appear on your radar – and how?
The 1st time it really hit me was watching Tiesto play his trance set at his peak in 2003, I think this was in Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam. I was truly stunned with the music and the spectacle unfolding before my eyes. It was magical; it would be fair to say it captured my imagination.
What was different about dance/electronic music to you?
There are many things that are different. Dance music is all about energy, there are so many options in terms of the subgenre u can produce and listen to. I believe there is something for everyone. You don’t like trance, no problem there’s house music. You don’t like house, no problem we got dub step. Not into dubstep, no problem, we got drum and bass! There are no limits to what artists can produce and no limits for consumers in terms of what they want to hear. It’s an expression of freedom both from a production as well as a listener point of view. That is why it has become such a global force and something to reckon with in the 1st place, I believe and I hope this trend continues.
Who were the first producers/DJs/parties that you encountered in real life?
Well I have attended Sunburn festival a couple of times, I have been lucky enough to encounter artists like Tiesto, Dash Berlin, Nervo, Anish Sood, Porter Robinson just to name a few.
At what point did you start to get interested in a career in music?
There was a point in my life where I thought nothing would work out. I had lost a sense of purpose and hope. The interest from medical work had vanished and something personal went down the drain after 5 years of effort, I was shattered. The only thing that gave me any direction in my life was either producing or listening to music. At this juncture, a dream began; I am lucky enough to see it slowly but steadily turning into reality.
What did your family think of this idea?
They didn’t like it very much to be honest. They, including most other people thought I had gone insane. After spending better part of 8 years becoming a postgraduate doctor, it was very difficult for me to make them understand why I had to do this. There were some tough times along the way but I am pleased I made the right decision. It must have been difficult but I am very thankful to my parents for supporting me and loving me the same even though they did not understand what it was that I was doing.
How did you set the wheels in motion?
The first track ‘Different Shades Of Same Color’ was an extended play and had been in production for 4 months. The extended time duration was primarily because I was working shifts as a doctor in the morning and producing music in the night. I approached many labels for the track but the track suffered primarily because of two reasons – the 1st one was unwillingness of labels to support a brand new artist and the 2nd one was a lack of proper studio equipment with me at that time. I had no money at that time to purchase one, so the track was made on a broken macbook pro, 6 years old and a pair of headphones, no studio monitors or anything else what so ever. Despite the apparent failure, I was determined to leave a mark and decided to start my own label. I contacted Label Worx in United Kingdom regarding distribution, I have to say they were and have been really helpful ever since. I made the company website in 2-3 days and set up all the social accounts. Then it was all about scouting music, and I do trust my ears.
The only connection with India that the western dance world had back in the day was via Talvin Singh OBE and the Goa trance parties which Paul Oakenfold would rave about, then eventually little clubs started to pop up and then in 2007 the Sunburn Festival changed things completely. What are your thoughts on how India has suddenly developed, alongside China, as one of the most exciting dance music territories on the planet. Why has it taken so long? Do Indian people ‘get’ the likes of EDM and Deep House…what does the future hold…
I think the future is bright with all the big festivals coming in and other stuff, you mentioned. All said and done, I however do feel that more work needs to be done developing the club scene at grassroots level especially in smaller cities around the country. There’s a still a lot of potential for dance music scene to grow in India, which it can, I believe, given it is the right platform to do so. The government needs to more helpful in trying to organize the events as event does raise employment and boost growth economically. Also, the club culture is almost non-existent in smaller cities. This is due to a lack of education and also due to a lack of awareness among public in these cities. Most people do associate dance or rock music with drugs, which actually is a really sad state of affairs.
99% of dance music parties around the world have some form of drug culture. What is the situation in India?
I think dance music scene is not drug driven in India; it’s more driven by alcohol. You would find more number of people looking for alcohol rather than weed or ganja in parties around India. But that’s not to say there are no people smoking pot at all! That would be incorrect also. And to say there are no people there for music alone, that would be incorrect too.
So let’s get stuck into Morior Invictus. A sterling independent electronic music record label started as a way to get your passion and love for this genre into public spotlight. What were the early hurdles you had to overcome?
There were different challenges, some on a personal level while others were more on a professional level. The biggest challenge on a personal level was managing two separate professions, working as a doctor in day and a music producer/ record label CEO in the night. It was hectic and really took a lot out of me. Single handedly working out mechanics of the industry, scouting music, talking to potential artists for signature, brief proofing legal contracts with my lawyers, handling artwork for the releases and video production on the side for YouTube, was very extensive and demanding, given I was practicing medicine and producing my own music as well at the same time. Also since my family wasn’t that interested with music initially, convincing them was another.
One of your main ethos’s is that you will support artists as long as they are unique. Tell us about some of the early artists you signed…
We have stayed very true to the main ethos’s you speak of, we have signed and introduced all fresh faces to the industry. The decision for us always comes down to music and music alone. Most of the artists we signed didn’t have a great social following, but we signed them because we believe in their music. It won’t make quick money, sure, then so be it. I started the label because of my love for music; making money has always been secondary.
I love this quote about your label : “Most of the labels currently only sign new music either if it can be played on the radio or if people can dance to it in the clubs. We have seen some great music rejected by record labels just because of this above approach. Fortunately for you, we are not most labels. We hate this approach as we believe this approach kills off any chance in an artist producing truly unique and original music.” Why don’t other people share your beliefs, it’s all about money for most right?
Yes, it definitely is. The bigger the name, higher the number of streams and hence the revenue generated is substantially greater. It also reduces the promotional effort on label’s part considerably. I wanted to give people a chance that they would normally never get. I want my label to be self sustainable and profitable like any other, but I do want for it to be seen as a symbol of something more.
Let’s zip to 2016. Tell us about the artist you are working with, who excites you and what records are coming out over the next few months?
We have been lately working with 1MAK from Switzerland, Pronger from Finland and Blake from USA (pictured below). Other artists are free to drop us demos as well. All three of them are totally unique and yet very different from each other. 1Mak has some really cool future house tracks lined up, while blake is more of a old school trance artist. On the other hand, Pronger is all about high rising and beat thumping tunes. You can expect releases from these artists in the near future. We are also in discussions with some other artists, but there’s nothing I can officially confirm right now.
What else have you got planned for your company in 2016?
We just signed a premier partner deal with soundcloud very recently. We are preparing to launch our official podcast in the near future, that’s one thing, which is definitely on the agenda. We wish to go live in the coming future also, but I think 2016 would be just too soon for that.
When was the last time you had a really good dance to a DJ?
I have been really busy, as you noticed. It’s been a while. I have been too busy making other people dance.
I know this is difficult…but please list your favourite Morior Invictus Top 10 ever…
Nope, my friend, that’s just not going to happen. Better luck, next time.
Ha ha. Fair play. Okay then, what is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I have been given lots of advice by a lot of different people. The thing is, that every one loves to give advice. Sometimes you ask for it, sometimes you don’t. I think I have been shaped by a combination of different advices rather than a single thing some one said at a particular moment in time. In that way I feel all the advice I have received has been equally important.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in your life so far?
I don’t know. I am 28, I am an ophthalmologist, music producer, DJ, record label owner & founder and an entrepreneur, and so I have definitely done something with my life. But I am neither done nor satisfied. I think my biggest achievements are yet to come.
Be honest with us know. A cheesy pop artist you love?
As I told you earlier, I listened to pop in the past. I heard Enrique, Ricky Martin, Black Eyed Peas, Timbaland etc during that period of time. But no, nothing right now, haven’t heard pop in a long long time.
And finally…you have a cheque book with an unlimited balance. What artist from around the world would you LOVE to sign to your label?
If I had a chequebook with unlimited balance, I would launch biggest dance music festival in the world and get all the dj’s to play there. Spending so much money just on a name isn’t smart business, I think. You got to think big to become big…
Check out the latest tracks from Morior Invictus right here: –
1. Pronger – Crazy Vibes (Original Mix)
2. Blake Bermuda – Away (Original Mix)
3. 1Mak – Northern Star (Original Mix)
4. Strelok – Montreal (Original Mix)