• Monday, May 27, 2024

Arts and Culture

When medicine met music in lockdown

Kishan Bodalia.

By: Priya Mulji

DJ Bodalia explains why he started #NHSessions

THERE have been many inspiring stories throughout the pandemic that have offered glimmers of hope, and one of the most unique revolves around a DJing doctor.

Kishan Bodalia gained a following after launching #NHSessions, which saw him perform DJ sets from his kitchen on social media after his hospital shifts to keep up the spirits of those in lockdown.

This led him to DJ at high-profile events that included The Hundred cricket tournament and at major music festivals. In November, he is supporting Fatboy Slim on tour and has just signed a record deal. With more marvellous opportunities on the way, it looks like the hard-working doctor from Coventry will be balancing contrasting careers for a while.

Eastern Eye caught up with DJ Bodalia to discuss his interesting journey, combining music with medicine and future plans.

What first connected you to DJing?

Music has always been my greatest passion. As a child, I grew up playing the saxophone, piano and clarinet. During my later teenage years, I spent time listening to dance music
and going to clubs with my friends. This is what inspired me to become a DJ.

What inspired your popular DJ sets during lockdown?

When the Covid-19 pandemic first began, I was working as a doctor on a respiratory ward. With my work being incredibly physically and emotionally challenging, and living on my own, I needed something more positive to focus on.

Music has always been my go-to. I decided to do DJ sets in my scrubs in my kitchen and call
it #NHSessions, not only to make myself feel good but to also lift the spirits of my NHS colleagues and those stuck at home in lockdown. Overnight the reaction was amazing. Celebrities were sharing my videos and it was reaching millions of viewers. I did not expect this response.

How much did DJing and music help you while working in the Covid wards as a doctor?

After every shift, I would go home and immediately turn my decks on. It gave me something
exciting to look forward to after work, and I loved the fact that others at home would be waiting for me to post a video. On most days of the week, I would also do livestream collaborations with other influencers, including with personal trainers who would lead a workout while I would perform a DJ set.

What was it like to DJ at The Hundred cricket tournament?

Performing at stadiums to tens of thousands has always been my dream. The Hundred was an
amazing event full of world-class cricket and entertainment. Being part of an event with some of the biggest names in music, including Jax Jones, Becky Hill and Lady Leshurr, was very special. The games were broadcast across BBC Sport and Sky Sports, which meant that my tunes were heard by millions at home too.

How are you balancing being so much in demand as a DJ with your work as a doctor?

I try to keep my life as balanced as possible, finding time for all the things I love – medicine, music, exercising and spending time with friends and family. Recently I changed the structure of how I work – so now, I work longer days in A&E, giving me more days off in between to focus on my music. This means I can really maximise the time doing that activity, whether it be doctor or DJ-related work, on a given day. I always aim to be as productive
as possible.

Kishan Bodalia in his job as an NHS doctor.

What has been the most memorable encounter you have had as a DJ?

It’s impossible for me to pick just one memorable encounter as a DJ. I’m grateful to have been able to DJ at some of the biggest festivals in the world (including Tomorrowland), on BBC Radio 1 and on national television as well. Recently when I was at a festival, Fatboy Slim was performing and he waved to me in the crowd. At first, I didn’t believe that it was me he recognised and was waving at, but later on when I met him, he told me it was. That
was memorable.

How much are you looking forward to supporting Fatboy Slim on tour?

I still can’t believe that I’ll be appearing as a special guest during his UK tour. I am very excited. I’ll be in Brighton on November 11 and Birmingham on November 13, and will be bringing the best high energy and uplifting tunes, guaranteed to get you dancing. Being on the same bill as Fat Boy Slim must be a lot of pressure.

How will you handle it?

I’m usually quite good at keeping my cool under pressure – this is probably a skill I’ve learnt while working as a doctor in A&E. When I go on stage, I feel the biggest sense of euphoria – there are rarely nerves.

What else do you have planned on the musical front?

I’ve just signed a deal with a record label and can’t wait to announce this. Over the last few weeks, I have supported Example and Rudimental and appeared on mainstage festivals. I have new music releases scheduled over the coming months, more mega club gigs and television appearances, it is such an exciting time for me.

Who would you love to collaborate with?

As a dance artist, I’m always looking for vocalists to feature on my music. Kelli-Leigh is somebody whose incredible voice has been heard on many dance hits – maybe you’ll hear something special from us soon. I’d also love to collaborate with David Guetta, Diplo and Jax Jones.

What kind of music dominates your personal playlist?

My personal playlist has the biggest possible spread of genres. I’m into everything from pop to hip hop, acoustic covers, and massive dance anthems.

According to you, what is the secret of a great DJ set?

Playing to the crowd is key – you should give them what they want while staying true to your sound as an artist. Also, being the first person to show them an amazing new tune always goes down well.

What does music mean to you?

The fact that music can make you feel any emotion shows how powerful it can be. It’s a very important part of who I am.

Finally, why should we come to the Fat Boy Slim tour?

It’s been such a long time since we’ve been able to go to gigs. Now that events are running again, why wouldn’t you want to watch your favourite DJ and doctor supporting the biggest DJ legend on the planet? It will be a tour to remember.

Visit Instagram: @bodaliadj for more.

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