DJ Rekha – Basement Ace

image from Honolulu Weekly

image from Honolulu Weekly

For the last 12 years, Basement Bhangra, the monthly dance-party at S.O.B’s, has enjoyed a reputation as one of the most exciting, beloved, ethnically and musically diverse events in New York City nightlife.  At the center of it all is the renowned DJ Rekha, who fuels the enthusiastic Basement crowd with a mixture of bhangra (Punjabi folk music originating from India and Pakistan), hip-hop, dance hall rhythms from Jamaica and the U.K., live MC’s and dhol players, plus video mixing. Long before mainstream rap started sampling Indian tunes, or reality show contestants bopped onstage to “Jai Ho”, DJ Rekha spearheaded South Asian music’s introduction to the NY club scene, establishing herself as a dance music innovator.

I first met Rekha around 7 years ago, after I went to Basement for the first time and wanted to profile the event for Studio 360. I remember being nervous about waking up a DJ before noon to do a radio interview, but she was gracious and laid-back about it all. She described how Basement Bhangra started, and talked about her desire to change the pre-conceptions about her community and its culture through the power of music. You can listen to that piece from the 360 archive RIGHT HERE. There’s also a great package about Rekha that CNN did a little while back:

After a whirlwind summer of festival touring (Tulsa, Lake Tahoe, Madison, Chicago, Cleveland, etc), Rekha was back in New York last week. Since her whole career started “the hard way”, with learning to DJ on turntables, we chatted with her about how lap-top technology has changed the art of rocking the decks. You can hear what she told us right here:

Over the years, DJ Rekha’s star has continued to rise and she stays busy. She launched a second monthly party called Bollywood Disco through her production company, Sangament; she produced a satellite radio show to broadcast her sets to a global audience; and she arranged the music for Bridge and Tunnel, the Obie-Award winning Off-Broadway show. She was an NYU Asian/Pacific/American Artist in Residence and she lectures at the Clive Davis School of Recorded Music. I’m also proud to mention that Rekha and I were co-associate producers for the radio documentary, Feet In Two Worlds: Immigrants in a Global City, back in 2005. Last year, she released her first record, DJ Rekha Presents Basement Bhangra, which featured collaborations with Wyclef Jean, Panjabi MC, and Bikram Singh among others. That’s available on iTunes and you should go download it now, if you don’t have it.

We’re honored that DJ Rekha will be joining us to close out the MMiX Festival on October 11th. So go ahead and bust out those Slumdog moves – we know you’ve been itching to try them out. 🙂


MMiX FESTIVAL – Schedule of Events

The MMiX FESTIVAL of Interactive Music Technology
October 8-11, 2009 at Theaterlab
137 W 14th Street, New York City
(212) 929-2545

Tickets: $20 / $15 students & seniors
Available online at:


6:00-7:45 PM Thursday through Saturday
Free and open to the public in Studio C

Interactive sound installations by
Chronotronic Wonder Transducer
led by sound inventor Steven Litt

8:00 PM – Performance
Bora Yoon +
Luke DuBois +
Todd Reynolds +

6:30 PM – Free Event
Ableton LIVE 8
Demo/workshop by DubSpot NYC
led by Chris Petti
8:00 PM – Performance
Dan Trueman and his Mini Laptop Orchestra
Jon Margulies / Hobotech
Joshua Fried / Radio Wonderland

6:30 PM – Free Event
– Ableton & Cycling ‘74 present: MAX for LIVE
with Todd Reynolds & Luke DuBois
8:00 PM – Performance
Patrick Grant Group
Kathleen Supove / Exploding Piano
Elliott Sharp / Janene Higgins

6:30 PM – Performance
Chronotronic Wonder Transducer
Ben Neill & Bill Jones
DJ Rekha / Basement Bangra

PLUS product giveaways of Ableton LIVE 8 and Cycling ’74’s MAX 5

* * * * * * *

The MMiX Festival of Interactive Music Technology is produced by Theaterlab, radio producer Jocelyn Gonzales, and curated by composer/performer Patrick Grant.

All events take place in the studios of Theaterlab which is located at 137 West 14th St., between 6th and 7th Ave., New York City. For more information (ticket info, directions, etc.) visit Theaterlab’s web site at

Software and laptop improvements present new possibilities for composer/performers to create complex soundscapes in real-time during live performance. The focus of the festival is to demonstrate that these emerging audio technologies are instrumental in new artistic creations, and to inform the public regarding the current state of this art form. The artists presented in MMiX have set a new bar in that discourse and will provide live performances, media installations and workshops.

Ableton, creators of LIVE 8 and Cycling ’74, creators of Max/MSP/Jitter are primary sponsors of the festival with additional support by DubSpot NYC and Eventide.

Media sponsorship for the festival is generously provided by WNYC 93.9 FM and 820 AM, New York City listener supported radio.