With a career that has spanned over 15 years in the UK Asian music industry award winning DJ SonnyJi has been part of the UK Asian Underground music movement, played to clubbers from Poland to San Francisco as well as some of the biggest festivals on his home turf from Glastonbury to Bestival. His Ground breaking mix show ‘The Bhangra Mixtape’ which aired on the BBC Asian Network from 2007 has been revered by fans worldwide, set the bench mark on how eastern beats can be mixed into western rhythms and during it’s 5 years on air remained the most listened to show on the BBC iplayer feature.
It all started in the mid 90‘s, in his bedroom at the age of 15 when SonnyJi started to learn how to mix music taking in the sounds of UK Bhangra as well as the classic Bollywood music he would hear played from his parents stereo. But you can’t ignore mainstream music when you’re growing up in England and while he absorbed the music of his roots and culture his tastes grew in other areas covering such diverse ground as Daft Punk, The Prodigy, Michael Jackson, Prince, The Chemical Brothers and even Queen! Honing DJ’ing at family parties, day timer student events as well as small wedding functions his confidence grew with each performance as time went on.
In the year 2000, the turn of the century, SonnyJi wanted to venture out further in terms of his musical growth and visited the white isle of Ibiza for what would be the first of many visits. His ordeal by fire took in many dance music luminaries such as Carl Cox, Sasha and Eric Morillo: all of whom inspired him in the way they delivered their sets musically. This only served to reaffirm his future musical direction and on his return from Ibiza vinyl records in hand, SonnyJi was asked to come on board Birmingham’s innovative and award-winning club night ‘Shaanti’ as the resident DJ joining other performers at the venue at the time which included Hard Kaur, Bobby Friction, The Kray Twins along with other UK underground talent at the time.
November 2003 marked a watershed point at SonnyJi’s Shaanti residency as he’d developed his Dance music set’s further by mixing ethnic samples, sitar strings and Bhangra beats with the sounds of Tech House and Electronica. The regular’s to the night may have loved his House set’s of previous years, but this was something different: the sound of their own culture, seamlessly blended into a modern British context through the pulsating rhythms of House. A sound he continued to perform in clubs up and down the country which included London’s Ministry of Sound, Notting Hill Arts Club, East London’s Cargo and The Vibe Bar.
News of his ground breaking style of performance reached the BBC and in 2007 SonnyJi was asked to join as a presenter on the BBC Asian Network with his show ‘The Bhangra Mixtape’. This was a landmark in broadcasting as it was the first time ever that Bhangra music had been mixed with non Asian music on UK and World radio. The Bhangra Mixtape was a multi genre defying concoction of Bhangra and Desi Urban Beats all mixed into non asian sounds such as Drum n Bass, Hip Hop and Bass music finishing with House right near the end. SonnyJi’s cutting edge style of live on-air DJ’ing along with his highly energetic radio hosting brought in listeners not just from the South Asian diaspora but the world over.
His placement at the UK’s biggest Asian radio station cemented his reputation as a premier mix DJ and in 2013 SonnyJi won the ‘UK Best DJ’ award at the Brit Asia TV Music awards.
SonnyJi currently presents the ‘East Beatz West’ mixcast which goes out to a global audience and also heads the Wedding Entertainment roadshow SonnyJi Sounds which see’s him play across the UK and internationally.