When I first discovered the Curry Smugglers back in Fall 2010 through Twitter friends, I took it upon myself to listen to all of their episodes, starting from the most recent and going back to the very beginning. Given that the only desi music I know is the ’90s Bollywood music from my youth (and of course whatever Taz unearths for us here on SM), I was thrilled to find a show that features a variety of genres coupled with lively commentary from the show’s genial co-hosts and producers, Paresh and Sachin. Having been thoroughly educated a la Curry Smugglers, I’m happy to announce that the pair will air a special show on Sunday, May 22nd, featuring popular Bollywood playback singer Lucky Ali and Raghu Dixit, an independent artist from The Raghu Dixit Project. I caught up with Smuggler Paresh (featured below with guest Raghu on the right) to find out more about the gang’s latest shenanigans.
PG: Who/what’s a curry smuggler? Does this involve actual curry?
Paresh: First off, can I offer you a beverage? I’m coming up a with a curry-flavored shot, don’t crinkle your nose…
A Curry Smuggler is defined as a species of music lover in the genus of Dances Muches. By definition, this listener enjoys music that is mainly bootleg ‘Bollywood’ remixes paired with tracks from Brit Bhangra, Desi alternative pop/rock bands, Urban Asian artists and anything else that fits in the make-your-kundi-dance genre.
PG: So no actual curry distribution, but lots of music.
Paresh: Right, garam masala is not an aphrodisiac… We are two guys with a strong support team of family and friends behind us who want to show people across the Western Hemisphere and ultimately the world that there’s a ton of talent in India. We’re expanding our ‘genre pool’ every season but are very focused on the club/production/remix area of desi music because it holds common threads for desis worldwide.
PG: You’ve already done three “Chill” shows and the fourth, with Raghu Dixit and Lucky Ali releases May 22. What exactly is a “Chill” show?
Paresh: Vishal, my high school buddy who lives in Hong Kong, and I did Chill 1 on a whim post for New Years to just see what it would be like if we took our ‘Oh they play remixes and uhns-uhns-uhns-’ image and threw it out the window. It’s two high school buddies after a few beers recording a fairly uncensored show. What could go wrong?
PG: Were you able to get Lucky Ali to sing Kaho Naa Pyar Hai songs for us?
Paresh: No. Lucky Bhai is a man who looks forward. He understands his body of work has touch points for various segments of listeners, but as you’ll see, he treats his music as a serious hobby. He discusses ‘Bollywood music’ in a way I certainly didn’t expect. And I was too much of a fanboy to ask lest he hang up the phone on me.
PG: Five words that describe Raghu’s music.
Paresh: Earthy, humble, powerful, heartfelt, fun.
PG: You just came back from a visit to India. What did you hate/love?
Paresh: Hate? The interminable honking. I loved the opportunity to pig out to good food, the immediate accessibility to good music and the fact that even if I am an NRI since birth, I belonged. It was good to be away from the politically-correct environment the US sometimes forces on you. The fact that I was immersed in cricket was amazing. I bleed blue. Oh yes, and hot Indian ladkis.
PG: Currently, who are your top five favorite South Asian artists?
Paresh: It really changes every week. Personally, I’m currently repeating tracks by Raghu Dixit, DJ ASen, DJ Dev, DJ Lijo and a smattering of Raghav/Culture Shock. I’m not really into the ‘American’ version of Jay Sean simply because it’s not my style.
PG: Which Bollywood stars are you and Sachin most akin to?
Paresh: I would say Sachin would be .. the first Sachin. Man’s got a style of his own. I am a cross between Govinda’s dance moves, Salman’s nonchalance and my own devastatingly mediocre looks. Oh and maybe, just a little smatter of Sanjay Dutt’s warmth and open-ness.
PG: Will there be more fan-made videos this season that feature you dancing?
Paresh: The fan made video concept is on the table still. However, as is the Smugglers credo, we always come up with a little twist. But if the event calls for it then my booty will shake. Please don’t throw quarters. I will take singles/100s though.
PG: How many hours a week do you spend on the podcast?
Paresh: This is a second full time job with overtime and no health benefits. Between actual taping, editing, mastering, networking, song selection, track listing, distribution and promotion – you’re looking at a ‘sleep is optional’ lifestyle. If I had to guess – 30 hours a week for each of us. On a landmark show, it would be 40-50.
PG: Advice you’d give to someone who wants to podcast?
Paresh: Don’t do it because you think you’re going to change the world. Do it because it feeds a passion. If you do what you love then it’s not a job. Learn from the mistakes you make. When you listen to our shows backwards from 54 to 1 you’ll see how we’ve evolved. Every show we go back, re-listen and go, “Dammit, let’s fix that.”
PG: Dream celebrity interview?
Paresh: Sachin: Priyanka Chopra but he doesn’t just want to just do an interview [oh snap].Me: Right now, Amitabh Bachchan. No holds barred, uncensored, consequences be damned conversation.
PG: Who does all your amazing artwork? I love your logo and website graphics.
Paresh: Amritraj Gupta, a graphic designer who lives in Dubai and a close friend is absolutely fearless with his approach to stuff he does with us and for us. When we have special episodes or milestones, he whips something up in a few hours and shoots them over. It’s amazing how his mind works. He feeds our desi kitsch look. You can see some of his work here and here.