September 18 2014 Latest news:
Ajay Nair, Reporter
Saturday, August 16, 2014
A DJ who helped shape a music scene is preparing to perform at Europe’s biggest Asian music festival.
Sandeep Sharma, of Ilford, better known as the BBC Asian Network’s DJ Limelight, will be gracing the stage with his radio co-host Kan D Man at this year’s London Mela, Gunnersbury Park, Ealingon August 31.
The DJ-turned-music-producer, who plays hip hop, grime and R&B from artists of south Asian descent, will be getting crowds of 80,000 plus pumped at the music festival.
Limelight will be bringing the limelight to the “urban desi” sound at the event on August 31 after going from selling mixtapes featuring local artists to celebrating almost six years as a BBC radio host.
The Ilford DJ, who likes to eat at Gyms Kitchen, Gants Hill, said: “It’s good for the audience to see us perform. It’s like a rave in the mix tent where I DJ, playing sets is kind of second nature to me now – I know what people want to hear.
“The British Asian sound has become ‘urban desi music’ - it’s the core genre now. When I first started on radio, urban desi music wasn’t as popular as it is now, back then it was all about more traditional sounding bhangra music.”
BBC Asian Network’s Kan D Man and DJ Limelight show has fast become a primary outlet for many young urban Asian musicians trying to break into the music industry.
Mr Sharma added: “I don’t think I’d be in radio if I didn’t think promoting new talent was part of my job as a DJ – it’s exciting.”
Limelight’s BBC show was the first of its kind, with its foundations lying with unsigned artists who even took part in on-air rap battles on the Asian station.
The influential DJ has even managed to set up independent record label FreshWave Entertainment off the back of the show and has been honing his skills as a producer too.
The former London Metropolitan University English student said: “I’m at a place where I have even got my own record label set up and I know the business like the back of my hand now.”
Limelight sold more than 250,000 mixtape CDs during his early years as a DJ, bringing the likes of N-Dubz and Tinie Tempah together before they hit the big time.
The radio personality said: “I think being south Asian and being in this country and doing what I do - I look at it as a positive thing, it gives me a unique identity.”
The Asian Network show is not confined to those of south Asian heritage but has largely helped Asian rappers, singers and music producers - who are underrepresented in the UK’s urban music scene - get their music heard.
Mr Sharma added: “I definitely agree that we have helped foster a scene – there isn’t a better feeling than that.
“The show has a purpose and we have a lot of artists from Redbridge come through.”
The likes of Asian Grime producer Rude Kid, who was heavily featured on the show, went on to sign a record deal with Sony Records.
Limelight, who made his hobby of mixing music into a career wants to help other young people do the same.
He said: “I want to be someone that can sit down with young people and say to them that you can turn your hobby into a career because I was once doing it as a hobby myself.
“Myself and Kan D Man have become quite known among young people in Redbridge and we do get approached by people, and it’s a nice feeling that people respect what we do.”