Just when you think N.Y.C.’s nightlife scene can’t get any hotter, in steps DJ Kalkutta – and the rest of the night is history.
by Stephanie Collazo
Photography by Gavin Thomas
Styling by Dai Burger
Hair by Betsy Garcia
Makeup by Tanima Mannan and Kyla Astrid
DJ Kalkutta, affectionately referred to as Bollywood Barbie, is a New York-based DJ who is not only known for blasting beats on the club scene but making strides in the fashion circuit. Having performed in every high profile nightclub venue in N.Y.C., Kalkutta is no stranger to the limelight. She has provided music for numerous designers and brands including Diesel, Adidas Originals and Betsey Johnson, who she most recently was found spinning beats for and sipping champagne with on Fashion’s Night Out.
YRB: What is the origin of your name?
Kalkutta: Kolkata, [India] is not only where I was born but also where I lived in an orphanage for the first several months of [my] life. It is homage to my family still there and to my mother who adopted me here in the States. I spell it like the Hindi spelling and the British spelling combined.
YRB: How did you get into deejaying?
Kalkutta: I went to school for audio engineering and production. It was short-lived; [I’m] clearly not one for the scheduling of school. But I wanted to be a producer and [I was] producing these beats and putting them on MySpace and thinking, “How come I’m not getting phone calls from Jay-Z? I’m on MySpace.” So my then boyfriend, now long in the past ex – single ready to mingle – suggested that I start deejaying because operating DJ equipment is like a walk in the park compared to production stuff. So I got into it and now it’s my primary thing that I do.
YRB: Do you think it’s harder to get into the deejaying business as a female?
Kalkutta: It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s easier for you to get people’s attention and there are more opportunities, but it is harder to get credibility. I find that I’m often overlooked for club jobs and jobs that demand vast musical knowledge and skill. I tend to get jobs where they just need someone to look cute and play records.
YRB: How would you describe your DJ style?
Kalkutta: Definitely [an] extremely open format. I like to surprise people by mixing in fun throwback records in addition to whatever is new. I definitely play more for women because I realize that everyone goes to clubs for what? Women. To see women dance. If the girls aren’t having fun, no one is going to have fun. Why do men spend money on bottles? So they can get a bunch of pretty girls to pay attention to them, and go home with them if they’re lucky. So I try to play for girls, but I will also play Wu Tang [and] Beastie Boys, stuff guys can have a lot of fun with, too.
YRB: How do you come up with your perfect playlist?
Kalkutta: I like to use music that is eclectic, a mix of old favorites and whatever is new and hot and then stuff people have never heard. Even though the invention of the Internet made people think that they know every song ever and they know the best, it’s actually a DJ’s job to bring new music to the ears of the people and put them onto some new things. Before everyone was a DJ that’s what the job of the DJ was, to break all the hot records.