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interview

Ajay Saggar

Bhajan Bhoy

Bhajan Bhoy is Ajay Saggar, a musical maverick who has spread his wings over many projects in the last 30 years (King Champion Sounds + Deutsche Ashram being his current projects), consistently releasing highly acclaimed albums and touring hard, but releases his first solo album, “Bless Bless”,  in 2020.

Ajay Saggar

Where are you based?

I live in The Netherlands, in a small town about 20 kms north of Amsterdam.

Where do you work? What do you do?

I work in Amsterdam at a music venue called Paradiso as a production manager. Paradiso (before the corona crisis hit!) was open all year round putting on between 1200 – 1500 shows per year (by shows I mean music concerts, club nights, lectures, etc etc). My role as a production manager is as a liaison between the Paradiso and the visiting artists to make sure that the shows are prepared for in advance, so come the day of the show, everyone within the organisation and the visiting performers know exactly what is going to happen / how the day will run.

What are you listening to?

I’m listening to Pharoah Sanders – live in Paris 1975, Richie Havens – Something Else Again, Windy & Carl – Allegiance & Conviction, The Johnson Spiritual Singers – Don’t Let The Devil Ride, Albert Ayler Quartet – The Hilversum Sessions, Party Dozen, Prana Crafter, Robbie Basho, Amaria Hamadahler, Chin-Chin, Tuluum Shimmering, Jordan De La Sierra, Horse Lords, Catherine Lamb, Pulled By Magnets, King Tubby + Clancy Eccles Allstars, Ellen Arkbro, etc etc.

How do you discover new music?

I discover new music by listening to BBC Radio Lancashire show “On The Wire” (an ESSENTIAL show that’s been running for 35 years with Steve Barker at the controls), WFMU, reading music blogs, bandcamp, reading the Wire magazine, and tips from my friends.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services? Why?

I pretty much only listen to vinyl at home. I have a huge vinyl collection and am a record collector. For me it’s been the only true format to listen to music to. Sound quality, artwork presentation and aesthetically its the final word on music. I do listen occasionally to CDs if the artist that I like has only brought a certain album out on that format. And I have started buying some cassettes of late, as again, some artists that I like have chosen to only bring out their music on that format.

Where do you do most of your music listening?

I listen to music pretty much all hours in my waking days. At home I listen to LPs, or have WFMU on. When I’m commuting I’m listening to WFMU or On The Wire. At work I listen to and discover new music (listening on headphones…..and invariably buy a lot of albums online to be delivered to my workplace). My stereo setup downstairs at home is a Project record player, Sony amplifier, and KEF speakers. Upstairs I have a Pioneer record player, Sony amp, and Bose speakers.

My vinyl upstairs is all in alphabetical order. My vinyl downstairs is divided roughly in genres.

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

I discover a lot of new music / pre-releases via the radio shows / stations “On The Wire” and WFMU. 

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

Benefits are when I am commuting and listening on my cans, when I am jogging and listening on my cans. Also when I have mixed a track in my studio for one of my music projects, I take the digital versions and listen to it on different speakers / headphones / environments to road test them. Other benefits are I can download alot of old bootlegs from The Fall that get posted pretty much daily.

Also when I buy vinyl from bandcamp, I always get a digital download and so that nice to start with to keep me going until the vinyl arrives. Plus I can upload my personal music to digital platforms like bandcamp, spotify etc etc.

No I do NOT notice the ads on Soundcloud. BUT I DO notice the bandcamp recommendations given at the foot of the page based on the music I am currently listening to on that particular page.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

My vinyl upstairs is all in alphabetical order. My vinyl downstairs is divided roughly in genres. 

Discover the #HowWeListen Playlist

Listen to the #HowWeListen 2021 Picks playlist. Curated by this year’s interviewees.

Listen on Spotify

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

I tip people all the time as I feel that great music should be spread to folks far and wide. I usually do this by sending friends mp3s I have attained through buying an album on bandcamp, or by putting up links to music on my different facebook pages. I also do a monthly night called Kosmos Klub, which before the crisis, was a night at De Groote Weiver (my local community center) where I played records for about 5-6 hours….just as a way to share great music with people. I have done this now digitally for the last 6-8 months as well and I upload the sessions on mixcloud under the Kosmos Klub name.

Anything you want to “promote”?

I just produced / mixed an album for Ivan The Tolerable (this is the band of Oli Heffernan who I play with in King Champion Sounds). He had Mike Watt do vocals on it. Oli’s made a fantastic album that will come out in August. My next album will come out under the name of UNIVERSITY CHALLENGED. It features myself, Oli Heffernan (Ivan The Tolerable), and Kohhei Matsuda (Bo Ningen). It’s a beautiful (drone) project and the album will be out in the autumn. Australian band PARTY DOZEN will have their debut album out soon. I love them. The band needs to hear them.

I have a huge vinyl collection and am a record collector. For me it's been the only true format to listen to music to.

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