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We catch up with one of Ultra Abu Dhabi’s main headliners KSHMR ahead of the festival in Abu Dhabi on March 5 and 6.

Niles Hollowell-Dhar AKA EDM DJ KSHMR is one of the biggest names in the scene with millions of social media fans. He’s also got some serious awards to his name, including being ranked as the 15th best DJ in the world by DJ Mag.

Ahead of his show at Ultra Abu Dhabi, we caught up with the American DJ with Indian family roots to talk the state of dance music, how he deals with nerves and his Mum and Dad coming to watch his shows…

KSHMR interview

There are a few back-to-back sessions on the Ultra UAE bill who would you love to go back to back with?

I’d love to go back-to-back with Dillon Francis, I think he’s such a fun DJ and good friend.

And what’s it like standing up there on stage in front of thousands playing your own music? And how do you overcome nerves if you get any?

It’s pretty surreal, honestly, my eyes blur out and I get in my own zone and don’t really consider the reality and the intensity of so many people staring at me. I don’t get nerves too much anymore except when I play the live version of the show when I have dancers and musicians depending on me. I get nervous because I don’t want to let them down.

What does a KSHMR set sound like? And how do they differ from festival to festival and gig to gig?

It’s very prepared because I have a storyline in my show that needs to happen at specific points in the set. The ending has to correlate with the end of my set time. A KSHMR show is a bit of storytelling and a lot of KSHMR music with influence from world sounds and Indian sounds. 

America got the EDM/dance music bug in a big way in the last decade – what’s the next trend for the country do you think?

I still listen to old outdated music so I’m not sure what trends are going to happen or even what trends are happening now. I understand people are liking slower poppier music, house music, and techno. 

DJ Mag polls and his parents

You’re a virtual ever-present in the DJ Mag Top 100 poll. What do accolades like that mean to you? And how much campaigning do you/did you do for it? 

I never liked campaigning for the polls, but the truth is they do influence the shows that you get and the shows you get influence where you’re able to go and the fans you are able to reach. For the first time last year, I did ask people to go out and vote. I am appreciative to have received so many votes and to be able to continue to go out to these places and meet these fans that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. 

What do your parents think of your career, have they come to watch you? 

Yea, my dad actually just came to the last show in Los Angeles. My mom has been to many shows. They are very happy about my career now that it is successful. It used to be a point of contention because I was very stubborn and sure that my path in music would work out. They tried to caution me about the likelihood of it failing and implored me to have a backup plan. I was very steadfast in my music career which they came to understand and respect.

Check out the rest of the ace line up here.

And grab one of the last remaining tickets from here.

We’ll see you front and centre for what will no doubt be the best dance music festival this year!

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