“For me, it’s about moving the dancefloor, physically and emotionally,” Suchi Ahuja explains over the phone. Anyone who has witnessed a set from the Manchester-based DJ and producer (who performs under her first name, written in all caps) will know exactly what she means. SUCHI – whose family is of Indian origin – was born in Oslo, and spent a year or so of her adolescence in India before living in London for a decade as an adult. The result is an evocative sound that blends cultures with a pulsing, freeing fluidity: breaks, bass, Bollywood disco, beautiful Qawwali and Norwegian Sámi Joik samples, contemporary leftfield Indian producers, and Björk all find a home in her ever-evolving output.
“I don’t want to call it ‘fusion’,” she says. “But there’s definitely a whole mix of cultural influences in my sound.” As a kid in Norway, SUCHI was always interested in a wide array of music, playing piano, singing in the choir, watching her friends’ bands and soaking up the Scandi scene (she references electronic artists like Röyksopp, Lindstrøm, Todd Terje in the same breath as bands like the indie-folk duo Kings of Convenience). It was when she moved to London and started going out there that she got drawn to house, techno and breakbeats; this would meld with her roots in Scandinavian and Indian music. Soon, she started a show on Hoxton FM, learning how to DJ as a means of showcasing this wide array of music she loved.
Shortly after, on holiday in Delhi, SUCHI was checking out the now-defunct venue BandStand, which was renowned for showcasing some of the country’s most exciting emerging musicians. It was here she would bump into DJ MoCity, who was about to launch India’s first online, community radio station: Boxout.fm. And so, SUCHI sent him a mix, and landed a spot as one of Boxout’s residents.
And then, as she puts it: “Daytimers happened.” The UK-based collective that showcases South Asian creativity first emerged at the end of 2020, and it was via her friend, the producer Works of Intent (who works as her mix engineer), that SUCHI was convinced to enter the fold. It was through Daytimers that DJ Yung Singh’s now infamous Boiler Room took place in the summer of 2021, and SUCHI’s sweltering set there swelled with melody, energy and euphoria. She explains that she likes “moments of unexpectedness” in a DJ set: “The best sets I've experienced have been the ones that have made me feel so much in the span of a couple of hours,” she says, “And that's why I try to focus on the idea of contrasting energies and genres with moments of tension and release.”
While she is mindful that the ‘South Asian’ labelling can be reductive and unhelpful, SUCHI is grateful for the collective power that something like Daytimers has allowed for. “We all knew there were South Asian producers, artists and DJs out there, but we had never had a platform to connect all of us,” she explains, “So that was really important, that Daytimers could bring people together and showcase the talent. Once it became an umbrella, that’s when people started to take notice. It’s a community, a support system for us to help each other out, give each other opportunities; whether that’s gigs, exhibition space, or mentoring, feeding back on tracks and mixes.”
Alongside all this, she’s been growing as a need-to-know producer – something she started toying with back in 2019, and delved into in earnest during the Covid-19 lockdowns. “I’m still figuring out what I’m trying to do with my music,” she laughs, “I’m so influenced by so much music that I can’t define myself by a genre. I don’t even think about it when I’m making music.”
With releases out on Coastal Haze and Future Bounce, it’s clear that this breadth of sound is working in her favour. In both her sets and her own music, SUCHI will get you moving and feeling all at once.
SUCHI describes her Fresh Kicks mix as a “deep, percussive, bassy and hypnotic selection with touches of euphoria. It spans techno, breaks, trance, percussive and progressive house with a couple of fun club edits thrown in there for good measure. A mix of old, new and unreleased music with a couple of South Asian producers included.”