As we continue with our 12th City of Bhangra Festival, we had a chance to get up close and personal with DJ Khanvict (Asad Khan) from Decibel Entertainment. Khanvict will be performing at our Bhangra Heavyweights Afterparty wrapup alongside DJ KSR.
Take a look at what DJ Khanvict shares about Decibel and his personal journey!
Interview with Asad (DJ Khanvict)
1) Some people may not know this, but you’ve completed your Engineering degree at UBC, what motivated you to pursue your passion for music?
I was brought up in a family that’s big on music, in particular my mother. So I grew up with an ear for a good beat. From classics by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to dance-floor anthems by Panjabi MC, I loved it all from a young age. I was doing my Engineering degree when I had the chance to pursue the craft of dj’ing as a side hobby/job. Once I started going to gigs I realized very soon that the kind of excitement and happiness I found in DJ’ing I would never find in a career as an Engineer. That was it. I knew then that I had to make a living doing something I loved. We spend over 50% of our waking life ‘at work’. I didn’t want to spend that big a part of my life doing something that didn’t make me happy right down to my core. I chose happiness. I chose music.
2) Since establishing Decibel Entertainment in 2013… how have these last 3 years been for you?
Amazing! What a journey! A lot of hard work, hundreds of sleepless nights, tired and sleep deprived mornings, but so much sheer joy and happiness watching our team grow and bond together as a family while winning awards and more importantly the hearts of those who we have played for. The people who have hired us have been so good to us, they have given us so much love and we have done our best to reciprocate that love by delivering quality performances every time we took the stage.
Setting up your own business is a lot of work. Once your brand is well established every one notices you, and gives you a lot of credit and respect, as well as their business. But at the beginning it is very tough. I started the company with just a laptop and a makeshift office at Starbucks, which required a lot of hard work when it came to convincing clients to go with us over some of the more established companies at the time. From there, Decibel grew fast, and it brought a lot of growing pains. Growing pains are good pains but they are pains nevertheless. I had to do aggressive hiring, aggressive talent acquisition, and still sustain the quality that I wanted Decibel to be synonymous for. That requires a lot of work and consistent effort on each front of the company. Sometimes I felt that it was way too much for us to handle but this is where a good team comes in because I didn’t do any of this alone. I’m blessed with a great team that has been by my side every step of the way. All the guys have picked up the slack anywhere possible and helped each other along the way. As a unit, we have grown and continue to grow.
3) How many DJs does Decibel currently have?
We now have 11 DJs, 3 interns who are learning the craft and getting hands on experience at gigs, and a 5 man lighting team.
4) As we know you are very tech savvy and your social media skills are amazing! We just have to ask, how do you do it all?? And where do you get the creativity for contesting (e.g. Lip Sync Battles, wedding contests, etc.)
I don’t have a marketing background or anything; I just put myself in the audience’s shoes and ask, “What kind of content makes me stop from scrolling down further, and stop to actually pay attention to the post”. Decibel’s outlook is really simple, clean and symmetric and we like our social media posts to be in line with that. I think less is more, simple white and black space attracts the eye more than a crowded, overly colourful post does.
A lot of credit should go to Vick, who we hired last year. Vick looks after our social media posts and also photo/video content throughout the event. He’s a very creative person and he has made my life a lot easier by taking a lot of the social media and marketing work off my table.
As for the contests, I think you give me too much credit! Again it’s a team effort, every year we meet and we make it a competition about who’s going to come up with our instagram contest for that year. We all brainstorm for a few weeks and at the next meeting everyone presents their respective ideas. From there we pick the best one! Whoever comes up with the winning idea gets a bit of cash!
5) Recently you posted a picture of yourself at your first gig Dj’ing for $30 a night 4-5 times a week, while being an undergrad student. Looking back at the earlier days, how does it feel to be where you are today with what you’ve established?
Those were tough days but I enjoyed every gig just as much as I do now, if not more. I didn’t even mind DJ’ing for free back then if I could get a gig, and if I wasn’t as busy as I am now I would still DJ for free if I had to. The toughest part about that time was that I had to give up a lot of social gatherings, which hasn’t changed now either. As a DJ you’re always working on weekends and that means you are never at the summer BBQs, pool parties, birthdays etc. On an individual level and as a company we have come a long way since our inception, and it feels good to look back. But I think it is important to look forward instead of looking back and admiring your growth. Looking back gives you a sense of accomplishment specially when you’ve done well. That can easily then become a cause of complacency, as you feel like you have achieved what you set out to. Instead, you must continue to press forward, and work hard as if you’re still the ‘underdog’. Only then can you ensure longevity at the top of any game.
6) Decibel Entertainment has many talented Dj’s working together, seems like one big family. How does everyone stay so well knit and how important is that for you as a team?
That is the key. United, we are a force to reckon with. Divided, we become vulnerable. The boys are a family. They look out for each other in every way possible. We have healthy competition amongst ourselves but we don’t look to put each other down. We share all of our music and resources so that all of us are just as capable of delivering the Decibel experience as any member on the team. We are also great friends, we hang out together, we party together, and some of us even play sports together. That culture is very important to our team and to ensure that we always remain close we communicate well. Each month we have a meeting, mandatory for every member to attend. In this meeting we discuss every gig that happened in the past month, we read each other’s positive testimonials out loud, proudly, so we can all take pride in each other’s success. And if there has been a mistake we discuss it as a team, so we can all learn from each other’s success. All of these little things go a long way towards knitting us together as one.
7) Whenever Decibel is brought up in a conversation, time and time again we hear people say “they cater to all ages, genders, and ethnicities.” How do you successfully accomplish this?
We have some incredibly talented DJs. I mean, combined, we have over 100 years of experience under one roof. And that means that the young guys can learn from those that have been around for a long time when they have to play for an older crowd. Similarly, the young guys can help the same experienced guys when it comes to playing at a party with a lot of younger people. It works really well together. We get to know our clients through as many complimentary consultations as it takes to ensure that we deliver exactly the kind of mix they are looking for. And we ask questions like the age and ethnic demographics of the guests so we know what kind of a vibe to prepare for the night. Good communication and preparation is key. We treat it like a professional job, and put emphasis on the details!
8) Currently we can see that Decibel promotes philanthropic organizations such as SAAV and you recently partnered with Veerhood. Why do you believe such community involvement is needed in society?
This city and community has given us everything we have. It is our duty to be good citizens of this wonderful place and give back in any way we can. We believe in the abundance of sharing and if we have the opportunity to help anyone we are happy to oblige.
9) The global #DecibelFever is taking over, you were recently dj’ing in 3 continents in the span of 1 month! Khanvict how do you do it?
I sleep well on planes! Haha The power of social media and platforms like SoundCloud is amazing. People hear our mixes in countries all around the world and we get inquiries from as far as Australia, Japan, Indonesia and even India! Some of our DJs have flown to some of these places including myself. And one of the most amazing feelings is when you see people playing your podcasts or DJ Dapper’s podcasts halfway across the world. It is a very rewarding feeling and that’s the fuel that keeps you going despite the heavy travel schedules and sleepless nights!
10) Why are you teaming up with VIBC this year?
I have a great relationship with some of the folks that are involved in VIBC and I want to meet those that I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet. We have a great following that loves Bhangra music and I think by connecting with VIBC we also serve as a bridge between those followers and the wonderful efforts of VIBC so they can come and enjoy the events that are being thrown together for their entertainment and for our wonderful culture!
11) With VIBC’s afterparty “Bhangra Heavyweights” many people are looking forward to DJ Khanvict, can you tell them a little bit of what to expect?
I’m Dj’ing with my good friend, DJ KSR that night. He’s one of the best in the game and some tell me I’m not too bad either so I think it should be a great night! Haha I want to urge everyone to come out in good numbers and have a great night with 100s of bhangra lovers around them! DJs thrive off the energy of the crowd so the harder you come the better we spin!
12) Where do you see yourself and Decibel in the next 3 years?
That’s the toughest question you’ve asked. I haven’t thought that far to be honest. On a personal level, I hope I’m still DJ’ing, traveling lots, but also taking some time off to attend some of those BBQs I’ve missed! As for Decibel, we have the best young DJs in the city who will continue to carry the torch forward. We are starting Decibel Institute where we will train and acquire the next batch of city’s top DJs so I think we are setting ourselves up nicely for a good few years. But I always tell the boys that we don’t control how things work out, we just have to give it our 100% and then let the chips fall as they may! But as long as we continue to love our music, innovate consistently, and deliver excellence in every performance, I’m khanfident we will do well.
Blog by Suman Lally
Photo courtesy DJ Khanvict