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An Iraqi DJ’s radio project to boost Delhi’s independent music scene

EntertainmentAn Iraqi DJ’s radio project to boost Delhi’s independent music scene

DJ MoCity co-founded South Asia’s first and India’s only online community radio, Born in Baghdad, Iraq, Mohammed Abood, a.k.a. MoCity, moved to Delhi as a teenager. Known for his multicultural heritage, MoCity has been a part of successful and pioneering crews, such as the band Reggae Rajahs in India and the DJ collective called The 264 Cru in Dubai. He is also the man behind the award-winning podcast Motellacast.

Growing up, DJ MoCity developed an interest in hip-hop. And it was at a very young age that he decided to pursue music professionally. At the age of 14, he was already performing at graduation parties and after-prom nights for his schoolmates. By the time he finished high school, he was DJing professionally.

He said, “I was holding down a weekly hip-hop residency back then. In the next few years, I threw some of the biggest hip-hop parties in the capital, including the iconic South Delhi Block Party, which ran for 12 editions and introduced an entire generation of the capital city’s youth to the various elements of hip-hop culture.”

The 32-year-old DJ has done some groundbreaking work in the field of music. A stellar example of that is the band Reggae Rajahs, which he started in 2009, along with Zorawar Shukla and Raghav Dang. It is considered India’s first reggae outfit. “We started Reggae Rajahs to share our love of the music and culture of the Caribbean,” DJ MoCity said.

The band has played all over India, as well as at international venues across Europe, South America and Southeast Asia. They are also the driving force behind India’s biggest reggae festival, Goa Sunsplash, which has gained global renown.

As Reggae Rajahs was gaining recognition and success, things changed for DJ MoCity in 2013, when his Indian visa expired, causing him to move back to Iraq. He said of that time, “I had to leave the country due to visa issues and after a turbulent time in Iraq during the end of the insurgency, I moved to Dubai.”

This was where he co-founded The 264 Cru DJ collective. His widely-loved podcast Motellacast was also launched during this time.

In 2016, he returned to Delhi for what he calls his “most ambitious project to date”:, South Asia’s first online community radio.

It’s a platform aimed at supporting lesser-known independent musicians across the region. Talking about the vision behind this radio project, he said, “My co-founder Sahej Bakshi and I started with the vision of giving under-represented and under-promoted music talent in the country a platform, and introducing Indian listeners to fresh and forward-thinking music from around the country and the globe.”

The Indian music scene, according to DJ MoCity, desperately needed such a platform. “Indian radio does not support independent music at all with its conservative and mainstream programming. There is incredible talent in all corners of the country that is not getting any visibility. We want to build a healthy infrastructure to support these artists and help them get their music out there, so that they can focus on making it instead of figuring out how to promote it,” he said.

The online station also has its subsidiary record label, called Recordings, which is pushing independent music in the Indian market.

When asked about the genres of music he enjoys experimenting with as RJ, he said, “At the radio station we try to keep things genre-less and give the listener a bridge to cross over genres through these well-researched shows that can blend up to 4-5 different styles of music from similar backgrounds, but still keep it super cohesive and enjoyable in different environments.”

As someone well versed with the various independent music scenes across Asia and the Middle East, DJ MoCity believes that the independent circuit in India is thriving. This becomes evident by the popularity of one of their indie-focused shows, Boxout Wednesdays, whose popularity has grown over the two years of its existence.

“We threw parties to mark both years of with a fully homegrown lineup, something most promoters don’t take a risk with when it comes to festivals and major events, and saw a massive turnout. The open-mindedness and loyalty of the crowd to come week in and out, always willing to experience something new and fresh, has been extremely encouraging, ” he said.

As a music entrepreneur going from strength to strength, DJ MoCity now intends to further expand his ventures and court a bigger audience.

He said, “Change will come later. But for now we are laying the foundation for it. More than just regular programming for traditional radio, we feel that we have the responsibility of educating listeners and acquaint them with so many sounds that have not been previously heard.”

It is his mission to create in this region an audience base that supports and enjoys independent music.

DJ MoCity may have accomplished much, but he has bigger dreams to fulfill yet. For him, this is merely the beginning of a long journey.

When asked about his future plans in the context of Indian independent music, he said, “We would like to have school and college kids tuning in to the radio, and for it to play a part in helping them discover a world of music that is different from the mainstream music they are currently exposed to. We’re also working hard to ensure reflects a diversity of sounds, with new shows being added frequently. We are looking to expand our event series to new cities and festivals. And to have a storefront in New Delhi that can double up as a hub for our community to visit, and also act as a practice space for upcoming DJs and producers in the city.”


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