Aug 19, 2022
6 min read
It’s easy to become fond of music as an art form when you’ve been surrounded by it your entire life. Culture plays a significant role in someone’s creative pursuits, and that notion speaks volumes for Brooklyn-based producer and DJ AKKI.
Born in Malaysia to Indian parents, she moved to Australia at a young age. She emigrated to Singapore as a teenager before making her grand move across the Pacific to attend Columbia University in New York City. Surrounded by such a radiant array of cultures her entire life, she was bound to become an affluent creative one day.
For AKKI, a collection of small moments and realizations led her to exactly where she is now. Her devotion to house music might have been something that unfolded slowly over time, but now, it’s become a soul-stirring passion that she can’t even begin to imagine living without.
She was first introduced to the scene in Singapore, coincidentally when there was a tremendous burst in its club and nightlife ambiance. At the time, the opening of Singapore’s Ministry Of Sound attracted a plethora of European and American DJs to perform, and attending these events was what initially exposed her to all things house music.
Without realizing it, sound production and design were always her forte. It was the driving force of everything in her life. It was her calling all along.
In college, she managed all of her Latin dance team’s music and sound editing. She was always the one to bring her friends together for concert and club nights. And ever the curator, exposed them to unfamiliar artists and distinct genres. She always found herself writing song lyrics and practicing her self-written vocals in her free time. Eventually, she began to play around with producing music in Garageband and finally decided to experiment with DJing.
She grew fond of both art forms, and she was especially excited about the idea of being able to merge her vocal expertise into her own music and mixes. Her adoration for electronic music had become boundless.
“I love production and I love creating music. But if I can’t connect with people and I don’t have that opportunity to really move people on the dancefloor, then I’d be at a loss. It’s just one of the best parts of working in this industry. Being able to connect with people whether its friends, new followers or other artists is all just so beautiful.”
Everything transformed for AKKI when her instilling life in New York City began. She plunged into a new world of opportunity, cultural beliefs, and creative endeavors. Her “Aha” moment ignited while passing the renowned Webster Hall in Downtown Manhattan with a close friend.
“It was actually an accumulation of little moments that led to that big moment where I realized this was something I wanted to pursue full-time. A few years ago, I was walking by Webster Hall with a friend while I was still in college and thought to myself, ‘Wow I’d love to DJ at a club like this one day!’ and he replied, ‘well, why don’t you?’ And that’s what did it for me. One thing just led to another and here I am today. Life is crazy man.”
Not only was she exposed to a side of the underground scene she had never witnessed before, but the city’s liberal culture revamped her outlook on life and redesigned her artistic vision. The Big Apple inspired her to intertwine her love for house music with her political positions and philosophies to make her voice heard, something many artists are too afraid to do.
Aside from being a phenomenal producer, vocalist, and performer, AKKI is a tremendous female empowerment and women’s rights advocate. Her dedication to this movement emerged from involvement with the women’s Barnard College at Columbia. That experience made her unafraid to stand for something that had always affected her as a woman of color. It empowered her to utilize her creativity in a unique manner and as a way to speak up for what she strongly believes in. And that’s exactly what her most recent projects illustrate.
A few years ago, she began her Midnight Snack mix series, a project created to connect female trans and non-binary artists from all over the world. She then became involved with 23 by 23, a nonprofit organization with a goal for labels to increase their percentage of female producers to 23% or more by the end of 2023.
Enamored by 23 by 23’s forward-looking concept, she submitted her hypnotic re-work of J.Worra’s “You” and ended up winning the remix contest along with two other fantastic female producers. The track was released just in time for PRIDE month in early June on Club Sweat records. After this rewarding experience, she aspires to continue to collaborate with other like-minded artists like J.Worra and LP Giobbi, among others.
At first, there was very little conversation regarding where women stood in the music industry. But today, that’s a different story, thanks to artists like AKKI.
Her presence in the NYC underground scene continues to flourish, and her progressive artistic vision is one bound to resonate with house music aficionados to last a lifetime.
She’s performed at exemplary venues and festivals like elrow, Elsewhere, The Brooklyn Mirage, Quantum Brooklyn, Brooklyn Steel with Chris Lake, Elements Music & Arts Festival, and more.
For AKKI, sticking to a singular house genre is a nonexistent concept. Her extraordinary soundscapes encompass a stunning blend of deep, acid, tech, and piano house notes that continuously leave listeners begging for more. Her foreign cultural influences are evident in every release.
“I want the soul of my music to be groovy and for people to really be able to move to it," she explains. "But I love surprising people with distinct elements and twists and turns during my sets. It’s kind of like a rom-com meets a psychological thriller but in music terms. That’s the vibe I’m going for.”