music
Harping On

Harneet Bhullar gets the lowdown on DJ Harpz, the UK’s freshest talent behind the decks

Posted: 12.08.14

You’re a broadcast journalist, presenter and a DJ – you sound like a busy bee, how do you fit it all in?
There’s a saying ‘you just got to do what you got to do’ and I am doing exactly what I want to do. So if it means having to keep a balance – so be it. I personally believe if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.

Have you always wanted to become a DJ?
Erm, yes and no. Music plays a huge part in my life but I don’t think I ever thought of being an actual DJ when I was younger, however I definitely dreamt of one day having my own radio show. DJing just came with time and experience really. Once I got my foot in the door with some voluntary radio work I knew I wanted to pursue it, it also meant my love for music grew and grew. At university I was surrounded by some of Leeds top DJ’s and they’re now really good friends of mine. By watching them I picked things up. I used to hear them in gigs and think ‘Wow, I wish I could do that’ and eventually that led to investing in my own decks.

Where does the name ‘DJ HARPZ’ come from?
It’s quite a boring answer actually. I think it came from the day when I first got some radio work experience. I was asked to come up with a DJ name so I could practice and record some shows in the studio. And I remember sitting there completely blank thinking what on earth shall I call myself. So as you can tell I wasn’t very creative at the time and ended up keeping it very simple. Stating the obvious hey! But once I got my own shows I couldn’t be bothered to change it. And then as time went on people would always refer to me as ‘DJ Harpz’.

You currently have your own show on two different radio stations, how do the two differ from each other?
I’ve been on a community station called Fever FM based in Leeds for about six years now. I host my own weekly Bhangra show. It’s done phenomenally well over the past few years. My main target audience at Fever is obviously the Asian community. So I play all sorts of Bhangra, the old, the gold, the latest, the greatest. You name it, I (hopefully) always have it!

But the station I’ve just recently joined which is also based in Leeds goes by the name of All Star FM. It’s completely different to my weekly show on Fever. This is more of an Urban vibe and it’s not based or focused on just one community, it’s for a mixed crowd, in particular the youngsters of my generation who enjoy the fusion between Asian beats and R’n’B, sometimes even a bit of Hip Hop. The fact it’s a station filled with some of Leed’s biggest and well-known DJ’s is a pretty big deal for me.

You have interviewed many celebrities; did you ever expect to have had such opportunities at such a young age?
I don’t know about young age, I’m getting old! But thanks for the compliment. And the answer to your question is, no. Absolutely not! I never even imagined to get this far. I think if it wasn’t for my show on Fever and the fact I’ve continued to stay there for so long because of how much I enjoy it, I wouldn’t really be where I am now. I slowly began to think of ways on how to change my show from everybody else’s. I wanted to do something new and bring something different to the station, so I decided to try and build up a PR network and literally just contacted everyone and anyone I could. Gradually the interviews started to come in and eventually that led to more and more work. But I never in a million years thought it would lead to people like Jazzy B, Diljit Dosanjh, Garry Sandhu and many more.

I definitely believe that hard work pays off and especially in my case, I’ve been grafting for a very long time now and sometimes wish the opportunities I get now, I got earlier. But I guess everything happens for a reason and I feel truly blessed to have the opportunities I’ve had.

Are there any celebrities that you are still waiting and wanting to interview?
You know I get really confused when people ask me this, because how do you top people like Jazzy B or Diljit Dosanjh? I’ve kind of set the bar really high for myself! However if we’re talking absolutely anyone and not just the Asian scene then I have a very very long list. I’d love to interview Beyonce and ask her why she’s so perfect! I want to interview the Queen and ask her why she thinks she’s so special - I mean the list goes on, I could be here forever. 

How does it feel to be one of the very few Asian female DJ’s?
It feels weird if am very honest I don’t know why other Asian females who want to become DJs or dream of being one, don’t come forward. It bugs me. Because we live in a world now where men and women are supposed to be seen and treated equally. I think the problem is Asian females find it harder because we’re Asian. It’s difficult to get out there with confidence and tell people ‘I’m a DJ’. And it’s usually because we come from a background where we are constantly worrying about what other people think or what other people will say. Such as ‘Why are you not a doctor?’ or ‘Guys are supposed to DJs’ – why is that the case? I feel proud and I hope I can inspire other women to make them feel it’s OK to do it!

Is there anyone who you have looked up to?
It’s a tough one because I think it’s more important to look up to someone who has helped you get to where you are now. For example I could say someone like David Guetta is someone I look up to. But technically he won’t have got me to my success. He plays a part in my inspiration and taste of music but for me it’s got to be my fellow DJ friends. I’ve learnt everything through them. So I definitely have to say that I look up to them.

You have created your own channel called ‘DJ Harps TV’ on YouTube that is gaining many hits. Can you tell us more about this and what made you start this?
DJ Harpz TV is a project I’ve wanted to do for a while. I’ve just wanted to kind of do something on my own and call it my own. There’s not really much more to it. I realised I’ve built a lot of good relationships with a lot of my contacts within the industry now and thought why not do something about it in my spare time? So I literally just decided to go out and film whatever I can based on somebody maybe I like, enjoy listening to or whatever. I’ve only worked on two episodes as of yet, currently planning the third which will drop soon. But I’m open to ideas all the time – so if anyone has a story they may wish for me to cover, let me know.

What was it like to have had your mix recently played on BBC Radio 1 along with all the positive feedback and hype you gained on twitter?
SURREAL. It still does feel that way. Being on BBC Radio 1 & 1Xtra has been a dream of mine since I was a child. I never thought it would happen and never actually took it seriously. But believe it or not about a month ago I got approached by Nihal himself, asking if I would like to come on and create a mix for his show. I didn’t even think twice and literally got down to business as soon as. And the day it got played on air along with my interview was the most amazing feeling I have ever had. I didn’t sleep all night. I was so emotional and I have to say it’s got to be my biggest achievement till date.

And to top it off, the amount of love I received from people I don’t even know via Facebook and Twitter is so overwhelming. Too much positive feedback scares me sometimes but I’m trying to enjoy it whilst I can. I appreciate every single person who took their time out to hear the mix live as well as downloading the free copy which is now on my Soundcloud.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Hopefully in Nihal’s chair, haha. I don’t know really, nobody can predict his or her future but I would like and hope to see myself having my own show on a mainstream station. Or one of the worlds best Asian female DJ’s rocking every party in the world maybe? I dream big but why not? Let’s see what else life has in store for me!

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