31 Years On The Turntables For Bollywood, World and Pop Pioneer DJ Ritu!
East London born DJ Ritu began her career as a Pop music DJ in 1986. She was head-hunted by new global beats club ASIA in Islington, which propelled her into the World Music scene. Working alongside African expert David McAlmont (later McAlmont & Butler) and Rai & Latin aficionado Don Tyler, she quickly fell in love with music by The Bhundu Boys, Chaba Fadela, and Sierra Maestra. Gaining in reputation as a ‘bhangra expert’ she began touring abroad in 1991, often the first DJ to introduce Indian sounds in many countries, while guesting at legendary global music clubs in the UK such as The Mambo Inn.
In 1994, she co-founded Outcaste Records, and signed Nitin Sawhney and Badmarsh (& Shri). She instigated Club Outcaste which was frequented by Bjork, Goldie, & Talvin Singh, and compiled the label’s first two Asian Underground CDs. Also resident at the UK’s first ever weekly bhangra, R&B, and drum & bass night, Bombay Jungle, she became a bedrock of London’s club scene.
After performing at WOMEX ’94 & ’95, Ritu was commissioned to create her first band, The Asian Equation. Sister India - Ritu’s 2nd band- was born out of this, but with a stronger female focus, gaining a cult following worldwide. These bands were DJ-centred with Ritu mixing and blending cool Asian Underground vibes with trip-hop, drum & bass, & techno, adding on improvisational contributions from her dancers, vocalists, & musicians. Through solo DJ bookings and intense band activity, Ritu has toured in over 30 countries, from Istanbul to Cape Town, Cairo to Latvia, and performed at major venues and events such as the Royal Festival Hall, Hyde Park, Big Chill, Sfinks, and WOMAD festivals. Her interest in music from all continents continued to grow as she played alongside artists like Salif Keita, Khaled, & Buena Vista Social Club, but she was stereotyped as a ‘bhangra expert’.
In 2006, the late Charlie Gillett resigned from BBC London due to ill-health and Ritu became his successor. She re-launched the world music slot with a particular focus on the UK’s capital and its diverse communities, inspired by living and working as a youth-centre manager in the multi-cultural environment of the London Borough of Haringey. Ritu set out to champion local artists, but also stole interviews with the crème de la crème of international stars like Tarkan, Angelique Kidjo, A.R. Rahman, Mariza, & Omara Portuondo. ‘A World In London’ now boasts an ever-increasing and larger audience than ever before. Ritu’s unique Asian music show for BBC 3 Counties Radio ran for an amazing 21 years and was syndicated in Germany and Turkey. A World In London celebrates its TENTH year and is now based at Resonance FM & SOAS Radio, University of London and is available on-line at Itunes, Mixcloud, and DAB. http://resonancefm.com/ and A World In London by SOAS Radio/DJ Ritu on iTunes
Ritu has broadcast for BBC World Service, Radio 3, and Kiss 100. She is one of few UK representatives for the European World Music Charts. She also writes and compiles albums for The Rough Guides. She created the 'Bhangra Legends' concept and title by staging the ground-breaking Alaap/Heera concert at The Barbican, 2007.
As a long-time club promoter, Ritu continues to set new trends through her regular London club nights - Kuch Kuch (16yrs), Kali (21 yrs), and Hoppa (7 yrs) - which collectively reflect her expertise in North African, Middle-Eastern, Mediterranean, and Bollywood flavours. Meanwhile, she continues to specialise also in 60s to present day pop, disco, soul, & Motown! She hosts and comperes numerous events at Rich Mix, The Southbank Centre, for London International Arts Festival, A World In London LIVE, and more!