Ajay Rawtani, who goes by the deejay name Ajay Raw, will be heating things up at Big Fish Restaurant as he helps patrons to ring in 2017 this New Year’s Eve. Rawtani tells us more about himself and what patrons can expect from him on NYE.
Who is Ajay Rawtani?
I am someone who cannot be labelled. You might not see me coming, but when I do, I am a force to be reckoned with. I am a loyal, passionate, dedicated, patient, creative and kind person. While I am somewhat shy; I can adapt to different social settings and I’m also outgoing, but a homebody at the same time. Music is my heart; family is my soul.
Place of birth?
I was born in Pune, India, but I grew up in St. Maarten since I was six. I lived in the states for more than eight years and returned to St. Maarten in 2003. When someone asks, “Where you from?” I always answer, “I from here.”
I graduated from Stetson University in Deland, Florida. I majored in Computer Science with a minor in Business Management. My best friend, Ryan Gumbs, introduced me to computers early in my high school days. From then I knew that IT was something I wanted to do as a career.
How did you end up as a deejay?
Deejaying stemmed from the first time I ever walked into a nightclub. Back then, it was Studio 7. There was something about the sound, lighting and people letting themselves go dancing the night away that mesmerized me. The DJ was at the centre of it all. He took everyone on a journey for that night; without him, there was no party. Seemed like a pretty cool gig to me.
What sets you apart from other deejays?
I guess what sets most DJs apart is the music they choose to play. I personally do not care for pop music; I don't like to play it. I love being surprised by a chunky track that I have never heard before that just makes me move. Too often you go to a club and hear the same songs night after night after night. This is not me.
What is it about deejaying that you like?
Deejaying and my music release you from the stresses of everyday life; it’s exhilarating. I like that feeling that you get when you have the floor gyrating to your grooves or when someone comes up to you and says, “Dude, you rocked my night!”
How do you think you contribute to a better society as a deejay?
People go out to listen to music for different reasons. But when they enjoy the music, it moves them and takes them to a happy place. Getting people to a happy place – be it just by the bar or going crazy on the dance floor – as long as it moves you; I think it contributes to a better society.
What are some of the challenges you encounter?
The biggest challenge is club owners or managers, who sometimes want to dictate what you do or what you play. This gets in the way of creativity.
Who are your all-time favourite artistes?
Sasha and Digweed, Paul Oakenfold, Erick Morillo and Chus and Ceballos.
What do you like best about your job?
What I like about it is that this isn't a job for me. I can’t imagine doing this more than once a month. The late nights take a toll on you in many ways. My job is IT and management – deejaying is just my fun.
What can Big Fish patrons expect from your New Year’s Eve performance?
I just recently started having dinner at Big Fish and the owners and chef are great, and I love the venue itself. It’s got this Bagatelle (St. Barths and NY) feel to it and that super club vibe that is just screaming for a party. So I'm planning to bring it. The music will be that deep, chocolaty, funky, tribal house that will progress as the night does. I’ll be on from 9:00 to 2:00am.
Why should people choose your NYE performance over others’?
For me, NYE has always been about a fabulous big night doing something different than what I do the rest of the year. Why would you want to ring in the New Year at the same place you end up every weekend? This is why I am looking forward to Big Fish. Change!
If you could meet any deejay in the world, who would you want to meet and why?
I think it would be Erick Morillo. This guy puts on a hell of a show when he deejays and you can't help but rock out to his tribal funky grooves. He keeps the dance floor packed.
What message do you have for youngsters who want to follow in your footsteps?
Study; get a degree, get job, then have fun deejaying. Deejaying can be very positive, but there are negatives like drugs and alcohol all around the scene. You need to be level-headed and not lose yourself in this industry. Be strong and just say no.
What else are you involved in?
Besides my IT career, I am on the esteemed boards of St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Social Economic Council SER. Both boards are active in shaping and advising on legislation put forth by government. St Maarten is in an economic slump and both organisations are now more important than ever and I do hope that government taps into these resources. The experience and expertise of the respective board members are very valuable.
Do you have any (other) special talents?
I am a major foodie. I love my mouth. I have been inspired by my mother, my aunt and many other tremendous chefs over the years to cook myself. I would like to think I can bang out some great meals. I have a thing for photography too.
Wine or beer?
Definitely wine. I love a good Bordeaux or Margaux. These days I love whites – Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, New Zealand Savignon Blacs.
Dream holiday venue?
London is one of my favourite cities, but anywhere in Europe really. I love the history, culture and the food.
Most drivers on St. Maarten roads, especially the ones who drive 10 miles per hour or those who rubber neck and slow traffic when there’s an accident.
Never marry someone you can live with; marry someone you can never live without.
If you could ask any three persons (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be and what would you serve them?
Ajeet Nandwani, Vicky Chugani and Bob Marley – all taken from us way before their time. We would start with oysters and champagne, salmon carpaccio, then a juicy medium rare rib-eye steak with truffle mashed potatoes and a blue cheese and arugula salad then end with a grand marnier soufflé.