DJ Rekha (born Rekha Malhotra, 1971) is a London-born musician, DJ, producer, curator, and activist. She has been credited with pioneering Bhangra music in North America. Her first album, DJ Rekha Presents Basement Bhangra, released in October 2007 on Koch Records, fuses the Indian genre of bhangra music with international hip-hop and drum beats.
DJ Rekha spent the first year of her life in London, and the following three years in New Delhi, India. She credits this time in India as critical for exposure to Punjabi, the primary language of bhangra. She returned to London briefly until her family moved to Queens, New York. DJ Rekha spent most of her adolescence in Westbury, Long Island and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from Queens College with a degree in Urban Studies while simultaneously experimenting and honing her craft on the turntables.
DJ Rekha performs at a monthly event known as Basement Bhangra at SOB's on Varick Street. Since its launch in 1997, Basement Bhangra has popularized the traditional-modern bhangra blend, making the genre a part of the NYC club scene.
DJ Rekha has brought South Asian music to New York by spinning at events like P.S. 1's Warm Up Series, Central Park's Summerstage, Prospect Park’s Celebrate Brooklyn, Brooklyn Museum's First Saturdays, and the annual flagship Loving Day celebration held in New York City. She arranged the music for Bridge and Tunnel, the [Tony Award] winning Off-Broadway show. Newsweek recognized her as one of the most influential South Asians in the US, and she has received accolades from The New York Times, CNN, The Fader, The Village Voice, and The Washington Post, among others.
Her recent album, DJ Rekha Presents Basement Bhangra, is a 17 track mix CD with four exclusive tracks including two original productions from Rekha. DJ Rekha has collaborated with an array of artists including Wyclef Jean, Panjabi MC, and Bikram Singh to name a few. The album weaves Punjabi folk traditions, dance hall rhythms from the U.S., U.K. and Jamaica, and DJ techniques that are 100% New York.
In 2000, DJ Rekha founded Sangament (sangam is Hindi for "confluence" — a place where two rivers flow together), a production company that produces live concerts and provides music consulting services to record labels, cultural institutions, media companies, and corporations. DJ Rekha produces live events and her monthly parties, Basement Bhangra and Bollywood Disco through Sangament, Inc.
DJ Rekha founded Basement Bhangra in 1997 in New York. It occurs on the first Thursday of every month and has become an international phenomenon, drawing an extremely diverse audience. It starts with dance lessons and then turns into a dance party as the night goes on. It has become received international press, being featured on the cover of Billboard magazine and in Dutch and Japanese television.