TFword in Conversation With Nishant Mittal

The ‘Digging In India’ bossman had a chat with us about the launch of his new record store in Delhi, his penchant for collecting vinyl, the vinyl culture in India, and his plans for going forward.

During the years between the 1960s and 1980s, over 700 movies were released in India across the country’s diverse film industry. These movies featured hugely iconic songs and albums that were pressed on vinyl until the format was relegated into oblivion for nearly four decades.

Thanks to a number of initiatives that have rekindled India’s love for vinyl, the joy of acquiring a vinyl record is back in full force, and Delhi-based Nishant Mittal, widely known as Digging In India, is at the forefront of this movement. Known for digging and collecting the rarest gems from an insanely vast variety of genres, styles, and musical eras, Nishant has firmly consolidated his name as one of the country’s most recognized vinyl enthusiasts.

Nishant’s passion for bringing forgotten classics across Indian and world music to the people is often channeled through his DJ sets, where he blends genres like rare groove, funk, and disco, afro-jazz, electro, and many others that make his shows an unforgettable sonic experience.

Going a step further into his passionate endeavors to elevate India’s vinyl culture on an international scale, Nishant Mittal has now opened a record shop that is named after his Digging In India moniker. The record store has brought together vinyl collections that Nishant has amassed over the past 8-9 years.

Nishant Mittal’s aim is to promote vinyl culture, make vinyl more accessible and less intimidating for newcomers, and provide an open space for all through his record shop; this is being done by showcasing records that span from Desi disco, Tamil funk, Bengali baul sangeet, qawwali, ghazal, Hindustani classical, Carnatic, Telugu soundtracks, Marathi Koli Geet and lots more.

Besides stocking hidden musical gems, the record store will also feature uncommon records like spoken word, political speeches, poetry and comic offerings, alongside vintage posters, comics, collectible matchboxes, and stamps.

“One of my end goals with my project Digging In India was to always open a physical space. In my experience, buying records in person has a charm of its own. If I’ve bought a record in person I always remember where I picked it from and the story behind it or what made me buy that record,” he said.

Inspired by Nishant’s initiative, we caught up with him for a chat about the opening of his record store, his love for vinyl, India’s growing vinyl culture, and how he intends to take Digging In India forward in 2024.

Big congratulations on the opening of your record store. How long was it in the works?
Nishant Mittal: Thank you very much! One of the end goals with my project “Digging In India” was to have a physical space, I’ve been dreaming of having a record store since the last half a decade, so it’s truly a blessing to have it finally!

Talk us through your personal journey with music and your experience collecting vinyl over the years.
Nishant Mittal: I didn’t really grow up listening to a lot of music, as my parents weren’t really music lovers. I remember discovering rock music through my elder brother around the age of 13 – that’s the first time I truly found out that I really love music! I was so huge on NIRVANA and Radiohead, haha! Eventually, I started listening to other genres like jazz, soul, hip hop, world music. I started collecting records at the age of 19, and I’ve been collecting ever since!

There is such a diverse range of genres on offer at the vinyl store. How was the sonic progression like as you kept delving deeper into the sounds?
Nishant Mittal: I wouldn’t say there was ever a progression as such. I’ll be really honest – music is music, and all music is great. I realised this very early on, so I was always collecting any and every kind of music I think it helped me approach and appreciate sounds much better. Also, as a record store you need to make sure to have variety in your offerings.

We’ve also been big admirers of your penchant for collectible matchboxes, stamps and other artifacts; and we see it as an incredibly cool extension to the store. Tell us more about it.
Nishant Mittal: I just love collecting stuff! The designs and typography on vintage Indian records made me appreciate the Indian aesthetic so much. There’s beauty in everything, especially in the vintage stuff. 

Statistically, we have seen an incredible growth of the vinyl culture across the globe. What are your expectations from it going forward?
Nishant Mittal: I hope it keeps growing. People listen to music more seriously on physical formats. It’s the act of buying a piece of music in a physical format that makes it even more special. 

What are your thoughts on the vinyl culture in India?
Nishant Mittal: It’s getting bigger and bigger by the day. When I started collecting, none of my friends had a turntable, and now almost all of them do – so that’s a sort of a small survey that I’ve seen myself and it seems to be the case with many others. It’s cool, people who can enjoy it are enjoying it!

What are your plans for 2024?
Nishant Mittal: To do great work, discover more sounds, grow my business, take care of my mental health & pet more dogs.

If you are in Delhi and plan to visit Nishant Mittal’s store, Digging In India is located at 141A/2 1st Floor, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi.

You can also follow Digging In India’s work and stay updated via their Instagram page.

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