Friday, June 4, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with friskyRadio founder Faisal Sultan (AKA chiefFrisky)

Many of you must have noticed your favourite Indian DJs campaigning all over the internet about a very special show (12+ hour show, to be exact) on a very special online radio station. The show is "friskyRadio Loves India" and the station is, well, friskyRadio. For those of you who are not aware of what friskyRadio is, I'll put it simply, it's the most forward thinking, premier online radio station for EDM listeners around the world. Frisky is no longer just an online radio station, it's fast becoming an institution; with a global network of the finest DJs consistently providing mixes and a record label which consistently puts out way ahead of the bandwagon tunes, followed and picked up by a massive contingent of fans known as friskyFreaks.

If you're a bit clued in with dance music in India, you've probably heard about this on Twitter and on various forums... For the month of June, Frisky have tied up with Arjun Vagale and Submerge, to showcase talent from all across India. Highlights from this epic 12 hour show include; Arjun Vagale from Jalebee Cartel, Turnmills icon Anil Chawla, The SF Show's Praveen Achary, Sunburn stars Dheeraj Sareen, DJ Inferno, Rithesh, SQ Projekt's Shubs and many more. One look at that line up and you know you're spanning through every single genre dance music has to offer guided by India's brightest and rising talents. The show starts 7:30PM (IST), June 5th, Saturday.  I can tell you, it's going to be tough going out partying this Saturday, I'd recommend setting up a house party, hooking up friskyRadio and having a listen to what will be a monumental moment in internet history - DJs filtered through a population of two billion, showing you what they do best.

Was lucky enough to catch up with the man behind Frisky to tell us a little bit about his radio station.  A very very cool guy who has got something legendary going on for him. Enjoy the interview homies. - SG

In an exclusive interview with YHIHF, Faisal Sultan, Founder of Frisky otherwise known as chiefFrisky, discusses Frisky's history, the mantra behind the brand, why he picked India to showcase, where the future lies in audio media and his favourite Indian dish.

In Pic: Faisal Sultan, chiefFrisky 

Who are the people behind Frisky Radio?  What's the team's background in dance culture? Where's the Frisky HQ?
We have people in the friskyCrew scattered across the world. We have crew members in Japan, Los Angeles, New York, London and Germany.  As we merely exist online, we don't have a physical HQ.  We sort of exist in the Matrix, if you will.

Frisky - how did you come up with the infectious brand name?
Long story short - it was my nickname whilst in college. My handle in the early days of the Internet was 'frisky.' Then I started DJing house parties and my DJ name was 'frisky.' friskyRadio just seemed like the logical next step.
Tell us about Frisky Radio's history - from what I remember you started in 2005, well that's when I heard my first Frisky set.  
Actually we've been around since 2001. friskyRadio started off pretty much as an accident really. I never envisioned anything, nor did I have this secret plan for World Domination. It started off as a way to share some of my DJ sets with the world when I was working as a streaming media server engineer / geek in San Francisco. Pretty soon I started getting submissions from bedroom DJs from around the world. So there you have it. Pretty soon, "friskyRadio" was unleashed onto the world not by a huge splash but really a whimper...

It wasn't until 2004 that I actually started taking it seriously and doubling down on exclusive content and programming. Until a few years ago, it was also run pretty much by myself - but as they say, one Faisal can not scale. friskyRadio is what it is today due to the dedication and love of it's crew and more importantly, it's amazing and loving friskyFreaks (ie our fans.)

What kind of music does Frisky Radio showcase and what sets it apart from the plethora of online radio stations currently available?
Whilst it's difficult to categorize the music into one specific genre, we do tend to play progressive house, house and occasionally progressive breaks and even trance. Basically our rule is: "If it moves us, we play it."  What has set friskyRadio apart from all the rest is our almost-obsessive eye on quality over quantity.  We dont accept shows left and right like some other radio stations do. We have the luxury to chose who we want to work with and that ends up being good for the consumer. The user knows that when they tune into friskyRadio 99.99% of the time they will hear something that will blow their minds. At least that's our goal.

Can you talk about numbers?  What's Frisky's listenership like?  Who are your listeners and where are they from?
We get listeners from over 120 countries. Our users have spent a cumulative 1.8 million hours tuned into friskyRadio (TTSL). We had over 4.4 million people tuning into our stream in May 2010. We are rated #1 in the progressive house genre for all online radio, according to comScore.

Which of the DJs currently have the Frisky 'favourites' shows, and why do you think they're so popular on the station?
friskyRadio listeners are very picky and are very sophisticated. They don't tend to go after the so-called 'big names,' necessarily. Basically, if a DJ is playing amazing forward-thinking music, they tend to resonate to it.

For the readers who aren't too tech-savvy, what's the step by step process to listen to shows on Frisky radio? Is there an archive where one can download the shows for more comfortable listening?
Go to and click the 'TUNE IN' button. The music should start playing in your iTunes, Winamp, or Windows Media player.  Additionally, friskyRadio is also availble on products like NOKIA mobiles, various iPhone apps and directories on the web.

An official friskyRadio iPhone app is in the works and should be out by July 2010 so you can take the frisky beats with you to the gym or where ever.

Additionally, since friskyRadio is a 100% member-supported radio station, you can sign up and become a member and download any show ever played on friskyRadio here:

Frisky Loves India - tell us about this initiative?  Why India and not say another Asian country like China (not a very good example, due to the censorship laws, but you know what I mean)?
In the 'friskyRadio Loves…' shows we pick a region, place, city or country in the world and showcase some of it's top and upcoming DJs and artists. That way we get a flavour of the region's unique underground sound and get a glimpse into their culture like no other. To date, we have done over 20 of these shows showcasing countries like Argentina, Poland, Finland, Japan, Lebanon, Egypt, Sweden, Germany, France etc.

Why India?  Why not?  India has an exploding dance music scene. Its DJs are up and coming into the world stage. I hope with our showcase, we can feature Indian DJs to the world and help them get gigs worldwide... That's why frisky is here: to promote DJs and the music. There are lot more regions that we can get to, I'm sure we will be visiting China soon.

Give us a little preview of the Indian DJs you have lined up on Frisky Loves India - you've heard the sets, clue in the You Heard It First readers on why we should be listening to them.
It's gonna be a blast - a few surprises here and there... I'm glad that we got to showcase such a wide variety of talent in this 12+ hour show!

Tell us about the FriskyRecords label? What kind of sound do you guys push?
friskyRecords label had been a long-standing goal of mine... It was the next logical step to push the frisky brand further. It's headed by my good friend and business partner Ira Heinichen in Los Angeles. 

With friskyRecords, we try to push genre boundries and not try to stick to only progressive house.  Our sound is unique and it's all because of Ira's uncanny ability to not only notice trends, but be two steps ahead of them.

Who's doing the tweeting? That man/woman is a genius. Frisky is a perfect example of how the internet is really changing the way we are exposed to media... Do you feel there is any future in Satellite radio? FM radio?
Hah! Not sure about genius. More like a 14-year old juvenile. It's me that's going on blabbing on the feed. Satellite Radio died in 2004. FM wont be much further along, although it will take more time for FM to die down as broadband gains more momentum across the world. As I've been saying since at least 2002 - the future is in streaming media. It's only now that it's actually happening.

People aren't going to record shops anymore, they're going to Beatport and Juno.  People aren't buying hard copies of CDs, they're downloading illegally or purchasing from ITunes. What's the Frisky point of view on all this.  It's a bit sad isn't it? 
The trick is not to fight it, but embrace the fact that this will only increase. You cannot stop people from stealing or sharing illegally if they are so inclined.  If you give users an easier way to pay for music, they will. It's just a matter of giving users what they want - NOW.  To that end, we're working on a brand new website that will really be cutting edge and make it easier for users to find the music they love.

DJs from around the world are doing mixes for you, can you tell us about the less obvious countries which you feel are brimming with talent but still not getting enough exposure.
We get DJ submissions from far off and unlikely places like Iran and Malaysia all the time. Some great music coming out of there.

You wouldn't want the competition, but can you tell us the process and work that goes behind setting up an online radio station?  What's Frisky's word of advice on building a massive and loyal listenership?
It takes patience. Audience is not something you get overnight, or over the course of a few months. Internet radio is not something you get into if you don't have patience.  It also takes a LOT of time and effort. friskyRadio is a labor of love for myself and the team that works for it. None of us get paid or make any decent money out of it. All of us have regular full time boring jobs - friskyRadio is still very much a "hobby project."

A lot of food related Frisky tweets concerning India, what's Frisky's favourite Indian dish?
Food is our life! Chicken Tikka Masala!

The Frisky team are stuck on a deserted island with a life supply of batteries and a boom box, but NO Frisky Radio (gasp)! List out 6 life changing must-have albums you’d like to have with you?
Hmm... Good question.
  1. Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
  2. Sasha & Digweed - Nothern Exposure
  3. Massive Attack - Protection
  4. Back to Mine - Tricky
  5. New Order - Republic
  6. U2 - Actung Baby

Faisal was kind enough was to put together 5 Frisky Goody Bags (we'll spill on one item, there's a frisky tee shirt in there) for YHIHF readers. This is up for people around the world, NOT JUST India, everyone should partake for sure! Gonna put down the rules here - follow them and the goody bag could be yours.
  • Join the Frisky Facebook Fan Page and 'Follow' Frisky on Twitter
  • 'Follow' You Heard It Here First with your Google, Twitter or Facebook accounts, left hand side of this blog - the box under my fish, labeled 'yhihf homies.'
  • Listen to a couple of the sets on the 'Frisky Loves India' show on June 5th and email me at, with your favourite set and why.  Also, go through the Frisky website and tell me how much it costs to subscribe to Frisky every month
  • Make sure to label the subject of your email with FRISKY/YHIHF COMPETITION, or I'll just delete it.
  • You will receive a confirmation mail from me if you're a winner 
  • Winners will be announced on YHIHF (Date: TBA)
Fuzail: Favourite set being that of Nawed's, he set things up really well and his ability to play the right tune at the right time, the vocals kicking in  takes you away. $10 being the subscription fee per month for Frisky.

Prmod Bafna: It was such a brilliant show that its hard to arrive at one great set. But if I could sum it up, it had to be NawedKhan's set that really pulled me up and got me listening. The track picks, the gorgeous flow just made it epic right from the start to all the way! Oh, and the frisky subscription is 10$/month Bring on the goodies!!

Andras Doczi: It is a tough job to decide which set was my favorite on the "friskyRadio Loves India" show. I should pick one of the following:
Sanjay Dutta, because he just played the perfect music for relaxing at the patio and enjoying the sunshine.
DJ Inferno & Ritesh, that music was clearly awesome! chiefFrisky had right, it was hard to leave home on Saturday evening while friskyRadio was rocking the air with the "friskyRadio Loves India" show. But the set of these guys just gave me a proper preparation for the night!
I think I will give my vote for Sanjay Dutta, he gave me my first buzz of this summer, and I always remember these for long years. Sunshine, friends, beers in the hands, speakers spreading the joy of the summer from India, thank him for that. And of course, thank you for not keeping the Frisky Goody Bags in secret and give to your friends but offering us a competition. :P

Sunil Kai: Just loved the whole 12 hr show from all the artists, My fav sets are Shubs, Hamza and Dheeraj Sareen. For any show to be a big hit the opening act has to be rock solid, and IMO Shubs delivered the perfect start right from the opening track till the end of the set it was perfect. IMHO the best set of the evening was from Hamza, and thanks to his set have discovered a new sounds, really liked the track selection.To top the evening off Sareen finished of fantastically, great track selections. I so hope every artist put their set up and we can listen to their sets again. A big big thumbs up for Shubs, Submerge and all the artist's who made this possible and showing the world we Indian's know about Dance Music as well. Hoping for may more evenings like these! Btw forgot, i think its $10 for the months subscription.

Azhar Meer: Arjun Vagale, Anil Chawla, Nawed, Praveen Achary, Pawas, Arnold and Dheeraj Sareen all played great sets during the 12 hour friskyRadio Loves India show. But i think Hamza's set stands out and calls for special appreciation. His set laid the foundation for proper afterhours music going into the final 6 hours of the show, showcasing a great blend of deep, brooding house with a hint of tribal. There was a prominent influence of world music, or as most Indian listeners would identify it - a desi influence, throughout his set. The fact that he managed to pull if off makes the set my favourite considering he was playing as part of a friskyRadio Loves 'India' show. What makes his set all the more impressive is the fact that Hamza's own productions and remixes made up a large part of the set. His set was definitely my personal favourite, although Pawas, Arnold and Praveen definitely came close. And... it only costs $10 to subsribe to friskyRadio every month ;)

Thanks for participating in the YHIHF/Frisky contest - more than anything else, thanks for supporting the diverse set of extremely talented Indian DJs on Frisky Radio. - SG

All the details on the 'Frisky Loves India' show: Click here
Check out the Frisky website: Click here
Join the Frisky Facebook fan page: Click here
Follow Frisky on Twitter: Click here


  1. Thanks for this post,great interview with Faisal Sultan, founder of frisky Radio. Very interesting post.

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