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Vivaek Jena
Photo taken by Abby Shen
Interviewed in August 2023

MORE ON Vivaek:
Vivaek is a proud Indian Australian born in Sydney, Australia. He currently works as an Environmental Grad for a large infrastructure company specialising in road maintenance in Western Sydney, and is heavily involved in the sustainability aspect of the company. 

Alongside his day job, Vivaek also founded and runs The Caldera, which brings unique music to Sydney through their show at Bondi Radio and through a wide range of events spanning from warehouse parties, clubs, raves and bars. As a DJ, Vivaek  specialises in the various forms of techno and psytrance and has played at festivals such as Burning Seed. He has also played at various clubs in Sydney, such as, The Flinders, Oxford Underground, Kings Cross Hotel, Cult Nightclub and Potts Point Hotel.
Could you tell me more about what piqued your interest in becoming a DJ and how you came onto the scene as a professional DJ?
Honestly, I always had an affinity towards music. I had been playing the pakhawaj (Indian drums) since I was around 5 years old. My friend asked me one time after my year long trip in Europe, whether I would like to learn to mix. I suppose it was a slippery slope from then on. Following the frustration of not getting enough gigs and not entirely resonating with the current scene in Sydney, I embarked on a journey to create a musical atmosphere around myself that I resonated with. From there, Caldera was born. Along the way, we have gained a lot of support: running a very successful show on Bondi Radio and bringing my friend, Saija (who I have an identical musical taste to) on board to help me run Caldera.
What draws you into psytrance and techno music in particular?
My love for techno began in Berlin (I know I know such a cliché). My love for psytrance began through my friendship with one of my best friends. She then ended up taking my friends and I to a few doofs. It stayed with me ever since.
What is Sydney’s underground music scene like and how do you think it is evolving?
Evolving is a funny word to use here. I would say it's surviving. There are a lot of individual efforts going on to help underground music thrive within Sydney. The way I see it, people who are dedicated to the music they like, will be able to find a scene that they resonate with. It's just a question of going and finding it (and potentially creating it yourself). The underground scene in Sydney is difficult to traverse as you really have to go and find what you are looking for. There are many brands out there doing incredible things. To anyone reading this, I would recommend going to events, supporting DJs and producers and getting involved with music you love and believe in.
Why did you start the Caldera, and what kind of community do you hope to attract and create?
I began it as a safe space for my friends to enjoy music we all vibed with on large sound systems. From there it gravitated towards running renegade parties and fostering a space for like minded people to come and have an exceptional night. Connection is at the forefront of why we do what we do at Caldera. We try to hybridise the Caldera parties between a rave, a doof and a houseparty.
What is your favourite aspect of hosting music events through The Caldera?
Honestly, looking out across a crowd and seeing people lost in the moment or the music and knowing that I helped create a moment of bliss for them.
on culture and identity
What has your relationship with your Asian Australian identity been like, and how has it evolved?
Quite extensive. Despite being born and raised in Sydney, my first language was Bengali (mainly because of the determination of my mum for me to learn it as I would pick up English quickly once I would begin at school). Following Bengali and English, I learnt Hindi at the age of 6 or 7.

In addition to all of this, I began playing the pakhawaj at the age of 5 or 6. The pakhawaj is a classical indian drum. This rhythm based experience from a young age helped shape my journey towards rhythmic music such as psytrance.

I also practice an Indian classical dance called Odissi (which has been taught through my fathers side for many decades) and is based of off of temple dancers in ancient India performing as a dedication to the gods.
What is a significant cultural memory of yours?
My grandmother teaching me how to read and write in Bengali. I have many memories of me being curled up in her lap and learning.
What is your favourite food from your culture?
Honestly, it's a draw between my dad’s onion pakoras and my aunt’s lamb curry.
Who is an Asian Australian that inspires you, and why?
To be honest, most of my family. They have, in my opinion, succeeded in creating a spiritual and a sustainable existence around them.