More than a doctor: The NHS frontline hero who used music to help the nation during lockdown

By Khrista Davis

We sometimes look at doctors and put them in this inescapable medical box, thinking that they only know about medicine and that being a doctor means you have to be serious all the time with no fun allowed. However, Kishan Bodalia is the complete opposite. 

The 26-year-old medical professional from Coventry, has been looking after Covid patients and felt that there was more that he could do. He put his other talent to use and began Djing live on his social media to uplift the nation during these challenging times. 

Bodalia studied medicine at the University of Birmingham from 2013 to 2019. “Medicine as a degree was very challenging and very tough, but incredibly exciting and fun to learn because you are really challenging yourself all the time to stretch your knowledge base and having experiences that you thought you would never have. And learning how to make people better is just such an amazing feeling,” he says.  

But, he wasn’t just focusing on his degree. “Outside of that I had a lot of fun developing my hobbies as well,” he adds, one of which was Djing. 

From a young age, he was playing the piano, clarinet, and the saxophone. “All my life I have been into music and when I was a child I grew up listening to CDs. The first music I loved was Saxophone jazz music that my Dad used to play me on CDs when I would go to bed,” he adds. 

Bodalia enjoyed music. He played in jazz bands and the orchestra in school, his talents musically were far from few and he ended up receiving a music scholarship at his school. He clearly wasn’t finished with music just yet.

He took his interest in music further, “when I got to university I was immersed in the dance music scene, going to clubs and festivals. When I would go out, I would be so excited by the music and what the DJ was doing,” Bodalia says.

After that he began to develop himself as a DJ and an artist, he bought some decks and practiced in his bedroom for fun. 

He started playing at clubs and festivals around the world whilst he was at medical school. And ever since that his DJ career took off!

In his second year, he and his friend were appointed as the directors of a record label that two female students started and is now a company called New Street Records. Not long after that, he received the Point of light award for that from David Cameron. 

He went onto winning an international DJ competition run by a huge major festival called Tomorrowland in his third year.

After six long years, Bodalia finally qualified as a doctor in the summer of 2019 and began to work, starting with four-month rotations. With a chuckle he says, “My first 4-month rotation was in A&E and that was very challenging, very fun and a really steep learning curve. It was also very exciting because I like being put in the deep end and having to deliver under pressure and that is what A&E really taught me.” 

After finishing A&E in December 2019, he moved onto the respiratory ward and was due to move on from the job in April 2020, but in March COVID-19 struck and he was kept in the ward as COVID-19 is a respiratory virus.

Bodalia was thrown right in the deep end and worked very hard on the frontline. “Morale was low and I was living on my own and music was a thing that always made me feel good and happy. So, in April (2020) I decided to do a DJ set in my kitchen after my night shift and called it “NHSessions” and posted it on Instagram,” he says. And it went viral.

As a DJ, Bodalia would perform his sets at gigs and clubs where he would make one off appearances now and then. He never played at one particular club or held a residency; he instead chose to hold a residence in people’s hearts.

Bodalia began to perform live DJ sets from the comforts of his own home. He says, “I wanted to give everyone else something to look forward to everyday. Initially I wanted the people closest to me to feel good, but also those who were at home in lockdown. And it has reached millions”. 

He live streams on Instagram with over 18,000 followers, Facebook and has even moved onto Tiktok – where some of his videos have gone viral. 

“My overall aim is to reach as many people as we possibly can, so they can feel these good vibes and feel happy. So, if I keep producing content in these different formats then we will reach those people”, Bodalia says.  

NHSessions has gained a lot of support from influencers like Jonas Blue, MistaJam and Radio 1’s Daniel Howard and many more.

Special guests, whether it be artists or other DJs, will sometimes join Bodalia on his set performances on Instagram. 

Others have collaborated in different ways, such as, a fitness enthusiast or personal trainer may lead a workout whilst Bodalia plays music. 

Although it is fun, Bodalia says: “It is more difficult to perform on a live stream than in a festival because you can’t see your audience, when it is online you can only see numbers, so you don’t know exactly what they want, whereas a live crowd you see emotion.” 

Despite that, he keeps viewers smiling no matter what. With an array of music to choose from and access to upcoming artists, he always finds the right tracks to play.

Bodalia says: “During the pandemic it has been an absolute rollercoaster, intense at times, heart-breaking, emotionally, and physically demanding and unpredictable. 

“To begin with the anxieties and fear was difficult, but as we approached the end of the first lockdown we became more familiar and as things opened up we felt more comfortable. 

“But when it came back again towards the end of last year around Christmas, that is when it really started to ramp up again.”

The music not only helped lift the spirits of his listeners during lockdown but having the music to focus on for himself was “amazing”, he says, “I’ve developed skills I never thought I would have. I didn’t think I would have been comfortable being interviewed or DJ on TV, but I found myself doing that countless times over the last year.”

For Bodalia, music is more than something he enjoys, it is his life. 

“Music and medicine are the most important things to me; I have dedicated my life to becoming a doctor. I love what I do, I love what the doctor role entails.

“I enjoy being stimulated on a daily basis, helping people and the lifelong learning and music is always going to be a huge part of what I do. So, in the future, it’s about finding that perfect balance of how I can be both a doctor and a DJ.”

Hoping that the roadmap out of lockdown goes to plan, Bodalia adds: “I’m really excited to DJ, I have festivals and events lined up for the end of Summer, I just can’t wait to connect with a live crowd.”

Going forward Bodalia aims to find ways to celebrate great music and to tackle mental health in the music community.

“NHSessions are more than just live stream DJ sets and music, my mission is music and good health”, he says.

Khrista Davis

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