UK Artist Interviews

Nafees

Could Acting Be Next for the Singer?

 

 

4 years ago, Nafees burst on the British Asian Music scene with Bukhar – and has not looked backed.

No-one could have predicted how he would go on to make such a massive impact within the Asian music industry in just a short space of time, without any formal training and without the help of an established record label to promote him.

For a brand new artist, this was unheard of. The public were obviously intrigued, but this was just the beginning of the love affair of the fans with the new star which had only just started to shine. The Manchester-born star talks to DesiXpress.

 

 

Your track is number one in the Asian music charts. What’s the secret?

Thank you to everyone that has supported me. God bless you! I couldn’t have done it without you guys. Thank you! It’s my seventh hit but fifth number one so. I’m not here to compete with anyone. I’m following my own steps and my own conviction. I guess it’s just about leaving it to the One above.

 

 

You shot your music video in Dubai. Tell me about that experience.

I wouldn’t change it for the world. Being out there and experiencing it, it’s one I won’t forget.

 

 

In terms of your singing career, did you have a Guru or Ustaad?

No, not really. I’ve never had anyone who at the beginning of my career gave me any tips with regards to music. But eventually I met up with a few vocal coaches and you get on with them. You have to be able to do that in this industry. If you don’t, you’re really not fulfilling your potential to the max.

 

 

You seem like the kind of guy that would make people feel at ease.

That’s the main thing! You don’t want people to feel uncomfortable around you. You make home wherever we go. If people like you, they like you for what you are. It’s a blessing.

 

 

What have you got lined up. Could acting be next?

You never know! I’ve done a few drama courses! I’ve set a goal and I would like to see some of my music being played in Bollywood and I want to be able to walk away on a high. You get a lot of artists who have given up because they have run out of inspiration or faded out because of the new generation. 2016 I want to give my all. I’m giving my fans a few songs. I want to leave my names among some of the best.

If the time is right then the time is right. Before I started my music, I set goals.

 

 

So what have you got planned for 2016?

You’ll have to wait! I’m not the sort of guy that lets people know. Anyone with a secret doesn’t want to let their secret away. I’ve got something up my sleeve.

Zack Knight and Raxstar team up for a powerhouse collaboration with Queen released through T-Series.

A record which has been highly anticipated, Queen finally puts together two highly sought after and respected artists within the British Asian music scene.

 

Fresh from his genre busting single Poison, Raxstar is back on form switching from Punjabi to English with confidence and ease. His meaningful bars and unforgettable quotable’s sit effortlessly on the infectious “eastern flute meets western beats” soundscape.

 

Handling the outstanding production duties is Zack Knight himself. After the multiple successes of hit singles including Looking For Love and Nakhre under his belt, he brings his soulful vocals to Queen. He continues to impress with his plethora of talents and showcases an unseen side of his artistry with his Punjabi chorus (co written by Raxstar & GV).

aSIAN cOLLECTION

 

 

Sony Music, the award-winning, No.1 record company for UK compilations, and Asian music aficionado/ BBC Broadcaster and DJ, Nihal, have created an alternative soundtrack for the summer of 2015, with the release of an exciting new compilation album – The Asian Collection.

 

Nihal Arthanayake, one of the leading torch-bearers of the Asian music industry for many years, has collated over 50 tracks that create an explosive mix of Bollywood and British Asian classics. Nihal will be taking part in interviews at an exclusive junket in London.

 

The Asian Collection, which is set to release across the UK on 31st July, is a tribute to the powerful and legendary voices that make up the Asian music scene including: Panjabi MC, A.R. Rahman, Jay Sean,

Bally Sagoo and many more.

 

The Asian Collection reaches stores on the 31st of July 2015

as a 3CD physical release as well as digital download. 

Click to pre-order NOW via Amazon.

Click to pre-order NOW via iTunes.

After scoring yet another number 1 on the Asian music charts, Zack Knight has a lot to celebrate. His latest song, Nakhre, has been an instant hit with audiences.

“It kind of came about the same way the song “Dheere” came about, I was never planning on being the actual singer on the song. For a few years I was making songs and putting “dummy vocals” down for the intended singers as I only really wanted to concentrate on western music at the time. But then I ended up being the artist on Dheere after the song has been sent to T-series and they offered me the opportunity to remix more of their catalogue. I was working with a talented band called Dewaan and one of the members happen to come over and asked me to work on a song for them. I remember hearing it back and thinking this song would be perfect for them, not even considering myself in the equation. This was nearly 2 years ago from today.”

But he doesn’t really give himself enough credit. “I write and produce all my own music with some help on this song from my cousin to translate some of the words into Punjabi. I have had successful singles before but this one really mattered being my own composition. I was criticised initially for following the remix route but the release of Nakhre has proved that I can’t be put in a box.Zack Knight 2

Teaming up with producer Khiza, Zack thinks this isexactly the kind of confidence which he needs to keep going. “I think Khiza being in the industry for as long as he has given me that extra confidence to let the music speak for itself and at the same time push me above and beyond my limits. I was unaware that I can work so hard and put out so much music in such a short space of time until he pressed me to stay on top of things.

But there are many which are unaware of Zack’s past life on the Brit-Asian scene. “My true supporters will know I got into the Brit-Asian scene many years ago under a different name, Zee Kay. I released a number of records where I toured the UK and Europe. I was also studying at the time and had to step out but noticed dozens of new artists appear at a time where there was literally no one who made R’n’b other than Jay Sean and Raghav.

“What I’ve realised being in the music industry on and off for the past 6/7 years is that I have no idea what the future holds. I can only plan towards it but with everything that happened in my life up till now, I could have never predicated this. To think I would be singing in Hindi or Punjabi and be touring the globe when it was just yesterday that we put some music out. That just shows how quickly things can change overnight!

“The next song I put out is an original but with a sweet Indian sample in the hook, I can’t say what it is but that has to be my favourite. Mohammed Irfan and Arijit Singh are definitely my favourite singers right now!”

 

Serena Kern

 

Rishi Rich has delivered yet another amazing singer and songwriter in the form of Serena. South Indian born Serena Kern, who currently is having a highflying career as a lawyer in a top London firm, somehow still finds time to do her daily voice exercises.

Serena is from Tamil Nadu and is half-Swiss. Consuming various genres of music, it wasn’t until she got to university and began singing at open mic sessions that she discovered how in love with music she really was. Sitting down with DesiXpress, she talks music, her journey and the future.

 

  1. Your new single Dream tell us about the song and where did the idea come from?

I flew to Atlanta to work with Rishi on this EP and the idea for Dream came to us when we were in his studio. Rishi was playing with some ideas and the sounds he was coming up with were really bubbly and vibrant and that is when the idea of Dream came about. The sounds conjured up memories of my teenage years and the song is a throwback to when I was a teenager.

  1. Tell us your journey with Rishi Rich and what is he like to work with?

Rishi is obviously very talented (but I don’t need to tell anyone that!). As a person, he is just a really nice, down to earth kind of guy. As an artist, it is so important to find a producer who is encouraging and supportive, and Rishi is just great that way!

  1. Tell us about your journey and how did you get into music?

Music has always been a passion. It started out as something I enjoyed doing at home (I used to put up little plays for my family when I was a child). I became more serious about music when I started university and this was when I started writing and recording my own songs. The reception was very good and I was invited to collaborate with a producer in south India on a few tracks. I was encouraged by this and from here music started to take on a life of its own and I have eventually found myself working with Rishi Rich!

  1. What is it like going from a high profiled job to the music industry?

There are many overlaps between being a lawyer and being a musician. As a lawyer you learn to be careful and concise with language and words and as a songwriter, this is very important too. I have developed various skills in each job that I put to use in the other!

  1. How do you manage to the balance life as lawyer and a singer?

I always say that music is something that just comes naturally and is a real passion of mine. I don’t really think about music as something I have to make time for or put in my diary as it is something I am always thinking about…it is an intrinsic part of my personality.

 

  1. You write your own lyrics where do you get the inspiration from?

The lyrics usually emanate from an emotion I am feeling. For example, when I wrote Dream, the lyrics were inspired by the emotion that Rishi’s music was conjuring up. I take inspiration from the little things in life, the moments I feel would be lost forever unless I captured them somehow.

  1. Growing up who did you enjoy listening to and who has inspired you?

Growing up, I was blessed to be exposed to a variety of music and sounds, from south Indian Kollywood to Bollywood film songs as well as an array of music my father used to bring me from his travels overseas. As a child you tend to absorb everything and, to this day, consciously and unconsciously all these sounds come together in my music.

  1. You have worked with Rishi Richi is there anyone else you would look at working with?

Working with Rishi has been amazing and we have really bonded well. You can work with the best in any filed, but if there is no connection and you are not able to bond, the outcome will never be great. Rishi and I work so well together and our working styles are so similar- both of us are perfectionists but at the same time are ruthlessly efficient!  I want to explore further where our relationship will take us!

  1. What is the next for Serena?

Rishi and I have been working on promoting Dream, but at the same time are excited about what we have created so far and want to test the waters with more new sounds and ideas. With Rishi at the helm, I want to explore the unchartered territories in music, creating sounds that are fresh and yet have wide commercial appeal.

Indiraa

East meets West Brit Pop/Club Singer Indiraa is a darling among many of the mainstream A-list DJ’s and is fast becoming force to be reckoned with on the commercial music scene. The Indian-born Indiraa rose in fame with her catchy electro pop hits, “I Get Off” and “Shrink”, however the singer/songwriter pushed the boundaries by openly discussing her battle with depression and how her music has helped slowly tackle this. Now the star returns with an upcoming collaboration with famed Reggae artist Maxi Priest and their new single “Yo-yo”.

Can you tell me what you have been up to in the last year after the release of Bollywood Queen?

I don’t know where to start, I completed my Album Never Too Late and I can honestly say it was really fun to do. I performed at various venues including Trafalgar Square, Portugal, Southampton and numerous venues in London including The British Indian Awards. I performed at charity events for Pancreatic Cancer Action and Great Ormond Street. A nomination for The Asian Women’s Achievement Awards saw me into the last five in my category of Arts and Culture. I spent the summer in Portugal and wrote all the lyrics for my new album. I am in the process of completing my new album Second Chance which features the Reggae legend Maxi Priest. I had a great time working with him and I also had the good fortune of working with a gifted musician who brought my lyrics to life, his name is Livingston Brown and he has worked with the biggest names in the industry. My latest songs on my new album were mastered at Abbey Road, for me just being within the holy grail of musicians was exciting, overwhelming and I am still in disbelief. I did a small role in a Danny Dyer movie which got me a lead role in another. I also shot four videos this last year, two abroad and one with Maxi Priest in London, all in all it was quite an eventful year.

How have you found the music industry so far?

The music industry is an exciting place to be a part of. Needless to say like in all aspects of life you will meet people who are good to you and people who can be hard to get on with, but that is life. The difficult part is waiting for something to happen, the fun part is meeting musicians, radio personalities and all the links in the chain of making an album and making a career. Going to places like Abbey Road was the most exciting thing ever.

In the last year do you feel you have developed as an artist and if so how?

The experiences of life will always help you mature in whatever you may do. Initially when I started writing lyrics I would go spontaneously by what I felt at the time. Like to ponder over past experiences and future expectations, another part of my experience over the last year is changing my voice to its natural singing voice rather than trying to be something I am not. When I first started singing I did a lot of club music and tried to sound younger than my years, I now feel my voice goes with my mature lyrics and my more experienced view of life. I find it very easy to sit in on interviews live or otherwise and just be myself rather than someone I think people would like me to be. I am what I am.
How did you come about working with Maxi Priest?

I believe in life everything happens for a reason and it will happen at the right time, in my early days my music was not mature enough to handle someone as amazing as Maxi Priest to work with. I had the good fortune of meeting Livingston Brown and started working on my new album with him. He loved my lyrics and said that it would be great to work with me further in the future. While we pondered over 300 sheets of paper of words written by me I chose one which I would love to do as a duet, to which he answered “let me run it by Maxi and see if he’s interested”. The rest is history I guess, Maxi knows a good song when he sees it and I certainly know a good star when I see one. I guess I was ready to work with the big guns, as I said everything happens for a reason at the right time.

What do the lyrics in your new song mean and what inspired them?

It is said that men are from Mars and women are from Venus and that is why we understand each other as we would someone from another planet. The song yo-yo is basically how you feel when you are in a relationship, like a yo-yo up-and-down! It is not just women who feel insecure about a relationship, men can feel as insecure, they just do not voice it as vocally as women do. In this song, a man and woman speak of the relationship from their perspectives and you realise we’re as insecure as one another. The days in a relationship a man and woman both feel “up and down, like a yo-yo, swinging on a string!” I think everybody has experienced this at some stage in their lives.

In your past interviews you have talked about depression and how your music has helped, how so?

Depression in my case is a clinical depression and it is not something that will go away without medication. It is like a diabetic having to take medicine or a heart patient having to take medicine for life, I accept that this is a something I have to bear with. We all have ways of making a tough job easier, I do not think that music will altogether takeaway my depression but I look at it as a crutch. For a person who cannot walk it makes it easier to walk but it does not create a miracle where you stand up and run a marathon. Hopefully as time goes by it will get easier for me to lean less on my crutch and yet I know it’s always there for me, music is in my heart, in my soul and also in my head. I will always need music in my life as much as I need the air that I breathe.

What would you say to someone suffering if they think they may be suffering from depression?

My advice to anyone suffering from depression is you may not eradicate it forever but one thing you can do is make it easier. It is “never too late” to do anything in your life that’ll make you happier. Anything that you aspire to be you can be, human beings are not limited, we’re infinite in our abilities. I found a way to deal with it and was fortunate. I do not believe I could have got through without medication, at times I have tried to give it up believing I was okay but I had gone one step forward and two steps back. If you need medication take it, that is my advice. If you feel you cannot get out of bed in the morning, you have nothing to say to people, or you just are not happy all I can say is one thing, it is the title of the very first song I wrote “I need a shrink!” if you need to see a psychiatrist you are not crazy you are clever enough to recognise you need help.

What have been your musical inspirations from yester years and do you find your music is inspired from your youth?

My biggest inspiration while growing up in music was George Harrison as I believe he is one of the best lyricists in the world. George Harrison had insight into life and lives to come. He also had the ability not just to make his “guitar gently weep” but to make the people who listened deeply to what he had to say, he made their souls gently weep. I spent a lot of my youth listening to music memorising lyrics and during the concert for Bangladesh I went door-to-door singing songs from the concert collecting money for Bangladesh. It is a part of my youth I fondly hang on to. He taught me to feel for other people who are less fortunate than I. George Harrison taught me not to listen to what people say but why they are saying what they say. My modern-day hero is Bryan Adams. In my new album I have written a song called “rock guru” which I have dedicated to my rock guru – Bryan Adams. Bryan Adams is not in external showman he is a true musician.

You have a daily routine which keeps you physically fit, can you describe a normal day of exercise and is it getting harder to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

I do not pretend to be the most disciplined person in the world but I have always battled with my weight and try and keep my weight at the low end of my height bracket which is for various reasons. These are vanity and health. I have always had to battle with my weight and used to play tennis at a fairly good level and played in a lot of competitions, this enabled me to keep fit from a very young age. As a result whenever I run I do a minimum of 5 to 6km on certain days of the week. Alternatively if I am near a swimming pool when I am travelling I try to do a minimum of 100 lengths. I try to eat as healthily as I can but I cheat now and again. I like to kickbox occasionally and have a boxing ring in my home in my gym. I do not tend to do a lot of weight training anymore and I do not ride horses as I suffered a severe back injury a couple of years ago. I feel that when I am on stage or anything to do with the entertainment industry people expect you to look a certain way. We should not judge a book by its cover but sadly we will do hence I trying keep myself as trim and groomed as possible.

You talk of relationships in your lyrics, what advice would you give a single woman in today’s world and do you think women have caught up with men in the game of love and equality.

I can honestly tell a single woman that if she is unhappy being single then all she has to do is go on a manhunt. Men and women are very devious in the game of love, the fact that we dominate the game of love in itself suggests that it entails strategy and ultimately a win or lose situation. I was once told that women give sex to get love and men give love to get sex, single women must bear this in mind. Having said that human beings are very manipulative, we are all capable of playing games, mind games or otherwise, but do not play with the person’s heart as you can only lose!

Yo Yo will be released on 16th March 2015.

Dr.Zeus, Zora Randhawa and Fateh

Zora Randhawa Speaks to DesiXpress About his New hit Single ‘INCH’

The Dr Zeus camp delivers another massive tune in the form of ‘Inch’. Headed up by extraordinary ‘Zora’ and featuring Punjabi rapper ‘Fateh’, Inch is already topping playlists worldwide! This infectious track bears all the hallmarks of the inimitable Zeus style, perfectly blending Punjabi sounds with hip-hop elements. Zora sat down with DesiXpress to talk about the massive success of ‘Inch’ and how this hit track came about.

 
Congratulations on the new single! What is your response to the fast global praise?

I’m feeling very blessed and thankful to God and all the fans around the world who showed so much love to my new single “INCH”.

How did the three of you come together for this track?

After the final recording of my vocals Zeus decided to put Fateh’s rap on this track, also Fateh was in love with the beat of this track so he was all ready to do his magic on “INCH”. So the three of us worked together and of course Zeus worked really hard as he does with all his projects.

What inspired the single? Tell us about how you wrote the lyrics and raps?

Me and Zeus were looking for the right song from long time then Zeus finally got the lyrics of this track from our good friend Mavi Singh who is also a singer, writer and composer, and luckily Fateh was also in the country when we were recording this track. Fateh and I wrote the rap and we recorded Fateh on the same day. The final mix came out really good so everything just happened so smoothly.

Tell us about the making of the music video, was it a fun process?

Making the music video was definitely fun, the whole ZeusWorld crew went to India for the video shoot and it was a two day shoot. We used very expensive sets and locations, it was great fun but very tiring.

You and Dr. Zeus toured many countries together, are there any upcoming tours you can tell us about?

We have an American tour coming up from February to March. In April we are going to Australia, from August to September we have our tour in India. We are also planning a tour in Pakistan later this year too.

Any more upcoming collaborations?

This year I have at least two more single tracks coming up with Dr. Zeus, one with PBN Kam Frantic and one single with MoFolactic.

Is the single playing on TV screens?

Yes, single been playing on PTC Punjabi (worldwide) B4U Music channel (Worldwide) Bristasia TV, MH1 TV, 9x Tashan TV and MTV India.

Finally, what is new for Zora in 2015?

Four to five single tracks and loads of gigs and tours in 2015!

Manjeet Ral and Gippy Grewal Introduce Their Latest Dance Anthem

Former member of RDB (Rhythm Dhol Bass) Manjeet Ral releases his electrifying Punjabi anthem of the year ‘Party Like a Punjabi’. Following the split from RDB Manjeet went on to form MANJmusik and has a slew of exciting new projects in the pipeline. From a new clothing line, plans with Bollywood and exciting new tracks in production MANJmusik is set to take entertainment industry by storm. In collaboration with Punjabi actor and singer Gippy Grewal Manjeet presents his latest hit ‘Party Like a Punjabi’, an adrenaline pumped dance anthem that bridges the gap between cultures with its mix of Eastern and Western musical styles. Speaking to DesiXpress Manjeet discusses his new single, life after RDB and why he believes it is important to reach out to a global audience.

Tell us about the background to this single such as musical style and concept.

I wanted to create a party anthem, the whole idea was to make a track that not only Punjabi people can dance to but everybody can dance to. I wanted it to have an international feel, the hook line is in English but is still orientated to those who are Punjabi so everybody can technically sing it. Even when we were shooting the video we had non-Indian people all singing along with the hook line.

Why is it important to you that this song reaches out to people of different cultures?

Everybody is making Punjabi folk music which I am a big fan of, I listen to artists such as Jazzy B, Sukshinder Shinda and many other singers. They are making some amazing songs but what happens is it becomes targeted to just those audiences who love folk. What I wanted to do was merge the Punjabi with that international feel, it is really important to capture a bigger audience. I love the Punjabis and the Folk fans who listen to hardcore Desi songs, but I wanted to reach out to a bigger audience throughout the world.

How did Gippy Grewal get involved in collaborating on this track and how did you both meet?

Gippy is a close friend of mine and we have bumped into each other many times at different awards ceremonies, studio sessions and so on. When I made the track as a sort of draft I said to Gippy, ‘What do you think of this track called Party Like a Punjabi? If you’re feeling it I would love to have you on the track because you are doing so well in the Punjabi industry.’ As he is a Punjabi pushing real Punjabi movies to the next level I thought it would be a great opportunity to have him on the song. After agreeing to listen to it he loved the track as soon as he heard it. He said we should sing it together and make it the Punjabi anthem of the year.

The video features Canadian Youtube star Jusreign who performs a funny skit, how did he become involved in the music video?

I am a big fan of Jusreign, as a comedian I think he is one of the funniest guys on Youtube, also my son is also a massive fan of him. I just reached out to him as I live in Toronto and he is out in Toronto as well, so I asked him would you mind doing something in the video? He said he would be honoured to jump in a do a little skit so he came down for the video shoot on the day and honestly, nothing was really rehearsed! We made it up on the spot and it came out great.

What was it like shooting the video?

This was the first video we shot downtown where we had permits and streets blocked off by police so it was an interesting video shoot! We had a lot of dancers and I wanted to make sure the video was not hardcore Desi, the only Desi elements in the video are the Dhol players and Bhangra dancers. If you see the dancers they are a very good mix because I wanted to keep that international theme.

Can you tell us any details about the new song ‘Desi hip-hop’ that you are releasing in January?

‘Desi hip-hop’ is completely different to ‘Party Like a Punjabi’ as it is very hip hop, I wanted to create something that was different from the last release I had. ‘Desi hip- hop’ is a collaboration of the best of the best Desi hip-hop artists from all around the world such as Humble the poet from Canada, Raxtar from the UK and Roach Killa who is Canadian and British. We also have Badshah from India and Sarb Smooth, so I have tried to capture everyone into one song. The song is about the subject of ego where people have big egos but I have a bigger heart than your ego, each rapper is doing their flavour throughout the whole song and it gives a good Desi hip- hop feel. With hip-hop, rapping in Hindi or Punjabi is a growing trend and going on throughout the whole world and getting bigger and bigger. It’s just my little contribution to push Desi hip-hop onto the next level and try to make this a genre on its own. Just like we have Reggaeton, when that first came out it had the Spanish language but people still understood it. We can make Desi hip-hop a genre in itself where even non-Desi people can listen to it.

Are the rumours true that you will contribute to the soundtrack for the Fast and Furious 7 movie?

No, we were going to do something on that but we didn’t bother following through because of legal and contractual issues. So unfortunately that didn’t happen. At the time there was a lot of hype and I was hoping it would happen. But where you lose one you gain another as I ended up becoming the ambassador for 50 Cent’s ‘SMS Audio’ headphone line, which was a big thing for me as well.

Do you feel you have left the troubles of RDB behind with this new single? Is this a step in a new direction?

Yes, at the end of the day the Manj Musik brand is growing, it does take time and when anybody starts a new brand it is very hard at first. I was just blessed to have had the team that was originally behind RDB still behind me today. The whole industry and other artists are still supporting me so I have been blessed to push on this brand to make it bigger. My main focus now is to release the best music I possibly can for the fans, I don’t want to let them down and I am going to do what I can with all my power to make cracking tracks and anthems.

Finally, what does the future hold for MANJmusik?

There is a lot more coming, I am still working with the Bollywood industry and big production houses so there are still some Bollywood songs coming through. I am also releasing independent music such as a song coming out after ‘Desi hip-hop’. We also have Nindy Kaur coming out with a new single and I have a clothing line called SOS (Swagged Out Sardars) clothing which will be launching next year and we will be starting it off with ‘Party Like a Punjabi’ T-shirts. It is just non-stop, I want to continue to deliver and hopefully the fans and public will give me as much love as they did with RDB.

Anand B

Jeeti Productions have unveiled their latest new artist Anand B. 21-year-old Anand released his first hit single ‘Dil De De’ in June 2013 and now presents his new hit ‘Rani’. Under the mentorship of the renowned Ustad Ajit Singh Mutlashi, Anand has delved into the genres of Bhangra, Punjabi and classical music and he is ready to take the music world by storm. We chat to Anand about his new single, his musical heroes, why it’s hard to balance life as a student and a singer!

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I have been interested in music since the age of 16 and this track is my second single with Jeeti Productions from Birmingham. I started learning from my Ustad Ajit Singh Mutlashi, he has taught a lot of artists such as Sukshinder Shinda and Jaz Dhami. That is where it all started.

What is it like learning from a renowned artist such as Ustaad Ajit Singh Mutlashi?

It’s great, I got introduced to Ustaad-Ji through my Nana-Ji. He has taught some of the biggest names in the Bhangra industry so it’s good to have that kind of man behind me.

Can you tell us a bit about the track Rani?

It’s my second song and we wanted to give the audience a Bhangra song to show I can do Bhangra music. We are going to go into something different afterwards, I want to do maybe a slow song and experiment.

When was your first single Dil De De released?

It was released on the 6th of June in 2013.

That’s fantastic because within a year you released you were able to release your second song…

It would have been quicker but I am studying at the same time so it is difficult to balance everything. We tried our best and we are happy with this new song.

You have entered the entertainment industry at a young age, what has the journey been like so far?

It has been good, obviously it is early days at the moment so I have not really been through that much. The people I have met, shows I have had and interviews I have done have been really good. But there is a long, long way to go yet.

What is it like working with Jeeti?

It is really great because he is a well respected figure in the Bhangra industry and has a lot of contacts who are also supporting me as a new artist. I have good backing behind me.

At what age did you realise you wanted to sing?

I started learning at 16 as I was always into Bhangra and Indian music,

“at that age I felt I was mature enough to make my own decisions”

I wanted to learn properly and go to the basics so I started learning classical and Raags and it just began like that.

Growing up, what kind of songs did you listen to that got you into Bhangra?

It’s probably Punjabi Bhangra music that got me interested and Bollywood, not the new Bollywood that’s really cheesy! The old Bollywood that had meaningful music.

Who did you listen to?

Sonu Nigam who is one of my favourites, Jazzy B and Sukshinder Shinda. They are the main ones, if I could I would love to work with them!

You said you are studying as well, does your singing ever interfere with your studies? Is it hard to find a balance?

There is a balance but it is difficult, because you have to give your full attention to university but I also have shows and interviews for example. But I am enjoying it so it is all good.

Are there any other genres of music that you have ever experimented with?

Just those that I mentioned really, the Punjabi that I am doing and classical.

Do you have support from your family?

They have always been supportive! They knew from a young age that I was going to get into music so it wasn’t really a shock to them. I didn’t just come up one day and say “right I want to do music!” They knew it was getting to the point that I wanted to start something so they have always been ok with it.

Have you done any shows or gigs lately?

I have had quite a few shows especially with the first single which was good experience. It helped me build my confidence, make new contacts and meet new artists.

“I am still a fan of these artists and all of a sudden I am performing with them!”

For example I was at A.S Kang’s launch party which I got into through MOVIEBOXrecordLABEL, It was a shock to be around A.S Kang, Sukshinder Shinda and Jazzy B. I have a couple of shows coming up with my new song.

We are going to see you on the TV screens now, will you be going onto Brit Asia?

The video is running on Brit Asia TV and I also have an interview on there in the future.

Where will your new song Rani be available?

It is available on all the leading platforms including iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. You can see it everywhere really as the video is on Youtube and of course BritAsia TV.

Finally, where do you see yourself in five years?

Well I want to carry on doing more music and I don’t just want to stick to Bhangra, I want to do more slow songs and maybe even Hindi songs. I just want to experiment and do different things. People have asked me before if I want to start singing in English but I don’t think I want to go that far.

Thank you for being with us today, all the best with your new track and we look forward to hearing more from you.

There will be a lot more to come, thank you!

Rani is available on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play
Be sure to follow Anand at @ANANDBMUSIC

We thank 1NationMedia for arranging this interview
Follow them at @1Nation_PR1

Left to right: DJ Swami, Sur, Liana, S-Endz

Electronic pop band Swami have had an incredible journey trail-blazing the music scene with their one-of-a-kind sound. Taking inspiration from both the East and the West, their music is an ingenious blend of electronic dance and UK Bhangra making for a truly universal experience. Members DJ Swami, Sur, Liana and S-Endz have worked tirelessly for the past four years on their latest album Upgrade featuring the incredible new single Do it Again. The band sat down with DesiXpress to talk about their musical style, identity and what makes Upgrade the album to buy.

Tell us about the background of ‘Do it Again’ what inspired the track?

DJ Swami: We have actually been working on the new album for about four years now, because the last album we worked on called ‘53431’ had a track called ‘Sugarless’, which kind of started a new era for Swami with the combination of vocals between Sur, Liana and S-Endz. We found our sound and thought we should put this into a new album. So we started the album and Do it Again was one of the first tracks we started working on, then a new challenge struck us where we thought why don’t we start putting not just Punjabi and English in but Hindi as well. But that was much easier said than done! So after several trips to India and several versions later suddenly Do it Again became a big favourite track of ours, so we thought we should put this song out as our first single. It has the right kind of sentiment about us wanting to relive all the good times about music and the things that we like, a correlation with relationships that went wrong that you maybe want to repair. It was just a song that we thought represents Swami in 2014.

What about other songs on the album, will you be releasing those soon?

S-Endz: At the moment our loose plan is that we will do the second single in early 2015 and shoot the video for that. We have a song in mind, I’m not going to say which one it is because it might change! Obviously with the industry being a singles market you have to play things by ear a little bit ans see how well the song you have out does before you put the next one out, that’s just how we do it!

This album has been four years in the making, why has it taken so long? What has the journey been like during those four years?

Sur: It has taken so long because rather than throw out a few singles which we could easily do, that’s not the aim that we have in mind. If we were told we need an album for next year any great producer could go in the studio and do that. We are trying to create music that will really stand out from our peers, we are trying to create something new as well in terms of a genre. So it wasn’t just a case of let’s just throw some Hindi on this new sound that we found, we wanted to make sure the songs were carefully crafted, made sense and were honest. If at any point we felt that we were faking something then we may as well not do it and let someone else do it. We didn’t anticipate a four year journey for this album and at the end of every year we found ourselves apologising to our fans saying, ‘Ok we promise, in a couple of months time you are going to hear something!’ But then as DJ Swami said we’d go over to India and be influenced by something else and think, actually you have got to be humble when you think you’ve got it, but think actually this is missing. You have to be prepared to go back and make a few changes and once the product and the song are exactly as we want it, only then are we happy to share it with other people.

Liana: It doesn’t help everyone being perfectionists! Just tweaking it here and there and somebody else will come in and say how about that? We think it’s better but then there’s something else.

DJ Swami: Also we don’t really have any role models that we really model our sounds on, we do have role models for different influences for Swami but there’s no other artist that makes the kind of music that we make so we feel we learn from our own mistakes.

“We improve our own sound and that’s part of our commitment to being original and having the quality that people expect from us.”

You say you want to revolutionise electronic pop music with ‘Upgrade’, how do you feel you have you done that with this album?

DJ Swami: With revolution, the word that comes to mind is ‘risk’, somebody has to stand out and be prepared to take a risk. That’s us! Nobody has heard electronic pop with English, Punjabi and Hindi done properly and authentically by blending our East and West background. It’s not an easy challenge and it’s a very brave thing to stand forward and be prepared to be successful at it or not successful at it.

“What we don’t ever want to be is mediocre.”

Sur: The main thing to remember as well is that it’s not a formula that we follow where we must have an Indian vocal there or an English beat here. Because then that’s not revolutionary, then we are trying to follow something that has already been done. By being revolutionary what we are trying to do is to set standards whereby other artists, songwriters and producers will say, ‘well they did it that way and that sounded really natural and people are humming their tunes’. People don’t even realise the intricacies of the music, but that’s a sign of the success that we are doing something that people haven’t done before but may influence what they do in the future.

Liana: When I first met Diamond and we sat down together he explained the idea, he had nothing to play but I joined the group because of this idea of where he wanted to go with the music. It was a natural progression of us coming together because no one was trying to be anything, everyone’s vocals sat together nicely and then the formula just evolved into what we are doing now.

S-Endz: I can’t think of any English bands who can mean as much to their core audience in England and to little kids in India and vice versa. We are trying to bridge that gap where we can have fans in England that love us and fans in India that love us. It actually means something to people no matter where they grow up.

What made you first want to combine electro pop with Bhangra and Asian music? Where you ever worried about the response you would get considering most British Asian artists delve into genres of hip-hop or rap?

DJ Swami: There wasn’t really a struggle, the reason why we make music is because we have a certain amount of insecurity about how we see ourselves as people and our identity. Are we Indian or are we British? Where do we fit in? We were just trying to create music that helps us figure out who we are and the things that we like, whether it’s Indian or English. Of course we have been through the rap, rock and reggae thing, we have been influenced by those things also, but we felt the biggest challenge for us was just to be pop. To make credible, popular music seemed like the greatest and also the most exciting challenge, having good songs that people identify with and memorable lyrics. We are not trying to create a persona where there’s a mystique about us, we just want people to think, ‘Oh, they make the kind of songs that they really believe in and represents them as people.’ If we do that we are doing the right thing as Swami.

S-Endz: I think with the mix of music we make there is a real authenticity to the British-Asian experience. A lot of people don’t get that balance right and that’s been the most difficult thing for us, trying to find that correct balance. Because if you are a traditional, English Bhangra singer and pretend you’re from a Pind in Punjab, they know that you are not. If you are from here and you rap, you cannot pretend you are from Harlem, they know that you are not! So trying to find that balance is very, very difficult and that had taken time but I think we have it.

Do you feel you have encouraged audiences to embrace their multi-cultural identities and music outside of their culture?

Sur: Definitely, growing up in this country as a British born Indian you have identity struggles in trying to figure out who you are and where you are from. There was always a clear memory I had where its all, if you are Indian then you are Indian, you hang out with Indian or non white kids. And the white kids in school often felt the same and I don’t think that was the mentality of the area, it was just those years, that’s just the way it was. But the older we have gotten the more open minded we have become and the more connected the whole planet is with each other. You come to realise that we are not that different, we can all enjoy each other’s cultures. We were talking about this when we were shooting the video that the sound we had touched upon, we would never have been able to create that if we were all just from India or we were all just from England. This sound has only been possible through the fact that we all have influences from India but we fully appreciate, acknowledge and accept the upbringing that we’ve had in this country. Were it not for the UK we would not have this sound, so if that coming together of different cultures and influences can create something as beautiful as a new sound of music, think about what else we could do if people came together like this.

Liana: It’s nice because you eliminate the racism boundaries as well because music at the end of the day is about feeling something,

“whether it’s the lyrics, melody or beat, you should be able to relate to any kind of music without it being a race thing.”

There are so many different styles out there so it’s very ignorant to say ‘I’m just going to listen to this type of music’, it’s close minded.

DJ Swami: For us it’s a natural thing and that’s the message we are giving out. There is a deeper meaning to what we do because we all want people to respect each other and accept that their identity may be more complicated than just being from one place. That’s what we try to promote.

You all come from different backgrounds, how did you all meet and form Swami?

DJ Swami: I started the project of Swami in the studio originally, experimenting with the sounds of British electronic and pop music with Indian sounds. We took it out of the studio and formed a band in around 2004-2005, then we did Desi Rock and it became a huge hit for us all over the world because we were fusing a bit of rock music, electronic and Bhangra in a new way. So the band went from strength to strength out of the studio and then we thought, where can we take this now? When Liana joined the group in 2007 we suddenly had a whole new pop, female dynamic in the band which was exciting for us. The last thing we wanted to be was a band of guys for guys, we wanted to be for everybody! Since 2007 we have been nurturing this sound as Swami such as when we did the album ‘Equalize’ and did Electro Jugni, Hey Hey and to 2009 when we did Sugarless. We have been learning all the way along and if you have noticed with our music, we have never repeated what we have done previously. What we have done in the past has evolved into something else and like I said before, we are prepared to take risks with our music.

Can you tell us about any concerts or gigs you have at the moment?

We have a launch party coming up in Birmingham next month on Saturday 13th December at the Electric club, this is a night called ‘Edit’. We are launching that as the single launch party with a performance and will be playing the video. From there we are going to be having tours next year being co-ordinated right now by our agents so if people go to our website or Facebook page, ‘Swami music’, That is where events and tours will be announced.

Rapid Fire questions!

Bollywood or Hollywood?

S-Endz: Hollywood

Dj Swami: Bollywood

Liana: Bit of both?

Sur: I would have to say both because like I said everything is coming together!

Healthy food or junk food?

S-Endz: Healthy, Im vegan!

Dj Swami: Healthy, vegetarian.

Liana: Healthy, fitness.

Sur: I was once junk but my new fitness gurus (points to band members) have turned me towards the light.

One Direction or the Beatles:

All together: Beatles!

Sur: Unless one of their managers is listening to this then One Direction all the way!

To find out more about Swami:

www.iamswami.com

Facebook at www.facebook.com/swamimusic

Twitter at @swamimusic

 

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