Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Interview with Desi Boome in Paris

The Punjabi French rapper Desi Boome looks unimpressed when I confess that even with my half forgotten A-level French I had to consult a dictionary to work out what his lyrics meant. “That’s what I do for English. The same! It’s the way for people to study, to learn.” In my defence the colloquial words that he uses were never taught at school.

Desi Boome is currently one of the most unique artists around. Since being a BBC Introducing artist on Friction last year, Desi Boome has performed on the English mela circuit. On a recent holiday to Paris, I managed to meet Desi Boome and ask him about his career. During the interview he keeps apologising for his English and slips into Punjabi or French if he can‘t find the right words. His English is endearing and I have kept his turn of phrase where possible.

Also known as Imran Nasar, he explained his stage name. “Desi for my Desi people because I'm Pakistani anyone to present my Desi community as no one did before. I think that if you're Indian Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan that is the same thing because in the past we are just one people. So that’s where I got Desi from. For Boome it’s for one of my friends who was singing with me who is actually dead. It’s in his memory.”

Rap doesn‘t instantly fit with the Eiffel Tower and other romantic tourist images of Paris, but was a feature in the banlieue where Desi Boome grew up. French rap seems to have connected him others. “I have got two big brothers they were rapping before me so when I grew up I listened to them. They were rapping where they live in the ghetto - everyone's rapping in the ghetto. People, they think we Pakistani and Indian people are different. So that's why I’m rapping in French like my brothers, I follow them.”

His French background is an advantage and Desi Boome uses it as a selling point. “Everyone told me that in UK everyone loves French, the French accent so that's why in this industry there is nobody before me in French, French Asian that's why I come with my French and Punjabi mix to be original in this scene”

Recently Desi Boome worked with Shizzio on his track Pakis in Paris. He was determined to set up the collaboration because of his talent rather than connections. “First day when I come to BBC studios to meet Bobby Friction, he asked me a question: If you want to work with any UK artist, with who would you want to work and I only said Shizzio because people told me in UK that he is the only one who has some respect in the Asian scene. Bobby told me if you want Shizzio’s number I've got it but I said no I don't want his number or his contact by someone I went to meet him myself. I was working with Kami K the producer and he told me that someone wanted to meet me and then he took me in his car and he drive me in front of Shizzio’s house and then I see him in front of me I was shocked and after that Sizzio told me about sending Niggers in Paris track if you want you can do their remix with Shizzio of Pakis in Paris that's how I came on the track.”

Compared to England, the Desi music scene in France is small. “I come to the UK and I see the main crowd the main stream scene of this music is in the UK. We cannot do anything in Paris right now but I am thinking to do it in Paris. There are also Punjabis  who start to sing in Punjabi and there are people who see me singing in Punjabi and want me to take them to the studio with me. I'm thinking to develop an Asian scene in Paris.”

Equality and harmony between different communities from the Asian subcontinent are major issues for Desi Boome and he covered them in Assi Desi. He says the lack of harmony gives people a bad impression of the Desi community. However, one good impression about Desis is Bollywood and France has it’s fair share of screaming French Shah Rukh Khan fans. Desi Boome sees it as advantage and wouldn’t say no to Bollywood. “If  by chance one day I hope I can sing in one of Bollywood films so I can become big. People can be following me from Paris."

Desi Boome is barely out of his teens yet has shown a maturity that escapes some older artists in the music scene. He is quietly determined and seems to know what he needs to do to further his career. Desi Boome is secretive about most of his future plans, but has been working with NRG and Moviebox. He is off to perform in Brussels with Culture Shock, but wants to go global. “Maybe I will go to the USA and to work with some mainstream hip-hop artist.” With his dedication and self-belief I think he might just get there.

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