Thursday, 31 January 2013

Ravi Shankar On BBC 4

BBC 4 will repeat a documentary about Ravi Shankar, the great sitar player who passed away last December. Ravi Shankar- Between Two Worlds follows the musician over two years in India. It also shows archive footage of him performing across the seven decades of his careers.

The documentary is followed by A Concert For Bangladesh Revisited. This tells the story of a concert that was held at Madison Square Garden in New York in 1971 to raise money for refugees. It was organised by Ravi Shankar and his pupil the Beetle member George Harrison.

Ravi Shankar - Between Two Worlds airs tomorrow at 10pm on BBC 4. A Concert For Bangladesh Revisited starts at 11pm.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Take Five: Wake Up Songs

It's that horrible time of the year. The weather is cold, wet and miserable. Christmas was weeks ago and summer seems months away. Resolutions have been broken and the days feel dark and drab without fairy lights to brighten them up. When the alarm goes off in the morning it's easier to press snooze and stay in bed. Here are five songs to make mornings a little bit easier.

Tigerstyle - Bol Bol Bol

It's impossible to sit still when this song is playing, which makes it a great soundtrack for a morning workout. Even if you just listen to it, you feel like you have burnt calories as it's hard not to feel completely exhausted by the time the track ends. One of the best songs from Mystics, Martyrs and Maharajas.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Original Turbanator

It's not often that one sees a Sikh on prime time television, especially one who coordinates his turbans with the rest of his outfit. So when Gurpreet Singh Sarin appeared on American Idol, Sikhs around the world were thrilled. The self-styled Turbanator is a talented singer. Unlike Param Singh on Take Me Out, he managed to present himself well and came away with his dignity intact. He was instantly put through to the next round by judges Mariah Carey and Keith Urban.

However, Gurpreet isn't the first turban-wearing Sikh to appear on a reality TV show for aspiring singers. Back in 2002 a turbaned man appeared on Popstars: The Rivals, the same show that started the careers of Girls Aloud. He performed a bizzare bhangra version of Holly Valance's Kiss Kiss which left judges Geri Halliwell and Pete Waterman bemused. Unlike Gurpreet, he didn't get through to the next round.

In the days before youtube, twitter and facebook, the clip went viral when people sent it to their friends via email.  The funky caterpillar was attempted on a few dancefloors and I even saw a parody performed at a party.But the clip was quickly forgotten along with One True Voice, the boyband who were created by the show to rival Girls Aloud.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Interview with G-ta in Dubai

G-ta is a producer based in Dubai who has been making music since 2004. Selected as a BBC Friction Introducing artist in 2009, he has since worked with other producers including Tigerstyle, MoFolactic and Janaka Selekta. G-ta kindly met up with me whilst I was in Dubai to talk about the music he makes.

You've done quite a few remixes, everything from Surinder Kaur's Akhiyan to Badmarsh and Shri's Appa. How do you go about remixing a song?
I just listen to a track. If I like it, I experiment with it. I break down the samples first and then try and make the base part first because that's the most important part of the track. Then the rest, everything happens accidentally. Because when you start a track it's one thing and then when you finish it, it's something else.

You live in Dubai. Do you think that has had an impact on how you make music and the music you make?

Nobody knows me here, nobody knows I make music over here. It's a secret! There is all this house Bollywood stuff over here so people don't actually get this whole bass music thing. Hopefully in the future they will but it will take some time. There are a few of my friends starting bass gigs over here.

Tell me the story of how Haa! came about?

MoFolactic heard me on the Bobby Friction show and he wanted to collaborate on a track. He sent me these vocals he recorded 2 years ago and I started just messing around with them. First of all I had to make the bass part, the bassline. I just made a simple drum snare pattern and laid it on that gidhya di rani loop. I just made the basic bass part and sent it over. He liked it and just kept it like that and he finished it.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Nindy Kaur feat. Raftaar - BBM

Nindy Kaur, who used to save up her lunch money to buy Bhangra records, has released her new single. BBM features Raftaar who worked with RDB on We Doin' It Big. 

BlackBerries and iPhones have been mentioned in Bhangra music before, but BBM is the first track which includes a phone in its story line. The lyrics are simple, repetitive and incredibly catchy. BBM should strike a chord with women who have been annoyed by an admirer who just won't get the hint.

Raftaar's performs alongside Nindy and his vocals contrast nicely with hers. They add an extra dimension to the track and I'd like to see Nindy and Raftaar work together again. BBM has a nice mix of styles and a solid bassline that I associate with the RDB sound. It's one of those songs that gets stuck in your head.

RDB's Manj joins his wife Nindy and Raftaar in the video and plays the part of guy who won't stop messaging Nindy. The video is kept relatively simple with a few clever special effects like Manj popping out of a BlackBerry. I liked the big retro speakers.

Overall, some great work from Three Records' leading lady.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Romay - Ram Teri Ganga

Romay, the producer who set up his own record label called Acoustic Science, has released a Bollywood remix via his SoundCloud page. Ram Teri Ganga was made in the Friction Lab and first played on Bobby Friction's show back in April 2012.

The track is a remix of the title track from the 1985 film Ram Teri Ganga Maili. The remix starts off slowly and builds. In true Romay style the is packed with dark notes and an atmospheric bassline.

Romay has made Ram Teri Ganga available as a free download via SoundCloud, so make sure you add it to your collection now. 

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Swami - Back It Up

Swami, whose name is an abbreviation of the phrase "so who am I", have just released their first single from their forthcoming album Upgrade. Back It Up comes in two different mixes: a Desi Mix in Hindi-Punjabi and an Original Mix in English.

Back It Up is instantly recognisable as a Swami track. Bhangra, dubstep and electropop are all blended together to create a unique dance track. It's a complex track with alot crammed into the four minutes of the song. There are some great vocals and I love how futuristic Back It Up sounds.

The difference between the Original Mix and the Desi mix is small, only the language of the lyrics changes, but this results in a subtle difference in the feel of each mix. It's hard to choose between them, but I think I prefer the Desi Mix.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Foji - Whatever!

Foji, the singer who staged a bhangra flash mob in Birmingham, has released the video for his latest single. Whatever! is taken from Foji’s next album and features the vocals of Sudesh Kumari.

The video is split between a performance of the song and the story of how drinking affects the lives of three couples. One of these couples is BBC Asian Network presenter Tommy Sandhu and Big Brother participant Deana Uppal.

The faux retro performance of the song with its sepia tint and lines was lovely. I would have been content if the video was just this. I liked how the storyline was set in the homes of the couples rather than at a party or in a club. The couples story was interesting but needed to be developed more. Each couple could have had a slightly different story to prevent it feeling repetitive.

I’m confused as to why Foji decided to call the song Whatever!. "Whatever" is not in the main lyrics of the song and the women’s attitude towards the drinking of their partners is not whatever, they are clearly hurt by the men's drinking. More thought was needed when planning this idea. 

The song itself is good. As wedding season come around again I can see this as a girls versus boys number. Sudesh Kumari’s vocals are great and I love the traditional feel to the track.

Overall, this video has a nice set up and a good storyline, but could have done with some more development. Foji usually produces videos that are different and Whatever! is an interesting video to watch.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Miss Pooja - Jattitude

Miss Pooja is a consistent artist. She regularly releases tracks tailored to her huge fan base and she never seems to change. My opinion of her also never seems to change. I have a love-hate relationship with her music which was still there when I gave her latest album Jattitude a listen.

Jattitude kicks off with Mundiya Nu Daure. It’s not the best start to the album as there is a disconnect between the vocals and the techno accompaniment. The English lyrics make little sense and I don’t see the point of them. Dashing Heer is similar in style to Mundiya Nu Daure and just as bad. Miss Pooja doesn’t sing much on the track and when she does the lyrics are repetitive. The mix of English and Punjabi is odd and the song is like a bad Bollywood house remix.

It’s my opinion that the traditional tracks work best for Miss Pooja rather than house tracks. Pheenghan and Maape Kehndy are two classic style songs which are brilliant. There are tempo changes in Pheenghan which add interest and stop the song from getting boring.

There are two versions of Shona Shona. In the original version there is far too much going on, but after a few listens it grew on me. The love mix version is better. It’s quieter and less busy but does not work as well as the original.