Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Interview With Tigerstyle Part 2

Read part 1 of the interview here. 
You’ve grown up in Glasgow where the Asian community is small. Has this affected the music you make? Would you have made less radical music had you grown up in the bhangra bubble that is Birmingham?
Raj:I think where we grew up has something to do with it because we weren’t surrounded by pop bhangra when we were younger. We were surrounded by traditional music that our dad or our chacha was listening to. Our older cousins weren’t really into bhangra music. Most of the music that they were listening to was pop, dance, rock. Being bit removed from the hub of the Asian population in Britain has put us in a position where we’ve not got drawn into trends.

Pops:In our school we were the only Punjabi kids. Your friend circle is not just Asian or Punjabi. The influences you get from people around you, the type of music you encountered going out and socialising, isn’t bhangra.

R:When you are in an area where there is a large Asian population, I don’t think you have to develop a strong identity for yourself. Being at schools and universities where there weren't many Asians, meant that we had to be strong in our own personality and our own identity and I think that comes through in our music. The music that we make has its own unique identity in itself. I think that comes from us as people.

There are websites and magazines that wouldn’t write about Desi music which have picked up on the singles. What can fans of other music genres get out of bhangra?

P:We’ve built relationships with DJs and producers from different genres that we follow and we’ve invited them to remix our work. The original tracks that we’ve made borrow different concepts and sounds from these genres. We have DJs from all across the world who are receiving our promos, giving us feedback as well as going out and playing our music. We are trying to get bhangra out there further than where it’s gone before. People that would not necessarily come across bhangra music or listen to it, we are giving them an entry into the scene but in a format that is more accessible.

R:I think dubstep bhangra or more electronic bhangra has its place. It has Punjabi vocals on it but if it was played in the middle of a dance set in the middle of Europe where English isn’t the main language I’m sure most people would appreciate it in exactly the same way they would appreciate a dance track that’s in English.

Do you feel the pressure?
P:The pressure’s on. It all comes down to the fact that we’ve become independent now so and we are not approaching it from that business mind. We’re doing it because we want to do it, we are taking risks with the videos. Ik Banere was not a normal video. There will be a few more videos where we will try new ideas because we want to be different. We have creativity, we have new ideas. We are going to go for it with this album. We are at that stage in our career that we can’t rely on the labels and we can't just approach it from a business point of view because we become run of the mill and its not a Tigerstyle thing anymore.

R:Labels and even certain artists that you work with have their own agenda. Everyone is looking at you and thinking whats the benefit that I’m going to get. With this album, it hasn’t been about trying to get tracks from big names so that we are benefiting from somebody else’s success. It’s about making good music and seeing what it does and how people appreciate it. It's the fans and their appreciation that takes them to new heights. Maybe bhangra fans or the way bhangra is consumed has changed or the setting that songs are played in has changed. But it just feels like anything that has had a lot thought and effort put into it just goes over people's heads. Whereas something that is very generic just hits the mark. Its annoying for people who are actually creative and put a lot of effort and thought into what they are doing.

As producers, what do you look for in a vocalist?

R:Someone who can hold a note and sing properly. Every vocalist on there can sing very capably. There is not one person on our album that is a sh*t singer, who is only in it because have financial backing. RK Mendhi  has been trained by the same people who trained Daler Mendhi and Mika Singh. He’s toured with Sardool Sikander, he’s a capable singer but he hasn’t been able to fund himself. In Punjab 90 % of the stuff on TV is by people that have spare cash. They just want to be famous. That’s the way it’s going here. A lot of people that are in the game are people that aren’t in it because they are musicians - they have funding and want to be on TV. A lot don’t even make their music - they pay someone else, get their track produced, pay for a video and then they are supposedly the biggest artist in bhangra. They’ve got their road show that has got bookings that’s their business. Fair enough. but don’t then start fronting as if you’re an actual producer.

With our songs the vocal doesn’t lead it, the vocal inspires us and we place the vocal in our music the way we want to. Kudi was a traditionally arranged traditionally composed track. At some point we’ll release the original recording of it. It’s completely different from the way we’ve arranged it in the song.

You’ve supported lots of up and coming producers, artists and video makers during Digi-Bhang. Why work with them instead of more established people?
P:We like being creative and connect with other Asians that are trying to do something different. I came across Inkquisitive on facebook. He’d worked with some Asian hiphop artists but he hadn’t projected himself as much as he has now after featuring in the Ik Banere video. He put me in touch with Mad Tatter who shot that video. It was a good experience, it was a good video and we got a lot of good feedback. It gave us a bit of encouragement as well that we'd made a good choice to be so bold and do something different. If we are working with other younger creative Asian people who are looking for a break then good things that can come of it.

R:Bollywood and bhangra are the two main genres that everyone listens to, nobody pays attention to anything else. They might follow an Asian comedian on youtube or see a bit of art. These people don’t get the exposure that they should. Inkquisitive is hugely talented but he would just be sitting in the shadows until somebody gave him a chance to make the Asian population aware of what he is doing. A lot of people are ignorant of creative people that are from an Asian background, like Mad Tatter and Narvision. A lot of people won't have even come across their stuff until they’ve done something that is more commercial or mainstream.

With every album you reinvent yourselves and take your music in a different direction. People don’t know what to expect. What are you going to do next?
R:We don’t really have a plan and when we did this album we didn’t really have a plan, it just happened. While we were making it we made up the name and then just started pushing it. The fact that we've been breaking off from a record label gave us 100% more confidence because we are putting ourselves out there and saying this is the music that we make. We are not thinking how many wedding bookings we are getting from it - that’s not how we’ve approached music and that’s why other record labels  and artists don’t really understand us. We are doing it because we want to do it.

P:As recordings happen and as tracks come together it will just organically happen by itself. There will be certain concepts and ideas that we have while working on material. We are still here after 13 years and we are stronger now than when we first started out. We didn’t have a clue when we started out and we still don’t have a clue now! So many good avenues have opened up for us from making the music we want to make. We are working with some of the great musicians from the Bombay film industry. They appreciate the ideas that go into our music, that’s why they’ve approached us. They don’t want a bhangra sound, they want Tigerstyle. I don’t really feel good saying it but we’ve gone past being bhangra producers and it doesn’t feel right to say it and that’s why we’ve re-branded the music that we make. Digi-Bhang is a brand new sound, it’s what we make, what we are putting out there.

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