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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » The Relevance of Bhangra for Indian electronic music…


The Relevance of Bhangra for Indian electronic music…

Delivered... IE-mAdmin | IEm News | Wed 3 Feb 2010 7:41 pm

Author: ElJay Arem

ElJay Arem during the show on 2nd February 2010

ElJay Arem during the show on 2nd February 2010

(IE-m/HH -03022010) – After the premiere of Indian E-music in January (01/05/10) with an excursion through the first 10 years of Indian electronic music from 1996 to 2005 I would like to undertake today a trip to the Punjab. This region lies in the border area between North Western India and Pakistan. In the 70’s the Folk and Dance music of the Punjab were exported into the West, first to London (U.K.). From there come musicians who founded a new music genre: Bhangra.

Bhangra had relevant influence onto the development and the sound of Indian electronic music in the 80’s and 90’s, and still has.

UK Bhangra… Post Bhangra era…
Channi Singh is called within his fan community and among music colleagues as the “God father of the Bhangra”; Channi was front man (singer) of the group Alaap. The Alaap Group published its debut album “Teri Chunni De Sitaray” in the year 1982. Particularly This music appealed to the British students with origin from Asia.

The UK Bhangra continued with the group Heera, which played in England as the most popular band of the 80’s usually on Indian weddings. The style of this group with mix of Western drums, rock influenced rhythms, Synthesizer and traditional instruments from the Punjab region considerably contributed to a new identification and community within the South Asian diaspora in England. Groups from this time as Apna Sangeet, which found together in 2009 for a re-union experience a revival particularly as live acts.

An important figure of the Bhangra scene was born in Delhi and has grown up in Birmingham in a quarter, which was coined by black rap, Motown culture and Soul music (U.K.). Its the Folkhop artist Bally Sagoo.

Midth of the 90’s, which one can designate as post Bhangra era, both in England and USA this style lost it’s popularity. Bally Saggo and formations like Apache Indian triggered a new wave in the club culture: the combination of traditional Folk beats and South Asian / Indian instruments with contemporary music.

Bally Sagoo creates a kind of Bollywood remix with funky Jazzy touch, while Apache Indian – coming from a traditional Bhangra background – combines Raggamuffin music, a sub culture of the Reggae, which is sampled with electronic music.

The Bhangra instrument: DHOL – key figure: Johnny Kalsi…
As the post bhangra era began in the middle of the 90’s with inclusion of contemporary music at the same time the artistic space for the Indian-electronic music came into existence.

In our premiere (01/05/2010) I presented the musician Talvin Singh and his compilation album “Anokha – to Soundz OF the Asian Underground” published in the year 1997. We can date the years 1996/1997 as the beginning of the so called „Asian Underground movement“, which is valid from its cultural mix as the source of the Indian electronic music.

These days the Drummer Johnny Kalsi cavorted in London. Kalsi had been away on music business already end of the 80’s with Bhangra as member of the Alaap Group with the front man Channi Singh. Later in 1989 Johnny Kalsi created in London the Dhol Drum Institute.

The Dhol is a bass drum. It is „stringed“ reciprocally and beaten with two sticks. The penetrating beats of the Dhols gives an unmistakable character to the Bhangra music since midth of the 90’s beside different Indian stringed instruments are typical like the Sarangi or the Tumbi, a one-string instrument in the folk music of the Punjab, which is very difficult to play.

Johnny Kalsi published with the students of his institute in 2001 the CD „Big Drum Small World” (label: Shakti record). Later this music was introduced into Hollywood films like “Incredible Hulk”. Johnny Kalsi worked already end of the 80’s for the film industry, together with Peter Gabriel he composed the film score for Martin Scorsese’s “Last Temptation of Christ”. Their music was played also for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in the year 2006.

The leap towards Indian electronic music Johnny Kalsi managed as a member and Dhol player of Transglobal Underground. Transglobal Underground – or simply TGU is a fusion of Western, Eastern and African elements, sometimes classified as the category „Ethno Techno“. TGU is an important cornerstone of Indian electronic music with the Sitar player Sheema Mukherjee and Larry Whelan on the Shenai (Indian fiddel). As a musician collective TGU was created in the year 1990 by Alex Kasiek, Hamid Mantu and Count Dubulah. In this music scene frequently aliases are used. These names stand for Tim Whelan – Percussion, Hamilton Lee – guitar and the bassists Nick Page. Whelan and Lee originally come from the Brit Pop.

Newcomer…
The musicians presented till now are the top league of Bhangra, central figures usually with Indian origin such as Channi Singh or Johnny Kalsi who may be ranked among the older generation. How does it face of the musical new generation?

The Indian Bhangra singer Malkit Singh, born 1962 in Hussainpur (Punjab) is world-wide an Indian export hit of Bhangra. Singh is also a carrier of the newcomers like for the Rishi Rich Project and the British Indian musician Panjabi MC.

First about Rishi Rich… this musician and producer with civil name “Rishpal Singh Rekhi” was born in Croydon, England and resides today in London. He is the pioneer for Indian R&B apart from his activities in the Asian Underground. Rishi Rich is active since 1992 discovering as „headhunter of music“a multiplicity of British-Asian talents. Herefore at the beginning of 2003 the Rishi Rich Project was launched. Fastely it was established in the Asian Underground scene. 2007 was founded the Rishi Rich Productions Ltd. in order to take new generation artists under contract.

Some of the outstanding talents with concrete Bhangra impact who became active under the wings of Rishi Rich are the R&B rapper Jay Sean and Juggy D. Jugwinder Sing Dhaliwal is on stage since his 14th year of life. He delivered together with Rishi Rich tunes for Bollywood films such as Hum Tum. The debut album Juggy D was published in 2004.

Jay Sean originates from a Sikh family, which emigrated from the Punjab. Sean was born 1981 in West London. He is established as rapper, singer, songwriter and beat boxer. Jay Sean gave his debut in the Asian Underground as a member of the Rishi Rich Projects with the single “Dance with to You” in 2003. For his Bhangra R&B Fusion style he is favored particularly within the South Asian diaspora.

The Bhangra star Malkit Singh has promoted Panjabi MC beside the Rishi Rich Project. With civil name Rajinde Singh this artist came to prominence by his remixes. Panjabi MC puts together the sound of Bhangra and Hip Hop. World-wide he received attention together with the American rapper Jay-Z. In Germany the label “Superstar Recordings” picked up Panjabi MC’s remix for the TV series “Knight Rider” which became a hit.

Tradition & Modern trend…
The Bhangra singer “Jazzy B” closes the circle between modernity and tradition. Like hardly another this artist – 1975 in India born and grown up in Vancover – succeeds the balance between progressiveness and recollection the traditions in Bhangra.

On his offcial website “Jazzy B” calls himself as the “Crown Prince of the Bhangra”. We let unacknowledged the question if this might be only a marketing strategy.

Certain however is that Jazzy B recorded more than 17 studio albums since 1993, two of it are with religious topics. As his role model Jazzy B names Kuldeep Manak. This 61 year old singer who was trained in the traditional form of the Punjabi vocals, the Kaliyan, is till today very active. Kuldeep Manak already published his first LP “Ek Tara” in the year 1976. It is not astonishing that there is hardly no musician of the new generation in Bhangra who does not preserve large admiration for Kuldeep Manak as he is acclaimed in equal measure to his younger colleagues.

Take notice: The next broadcasting of Indian E-music is set for 1st Tuesday, 2nd March at 09:00 pm on Tide 96.0 FM and via Internet stream.

Are you interested in Indian classical music ? – IMC – India meets Classic is scheduled every 3rd Tuesday in the month, same time. Next show: 16th February 201009:00 pm (via Internet stream).

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