- You’ve always been involved in the music scene from a young age. You used to create cassettes and CDs of mix tapes in school and sell them to your peers. What was it that inspired your love of music and composition and encouraged you to get into the industry?
I feel as if there wasn’t something in particular that inspired me, but I always felt as if it was something I had to do. It was just a matter of trying to find a way to enter the industry. I remember meeting people and around that time we’d press up our vinyls and take them to HMV on Oxford Street. Around that time garage culture was really big, and if a Vinyl was popular they’d play it in the clubs. I was kind of analyzing how that worked and I translated that into making my own CDs and just pushing my own music out so that I could build a name for myself.
- What inspires you when writing your music, where do your ideas come from?
It all depends on the song – sometimes it’s an idea in my head or an imaginary concept, such as me thinking: “what would it be like to write a song if I was in a certain situation?” But I would say the majority of the stuff I write is a reflection on something I’ve gone through or am experiencing.
- A couple of months ago you released your latest album Glass Ceiling. Could you describe the overall theme of the album and the concept behind it?
I feel like I’ve been in the industry and making music for a long time – over 10 years. I was building the foundation for where I am now, and I just wanted to level up – literally break through a glass ceiling. So the concept of the album was to create songs that would allow me to reach a wider audience and connect to more people.
- The song ‘Yamla Jatt’ is a little bit different to your other tracks. It’s got that slow, melodic vibe to it. It’s a bit more serious but overall the rap and RnB style beat makes it easy to get into. What has the response been to the track so far?
The song was a bit of a risk to produce because you don’t hear others like it too often anymore. It has three rap verses, whereas most other songs now days only have around two verses. It has an old school type of vibe to it as it was inspired by the singer Yamla Jatt. He used to sing about real-life issues in a narration style, telling an account of the events happening around him and about people’s everyday situations. Therefore, the song was my own-take on doing that but in a modern 21st century context. People have connected to the song a lot. Again, I felt as though it was a risky track because there isn’t anything commercial about it, but it has received a good response, which is a testament to people wanting music that’s real and honest.
- You’ve also got Pav Dharia featuring alongside you on the track. How do you think his Punjabi singing and your English rapping work well together? Would you say he brings more of a Desi style to the song, while you try and maintain that Urban/Indian mix?
Me and Pav have worked on a few songs together now, we have a good working relationship. I sent the song consisting of my pre-recorded verses to Pav, he loved it and created his own parts for it. I think we made a good combination for the track. We have done a bunch of different songs together but this is one of the more serious ones but we have some fun tracks as well. Overall I think we work well together and compliment each-other greatly.
- Some of the lyrics you feature in your music are quite deep, and mention your hostile attitude towards fame, and the struggles of being under scrutiny from audiences as an artist. Do you think that’s one of the things that makes you quite different as a singer, that you can talk about the dark side of being in the industry so openly?
I think that’s for other people to decide – for me it’s always about being honest and talking about things from a point of view where people can understand what it’s really like being in the music industry a little bit more. I have conversations with people who don’t necessarily see the other side of working in this field because it’s seen as so overly glamorous all the time. I love people who are real in their music and talk about things you can connect to, so I just want to do the same with my own sound.
- What was it like working alongside Rajeev B and Mickey Singh for the single ‘Signs’ and was it a good collaborative experience?
Yeah, that was a fun project that we did together. It was a long time in the making because me and Mickey actually met back in 2014. We discussed working together and it took a while because of our obligations towards managing our busy work and travelling schedules. However, I really enjoyed the project and I think it was something unique to the Asian music scene.
- Who are some of your favourite artists?
Definitely everyone who I’ve worked with so far I’m a big fan of, and the artists who feature alongside me on mew album. So people like Arjun, Prophecy, Pav, Mickey Singh, Zack Knight, Mumzie. I’m loving what these new guys are doing as well; Nish, Ezu. I think there’s a lot of talent I’m really excited about right now that’s coming out in the music scene.
- Which cities is the Glass Ceiling tour coming to?
We’re actually still arranging that – we had a launch party in London and one upcoming in New York as well. I am performing in London at the beginning of December too but we’re still finalizing the rest of the upcoming dates and venues.
- Are there any new and upcoming projects you’re working on at the moment?
There’s a lot more music and upcoming collaborations that I’ve got in the works right now. I can’t say too much right now, but it’s all about Glass Ceiling at the moment.
By Manisha Bhanot