When Rhythm Dhol Bass (RDB) hit the UK bhangra scene in the last decade of the 20th century, the genre was still in its infancy. The brothers Surj, Manj and Kully deserve due credit and recognition for this genre evolving in the recent years.
Their albums RDB, Unstoppable, Three and compilations Danger 2, 3, Urban Flavas and Heavy literally shook dance floors everywhere. The trio has been part of Bollywood ventures like Singh is Kinng, De Dhana Dhan and other Akshay Kumar starrers. In the western hemisphere, they have collaborated with heavyweights such as Ludacris and Snoop Dogg.
Today, the band is just as popular in Pakistan and plans to visit it in 2012. Images on Sunday caught up with the trio regarding their music, the UK bhangra scene, a recent controversy involving Sahara and a whole lot more.
Q. Did you ever think you would make it so big, coming from a small town and all?
Surj: Never did we ever imagine that we would be where we are today. We always had a passion for music and the knack to entertain from a very young age. It’s great to know that our hard work and determination for music has got us this far, and we thank our fans for bringing our journey to this stage.
Q. Do you consider yourselves the pioneers of the UK bhangra scene?
Surj: I wouldn’t say pioneers as there are several other veterans who are the real pioneers and who brought bhangra to the UK. To have contributed to this and to have globalised our music to a worldwide stage has been an honour and a great opportunity.
Manj: The UK bhangra scene is always changing and is quite distinct from traditional genres. The art combines western and urban rhythms with a strong Punjabi undertone.
Q. UK bhangra touched its zenith in the early 2000s with RDB, Rishi Rich, Jay Sean, Gubi Saandhu creating chart-toppers.
What is it presently like?
Kully: The music industry is always expanding and there’s so much talent still to be recognised. Old will always be gold and we love good music. Change is bound to happen within the competitive industry but it all comes down to originality.
Q. Who are the promising upcoming artistes?
Manj: There are so many new talents from all kinds of backgrounds emerging into the urban bhangra scene; they all have their own originality and talent.
Q. How has it been like to perform and compose for Bollywood. Best project and best Indian artiste?
Manj: Mindblowing. It has taken us to an altogether different level in terms of composing and performing songs, and we worked with various musicians across the globe.
Surj: The best project would have to be Singh is Kingg with Snoop Dogg which set the benchmark for Bollywood international music collaborations, and best Indian artiste would be Akshay Kumar.
Q. How do you choose movies projects?
Surj: They choose us mainly.
Q. How did the collaborations with Ludicrous, Snoop Dogg and other western heavyweights come by?
Manj: After our music propagated in the West and collaborations with Bollywood came about, we found it quite easy to connect with new artistes and make music history.
Surj: We like to give everyone the opportunity at some stage, but we tend to keep a keen ear to who has that additional X factor.
Q. You have been performing in Pakistan frequently after your first performance in 2010. How do you find the crowd?
Manj: We performed in Pakistan only once in 2010 and the experience was just epic. The Pakistan crowd gave us immense love and support. It was odd to find out that Sahara started performing in Pakistan by pretending to be us. We believe in originality and of course we would like to create awareness among our fans in Pakistan.
Sahara doesn’t even perform RDB tracks. The only way to tackle this problem is for music lovers and fans to check on our website and Facebook pagesto confirm our shows (www.facebook.com/rdbmusic), and for promoters to contact artistes directly as they do in the UK. Pakistan fans have every right to see the real RDB.
Q. How important is MC-ing (microphone controlling) in bhangra music?
Surj: When we started out, UK garage music was at the forefront; nowadays it has develop more into rapping.
Q. How do you respond to the allegation that UK bhangra has now become monotonous with the same tunes and themes?
Surj: Everyone has their own opinion about the UK bhangra industry. Good music still exists within the bhangra scene and there’s still a lot more to come from the newer generation. The industry is evolving.
We always set bigger and higher goals for ourselves. Every track is important in its own unique way and the way we see it, if even one person likes our track, our job is done.
Q. Your future albums, collaborations, Bollywood and Hollywood projects?
Manj: The year 2012 has a lot in store for us in terms of more Bollywood films and mainstream collaborations. We also have a new album coming out, Worldwide. It will feature collaborations between the East and the West with songs in English, Urdu, Hindi, and most important of all, Punjabi. The message behind Worldwide is to reach out to people across the world using a variety of music genres and tracks.