Chakdey.Com interview Randy Jassal, on the back of his successful album launch we ask him about Notorious Jatt, the Canadian music scene, the vocalists he worked with, issues that affect Asian Music, what his future holds and much more! Check Out what went down right here!
A couple of years ago Notorious Jatt hit the scene. 1 million hits and thousands of legal free downloads later (with Chakdey.com being the first site to host it), did you expect such a huge reaction? If not, when did you first realize that you had created an anthem?
To be honest I had no idea that ‘Notorious Jatt’ would get such a large response. Around that time of releasing the song I had shopped my album to a few different labels in both Canada and the UK and wasn’t getting much in terms of any offer. It actually was discouraging especially to have many labels in the beginning not believe in my sound or vision for the album. Many labels just shrugged it off and said that I needed to come back with some more commercial or some outright said they did not like my sound.
In the end, I am not trying to sound like a guy with a major ego or anything but to have my one song receive over one million plus legit views on YouTube without any sort of a music video or major label support is a pretty surreal feeling.
I think when I first realized that I had created a hit was when BBC Asian Network and the Friction Show spotlighted me as “Artist of the Week” for my song ‘Notorious Jatt‘ and it was definitely a major honour to be put on radio and to be interviewed by someone like Bobby Friction.
Actually I lied, I realized that I had made hit song when I walked into a local shop and sure enough my track Notorious Jatt was being sold as a single for $2.99 … Ha Ha Ha. Imagine that bootleg singles being sold for such an outrageous price when the song was a free download!
If we remember correctly it was also voted as Best Free Download of 2011 via our website. Why do you think the track had such a vast appeal?
I had no idea the song was voted as the best free download of 2011, that’s a pretty amazing accomplishment. Respect to all the loyal fans who voted for my song.
I think part of the reason the song had such a vast appeal to not just the Canadian market but all over the world including UK and India was simply put it was a “Free Download!” By making the song a free download it allowed us to reach audiences we would not have been able to if it was put up for sale on Itunes etc. Also I think part of it was the music and the lyrical content. When I was putting that song together I wanted to do something different that would blend my various tastes in music and just bring something unique to the market. In the end I think it was just the right mix of everything that made the song into what it has become today.
Your album received great acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic; if you were given 5 minutes to showcase it to the World’s entire population which track would you play?
If I was given 5 minutes to showcase my album I think it would have to be ‘Jatt Dil Da Burna Ni’ sung by the Late Kaka Bhainiawala. In my opinion that song musically and the vocals by Kaka are just on point! It’s definitely one of those songs that you can just keep listening back to over and over again and not get bored listening to it. Also I think ‘Jatt Di Da Burna Ni‘ represents pretty well what my sound is which is keeping it desi but giving it that modern twist so it appeals to everyone.
Do you find it difficult gathering everything you need to make an album with your location? What are the advantages of creating music in North America?
I think being in Canada works in my advantage, at least. As some people may know I have been involved in the live circuit for quite some time and it has allowed me to build relationships with some amazing artists. Given that in Toronto and Vancouver there are a number of live mela’s that take place year around and I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to play at them and it has really given me that experience that I think sets me apart from other producers.
I think also the sound in North America is a lot more traditional than what you would see in UK and that’s what my style is so I think it works perfectly for me. In addition I was fortunate to visit India on a number of occasions and learn from some of the most respected musicians that India had to offer and meet a number of the singers on the album face to face to get that sound that I wanted.
How did you hook up with Hi-Tech Music for the distribution?
Well to be honest I was at my end when it came to this album before Hi Tech came along. As I mentioned earlier I did not have the easiest time shopping my album to various labels and pretty much kept getting the run around. My manager Sandeep Minhas was fortunate enough to get in touch with Amrit AMX an artist who is signed to Hi Tech.
Through my management and AMX I was able to negotiate a deal that worked out for both parties. Chino and everyone at Hi Tech have been very accommodating and have provided the necessary support and resources I needed to see the release of the album.
In hindsight would you change anything about the album or promotion if given the chance?
I think if I could change anything about my album it would be making sure that as the album was getting produced I would have got everything in writing and not been so trusting. As everyone knows there is a lot of politics and sneaky behaviour in the bhangra industry and my album was no stranger to this. The amount of headache that comes about when a singer gets impatient that you do not release song within their schedule has to be the most frustrating thing.
But this album in a sense has been a blessing as it has taught me so much not just in terms of music but dealing with everything else that comes with the territory. More specifically being careful who you give your sample cd to, as my original edit of my album was leaked all over the internet and was bootlegged all over.
In terms of promotion I guess it would have been nice to fly into the UK and India and personally launch the albums myself but given that it isn’t feasible in this market right now I cannot complain. The world of social media (i.e Youtube, Facebook, Twitter) has come so far that it is important for promoting any sort release now. Whether this is a good thing or bad thing that is just how the industry is now and something all artists are focusing on.
Any vocalists that you would like to work with in the future?
As far working with any vocalists in the future, I am open to working with anyone. But if I had the opportunity I would love to work with Kamal Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Lehmber Hussainpuri. These guys are amazing vocalists and it would be a big honour to get them in the studio personally and record with them.
Did you have the opportunity to meet the Late Kaka Bhaniawala for his track or did you get hold of them through a contact?
Great question! I actually had the opportunity to meet the Late Kaka Bhaniawala on one of my trips to India. Really what can be said about the guy that already has not been said or heard before? He was fantastic talent and has been dearly missed. It still amazes me to this day how much material Kaka managed to record in such a short time! But I am also glad to say I have 2 other songs that I personally recorded with Kaka that will be releasing on a future project of mine that is in the pipeline.
Also make sure everyone keeps an eye out for my bro AMX who had an amazing relationship with Kaka and trust me when I say this he is sitting on some unreal material including videos that the two had worked on before Kaka’s untimely passing.
On that note I would also like to take a moment to mention the Late Tejinder Singh who also featured on my album on the track ‘Nachdi!‘ Tejinder was a fantastic singer and highly respected teacher in Punjab. His passing was a great shock to me and many others. Tejinder was a great help when I first entered the industry and without his help I would not have been able to get to the position I am in today.
What was it like working with Surinder Shinda? On the album Notorious, you revisit a classic from Jeona Morh. Why did you choose to remake a tune rather than issue a new lyrical product?
I actually never directly worked with Surinder Shinda on ‘Jeona Morh‘. My management was able to arrange me getting this vocal from Hi Tech Music as they have a large back catalogue of recordings. Surinder Shinda is a legend and it was definitely an honour to have his vocals on my album and when the opportunity presented itself I jumped at it. Also a few months before my album released I actually played live with Surinder Shinda at a few shows and had his blessings to release my re-make of Jeona Morh so that was important myself.
Notorious Jatt was originally sung by Prabh Gill, however the sequel has been sung by a new singer Harry Sandhu. Have you had a conflict of interest with Prabh or did you feel that you wanted to give part 2 of Notorious Jatt a new direction?
Yes Harry Sandhu aka H Sandhu is a fantastic talent and more importantly an honest and hardworking person. I have nothing but love and respect for him as we make a great team and keep it locked here we have a lot of material coming out in 2013. But back to ‘Notorious Jatt 2′ I wanted to change it up a little and H Sandhu and myself sat down and put this track together. The response has been unbelievable and I am proud to announce two videos featuring H Sandhu and I will be releasing very shortly, one for ‘Yaaran Naal‘ and one for ‘Notorious Jatt 2‘.
Who were your favourite producers before getting into the industry?
For me it has to be Punjabi Mc he is just too talented and has been responsible for a countless number of hits. It would be an honour to jam and be in the studio with someone who has accomplished so much and pushed the industry to new heights!
What is your favourite Punjabi album of all time? (We’re always interested in knowing an artist’s absolute favourite).
That is a really tough question as I have quite a few favourite albums. I’ll get back to you guys on that one once I have decided on my all time favourite…Ha Ha!
“Notorious Jatt” and “Yaar Anmulle,” produced by fellow Canadian Nick Dhammu, were two of the biggest hits of 2011. With the success of these Canadian produced tunes, what are your thoughts on the current Canadian Bhangra scene?
The Canadian bhangra scene is definitely one that is alive and on the rise in my opinion. There is such a wealth of talent here and it’s finally starting to emerge. This is part of the reason why I have my own company Randy J Media which I have set up along with my management team in order to showcase some of Canada’s best hidden talent. I think 2013 will be a big year in general for Canada’s bhangra scene as there are a number of singers and producers they are ready to drop some big projects!
Do you feel that it is more difficult for Canadian artists to establish themselves in the global Punjabi music industry?
In terms of establishing ourselves I do not think so. Canada’s market is quite big and the potential is there for it to take it to the next level so long as everyone works together in a positive manner.
Lastly, what does the future hold for Randy Jassal? And any final messages..
Well for 2013 I have a number of projects in the works in terms of solo projects and feature on a number other projects including production for some established singers and compilation projects as well. Make sure you keep an eye out for Folk Magic 2 a massive compilation CD featuring some big talent from all over the world! I’m sure you will be getting the press release about the project soon.
Finally I would just like to thank everyone at Chakdey.Com for all their support over the years from my first release “Charka” to my debut CD “Notorious” without websites like yours we as artists would not be anywhere. Lastly a major shout out to all those who have supported me over years including my management team, friends and family and most importantly my FANS!
Thank You for taking part in the interview and best of luck in the promotion of Notorious and your future releases!