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DJ Harvey on Birmingham, bhangra & beyond

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We talk to the man behind one of this summer’s biggest floor fillers, Anparh Desi


Your current single, “Anparh Desi” feat. Saini Surinder and Jaswinder Jassi, is turning out to be one of the big tracks of the summer; tell us how it came about? 

The concept for the track came from something I experienced at a Punjabi wedding where I overheard a lady calling her husband an ‘anparh desi’ because he was eating samose with his hands and not using his knife and fork! (laughs) This phrase got stuck in my head so as soon as I got home I called my good friend Amarjit Musapuria in Canada with an idea for a duet song based on this. We literally started writing the lyrics for the song there and then. Selecting the vocalist for this project was also then decided overnight. I’d been following Saini Surinder for a long time and I’m a big fan of his music. I felt his high pitch folk style would really complement the composition. For the female vocalist Jaswinder Jassi I felt she had a desi rawness in her voice which also had a cheeky tone, plus the right amount of attitude to carry the track off. These two vocalists made a perfect match for the duet. I already had a good idea for the vibe I wanted to create with the music, so I kept it traditional with the dhol, tumbi, tumba and vaja with a hint of a reggae style bassline. I’m really happy with the response the track has had.


The video was shot in Punjab earlier this year; how involved are you in the initial concepting of your videos? And what can you tell us about the actual shoot?

In the past I didn’t know much about video concepts as I was new to the game so I would just leave it to the directors but with this video I played a big part in the direction of the video and also performing in the video.  I also selected all the actors, dancers, locations and even lighting and cameras. The concept for the video was created by Verve Music and filmed by Sai Smith. The whole thing took us about 15 hours or shooting.


There have been sizeable time gaps between your more recent releases; was that intentional?

Yes this was intentional; I have a weakness which some say is a strength which is that I am a perfectionist! I took some time out to travel and learn a bit more about Punjabi music and also discover more about myself.  On top of that I have been very busy with DJ roadshow and touring the world with Jaz Dhami as his official tour DJ.


A lot of DJs who turn to producing music get a lot of flak for using producers and sound engineers to achieve the sound they want. What’s your view on that?

This is how I see at it– everyone has a dream to do something or be something and if they’re getting that help to create their music then I say good luck to them.


You’ve been building up your reputation as one the most in-demand DJs on the Asian scene in the UK; what’s the biggest challenge a successful DJ working in that industry faces today? 

I have over ten years’ experience as a DJ and have catered for all kinds of events from Asian weddings, proms, charity events and of course nightclubs.  Today there is a great deal of competition; however this can be overcome if you’re passionate about what you do and have a thorough understanding of your clientele and what they expect from you for their particular event.

There seems to be a recurring craze for ‘tribute’ tracks; you did your own Bindrakhia one a couple of years ago (with Nirmal Sidhu on vocals). These generally become hits but also invariably face a backlash from some quarters; what’s your opinion on remaking classic material?

I’ve grown up listening to many phenomenal artists such as Surjit Bindrakhia, Surinder Shinda, Kuldip Manak and many more and the feeling they give me with their singing, lyrics and music is amazing so for me it’s important to re-introduce these legendary old skool vocalists to younger generations. Unfortunately, a backlash will always be with anything you do in life so it’s not something I worry about too much. Do it, but do it big!


Both you and your brother, Jaz Dhami, are part of Sanchez Productions; for those that don’t know, fill us in on this company and what they do exactly?

Sanchez Productions was formed in 2009 specifically to release Jaz’s debut album and soon after that my own album. Since the success the releases achieved, the label has gone from strength to strength is now established worldwide and continue to release vibrant music and quality music videos.


Mainly thanks to his collaboration with Honey Singh on “High Heels”, Jaz has started making inroads into the Indian market. Do you think the Indian market is a tough one to crack when you’re based here and releasing material primarily on UK labels?

India is a huge country with of course a great ethnic diversity and varied tastes in music, so yes it’s very hard to crack the market, especially being an artist from the UK but Jaz was lucky enough to collaborate with Honey and this helped him build his own fanbase in the Indian market and further solidify his reputation worldwide.


You’ve featured very established singers on your releases such as Jaswinder Daghamia, Javed Bashir and of course Miss Pooja on your debut single; do you have any plans to release a single with a new or unknown vocalist?

Maybe in the future but right now it’s about working with established vocalists from around the world and trying different styles of bhangra and Punjabi music.


For our readers around the world and in a few lines, describe the bhangra scene in Birmingham as it stands today?

Birmingham is a very vibrant city and it’s fair to say the best of the best bhangra artists, such as Jazzy B, Jaz Dhami and countless others, are based there. And the good thing is that these big artists are mentoring the younger generation to listen to bhangra music all around the UK and the world.  Many of the singers, writers, music producers, DJs and musicians in Birmingham are doing an amazing job keeping this music alive and relevant today.


Your downtempo single “Tere Naal” had a very Bollywood feel to it; what’s your opinion on current Bollywood music?

I enjoy all kinds of Bollywood music from the classic old stuff to the new skool; slow songs such as “Tum Hi Ho” to the more up tempo dance tracks such “Baby Doll”. I can safely say there’s nothing I dislike about that varied type of music.


Your father Vicar Dhami was a vocalist for 80s bhangra band Sangam; what’s the best “golden age of bhangra” story he’s ever told you?

My father has many memories and stories about the period of bhangra music but the one that is most memorable for me is when my father started playing with the legendary Bhujhangy Group and how they used to travel to functions in a Cortina with their vaja, dholki, mandolin, speakers plus as many band member as they could cram in.  This just shows how much dedication and commitment they gave to bhangra music!


Finally, it’s been two years since your debut album released; will you stick to singles now like so many other acts, or are there still plans to release a follow up album?

My debut album was an introduction for myself on the music scene in 2011 and since then a lot has changed; as we all know these days it’s important to release a single with a music video. So for the moment I’ll be releasing a few singles over the year with music videos and maybe even an album in the near future. Also watch out for my DJ sample cd which will be out soon.

 Anparh Desi, feat. Saini Surinder and Jaswinder Jassi, is out now on Sanchez Productions. Click here to buy

Check the full music video here

Article Categories:
Bhangra · Interviews · News

Music Mad, Bhangra Addict, Film Buff, Health Freak. Calls London home.

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