Consistent hitmakers and purveyors of raw desi folk, Swann & Dings talk exclusively to Chakdey.com
You’ve just released your brand new single, “Chit Karreh”; tell us a bit about this release?
This song was actually selected over a year ago; we met Raaj-Inder when he was performing at shows and melas here in the UK. We liked his style of singing and it was through our manager Sanjeev that he approached us to do a track with him. When we heard “Chit Karreh”, we just had to do it. We loved the lyrics and knew a lot of people would relate to it. The video also suits the track very well so we would like to thank Punjeeri Media for making it accompany the song in this way.
Your past collaborators, such as Master Saleem, Nirmal Sidhu, Meet Malkit, just to name a few, all have very diverse vocal styles– how do you decide which vocalist to work with?
Sometimes we make a decision who we want to work with in advance, for example Master Saleem or Jaspinder Narula etc. When we select a song, we have a vision of whose voice will best suit the style and feel of the track. We have been lucky in the sense that whoever we have visualised to sing the song, we have– more often than not– got that singer to vocal it for us in the end. There are other occasions where singers approach us with an idea and ask us to do the music for them. If we like the idea, and the vocalist of course, we then collectively agree on how to proceed further with the track.
Your 2nd album, Poetry, which was released in 2009, was very well received. What do you think the future of full length albums is?
These days if a track doesn’t have a video then the track will not get heard properly; so if the album has a video for each track then it’s probably still worthwhile. When we release our next album, we plan to have a music video for each track. Marketing of course also plays a big part in album releases nowadays and sometimes you get a proper under-rated album that just passes by because of lack of marketing.
Your last few singles have been completely different to each other while many artists stick to just one successful formula that works for them; what’s your view on this ‘experimentation’?
Experimentation is always good and it keeps things fresh and, likewise, us on our toes! The good thing about music is that it has no boundaries– if it sounds good to us, we go with it. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with having a winning formula, i.e. “a producer’s own sound” as the listening public sometimes expect a certain style from an artist so you are appeasing these people and in that case why fix it if it isn’t broken?! Most producers have their own style and way of working.
What’s your favourite track right now?
Swann: Ammy Virk’s “Fan of Babbu Maan”; I can really relate to those lyrics and the track is based on my two favourite singers of all time.
Dings: Favorite for me right now would be Ranjit Bawa “Sadi Vaari Aun De”— a powerful vocal and excellent delivery from a top singer in Punjab at the moment.
MoneySpinner started out as a foursome, Banger left to pursue a solo career, Dav seems to have dropped off and now you’re a duo– tell us about these changes…
Banger still plays a big part in Moneyspinner, but has now come out as an artist in his own right, so it’s important that he is presented as such. Dav still plays a part behind the scenes but he made a conscious decision to step back a bit from the whole game. We are all still one team but as we get older, everyone’s path leads them a different way. Next time you interview us, there may only be one of left! (laughs)
Which of your tracks are you most proud of?
Dings: Personally for me, every release is a high point because of the effort which goes into each and every release; but the one that sticks out the most is a track which we released for Vaisakhi in 2011. The track was called “Sava Lakh”, and the response that it got was phenomenal. I think everything worked so well with that track and the icing on the cake for us was that it was the first dharmik (religious) track to ever get to the # 1 spot on the UK’s Asian Download Chart. That was a great moment for me.
Swann: That is a tough question as I am proud of all of our songs. If we were not happy with any track then we wouldn’t release it– regardless of the time we had spent on it. If I had to choose then I would say “Pangha” as it was the track that launched us.
Are there any plans to start heavily promoting your releases in India? And what do you think of the current music climate out there?
In the past, the UK was a much different market from the rest of the world. India and even other countries tend to favour western beats and tend to shy away from ‘desi’ tracks. However, we think this has started to change and the Indian market has become far more accessible for UK acts. To be a global brand/act, you have to release your tracks in India; so you will see all of our tracks also being released over there.
What was it like working with the vocals of the late Soni Pabla? And did you expect the success that project achieved?
It was amazing as he had been a favourite singer of ours for years. When we heard the sad news of his death, we, like all his fans worldwide, were in total shock. A huge talent had left us and we feel he would’ve been one of the biggest artists in the Punjabi music industry. So when we were approached to do a tribute to him we were obviously overjoyed and overwhelmed. We worked on his unreleased material and some of his classic hits to make one non-stop track. The success it achieved was huge, people across the world loved the track and we got so many amazing messages from Soni’s fans and family for which we were very grateful. The industry also showed the same love and we thank God for that unique opportunity.
How involved are you with the promotion of your material once it’s in the hands of your record label?
This is in the hands of the record label and the PR team working with them once the product is ready to be released. We would though like to thank Chakdey.com and their followers for the support and promotion we’ve had from them right from the very beginning of our career.
What’s your opinion on the official Asian Download Chart?
It’s a good measure of who’s buying what but ultimately it’s all about the longevity of a release. If a track is in the charts weeks after it was released then you know the track has done well, and so we have a positive opinion about it.
Who is the most under-rated singer out there?
There are a lot of under-rated singers out there sadly, not too many in this country but quite a few in Punjab. It’s a shame that they don’t get the platform that they deserve, but a lot has to come down to how they are marketed as well. One guy though that we have become good friends with is Bakshi Billa. He is such a humble and down to earth guy and probably the most powerful raw Punjabi voice we have heard– without a doubt he is the most under-rated singer out there today. An amazing voice…
Bhangra music– the next chapter; where do you think it’s heading?
Bhangra in the UK will always have a big say in the worldwide scene– the influences and style of music coming out of the UK is phenomenal and we can only expect bigger and better things for bhangra music. There are different types of bhangra nowadays and it has become very versatile; you have your pop, raw folk, desi and ‘Bollywood Bhangra’ (as we like to call it). All these genres have their own fans so there is always a market for bhangra music. The scene is definitely alive and kicking; and we are proud to be a part of the movement.
Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?
Dings: There are so many great artists, but one duo who I would definitely love to work with is the Nooran Sisters (of “Tung Tung” and “Patakha Guddi” fame). They both create a wicked vibe and work off each so well. Watch this space…
Swann: The king of folk Amar Singh Chamkila is no longer with us, so would have said him. As that opportunity is no longer available I would say Shreya Ghoshal. She is a fantastic vocalist and probably the biggest South Asian female singer in the world.
The new single “Chit Karreh” feat. Raaj-Inder is out now on VIP Records. Find out where to buy here