This past week Jovan had the chance to catch up with local music producer Patwant Singh, who has worked with various artists throughtout the years and is ready to release his new track with another local vocalist M Dhadwal.
As a music producer, what challenges do you face in the making the music?
The challenges that I faced were mainly time and geography. Time because here in Canada, everyone has different commitments and priorities with different schedules; it’s not always an easy task getting the whole team in the studio at the same time to get a project going. Sometimes I’d have my work ready, but I would have to accommodate differing time periods for the vocalist, musicians, etc. to submit their parts for the project. This pushes back the project completion.
Working with other artists in Canada can prove difficult at times because the country is geographically very large. It’s not like in the UK or Punjab when an artist can drive an hour to a studio etc. to get their vocals recorded. An example is: I’m located in Edmonton - to work with an artist in Toronto, the artist or myself have to fly 4 hours, or drive for a few days. It’s not feasible all the time with schedule constraints.
But now I use the Internet to share and receive recordings of different musicians from studios that I partner with around the world - Edmonton doesn’t have a huge community of specialty musicians (flute players, sarangi players, etc.). With the advancement of the Internet, it's easier to share files needed for projects without needing to be in the same location. Thank you Internet! However, the vibe and quality control I have of working with anyone in-person and in my own studio is on a whole other level. That’s where the magic happens.
You have worked with artists such as Manj from the formerly known RDB in the past, what was that experience like and what did you learn from it?
Manj is an exceptional artist and an amazing person! I learned so much from him when I was a DJ in the early 2000’s. I got the opportunity to do gigs here and there around Canada where Manj was also present. Through those experiences, Manj gave me a lot of words of wisdom and advice that helped shape me as an artist today.
The most memorable experience was when he asked me to come in to the (then) RDB studio in Toronto. He laid out some songs for me to play Tabla with - yes, I’m a musician first, a producer second!
The tracks I recorded tabla for eventually ended up on Manak-E’s album ‘Darr.’ The only other artists featured on the RDB songs from that album were Mitch Hyare. It was an honor to be involved in that.
Since then, I’ve connected with Manj here and there - Canada is a huge country and we live on opposite sides of it. I can say he, and his wife - the artist Nindy Kaur, have been great people, great ambassadors for the Punjabi music scene, and always keep it real no matter what.
Who would you compare yourself to in the Punjabi music industry?
I have amazing mentors in the industry that have helped me craft my professionalism and style, as well as amazing artists that have inspired me through their music. Having said that, I’m not trying to be like any artist, or copy any artist. I just make music that I’m feeling and means something to me.
I have a background as a musician before becoming a DJ, and then eventually a producer. I’ve been musically trained in Tabla (Patiala Gharana) by a former Giani of a local Gurdwara. Then, when learning about melodies and raags etc., my Ustaad who trained me was a classical Ghazal, Qwaali, and Sufi vocalist.
Having said all that, my influences are from very ‘pure’ styles of musical training, as well as traditional Punjabi folk music and UK Bhangra (bands) - you may hear elements with those styles in them when listening to my music, but any similarities are coincidental I make whatever I’m feeling at the moment. Art inspires more art.
Who are your inspirations in music and who would you dream of working with in the studio?
My inspirations will sound typical, but that shows you the power of those artists: Gurdas Maan, Surinder Shinda, Kuldip Manak, ALL the UK Bhangra bands from the 80’s and 90’s (too many to name), Panjabi MC, Rishi Rich, B21, RDB, Bally Sagoo, Tigerstyle, Zeus, Binder Bajwa, Malkit Singh, Sukshinder Shinda, and Jazzy B. And there are many others outside of the Punjabi music scene, like Ryan Leslie, Dr. Dre and Public Enemy. I simply love music in general.
I have some mentors in the music industry. I don’t know if they even know how much of an influence and help they’ve been to me or not; I have gotten to work with them also, in a variety of different ways. So big shout-out to Binder Bajwa, Neil and Kal (formerly of Sound Ministry) - now known as Code Red and Kal M, Amen Panesar (DJ Reminisce), Manak-E, and Manj of ManjMusik!
I would love to work with many of the musicians I’ve seen in the various bands in the UK and Punjab - such amazing talent! I would also love working with Dr. Dre, Will Smith, Channi from Alaap, and the Late Surjit Bindrakhia.
What are you hoping to accomplish by the end of your musical career?
It’s simple; make music that people will enjoy and love. By the ‘end’ of my career, I just want to look back and see that my music made a difference in people’s lives. That could be for a variety of reasons. I just want to make quality music.
I also hope to create good experiences for the people listening to my music. I want the content to be relevant to life. I hope that my music, or content of my music, can reach out to somebody who needs it and can help them - however, if at all, that is possible; that is my wish.
Can you tell us about one specific incident or situation that made you realize your passion for producing?
I realized my passion for producing in high school. I had this drive and passion for the sounds that were coming out of UK at the time (Safri Boyz, B21, Panjabi MC, Bally Sagoo). Having a background as a musician, I started getting all these ideas in my head and I wanted to put them together.
I was involved in live music, whether it was at the Gurdwara, or for Punjabi folk performances etc. as a Tabla player; the enjoyment and fulfillment of creating music with other artists was a driving force for me becoming a producer. At the time, I thought that becoming a DJ would want fulfilled that desire. Through my DJ career, I realized that I wanted to develop more.
I completed an Audio Engineering program and learned about recording methods and how to run a studio. With time, I started building my own studio and produced music. I found fulfillment in this process, and as they say, the rest is history!
What do you think are the keys to making a track successful in the Punjabi music scene especially being in the Canadian market?
I don’t look at markets geographically (Canadian, British, Indian, etc.). To me, music is a global language - it's universal. I understand that there are influences from artists in different areas (like ‘UK Bhangra’) but for me, the market is global.
Making a successful track is knowing what listeners are “in to” in the current time of the market, as well as what would be loved by artists at any time. I call these “timeless songs.” They don’t have a time period where they are popular; they’re always popular and relevant. Having said that, however, an artist must create what he/she feels and can connect to. That’s where music production is an art.
What are your feelings on being a Punjabi artist based out of Canada?
Firstly, I’m very proud of being Canadian! Being an artist out here, especially in the Punjabi/Bhangra genre, isn’t very easy! As I mentioned before, the geography and accessibility make it difficult, but advancements in the Internet and communication technology has diffused that problem for the most part.
Other than those minor inconveniences, being an artist out here is great! There are many talented artists out here in Canada - born and bred. The North American Bhangra/Punjabi music scene is beginning to become more dominant on the global stage. I’m very proud of all of my fellow Canadian artists and the success they are having. For the ones that are trying and still trying to get their stuff out there - don’t quit! Good things take time.
Lastly, tell us a little bit about your upcoming track ‘Taareyan Naal’?
Man… this track! It just sort of happened. I started off making a beat and just putting it away for a rainy day. Eventually, M Dhadwal was in the studio and we were playing with different ideas for a project to work on. I pulled up the beat and I saw a ‘light bulb’ go off in his mind! Seconds later, he’s singing the chorus to the song on the beat I was playing. This was the magic coming to life!
We went from that, to spending countless hours with different concepts and compositions etc. Eventually, we came up with something that just wasn’t a song you hear - it was a song you feel.
M Dhadwal is an amazing writer; he came up with different variations of the lyrics on the spot and made developing content for the song very fun and easy. He also brought me a lot of coffee! Often with us in the studio was Gurjot Sandhu (look out for him soon)! He gave a lot of feedback and helped with the general development of the song as well.
Make sure you keep it locked to SimplyBhangra.com for an EXCLUSIVE early release of the song and video on May 19, 2016. The official release date will be May 20, 2016 - worldwide!
Lastly, I would like to say a thank you to all the supporters and members of SimplyBhangra.com, especially Jovan, for giving us artists a place where we can express our music and communicate with our fans and listeners. Thank you all!
You can follow me at Follow @JovanHeer