Let’s be fair whenever someone mentions Bikram Singh to your average Bhangra listener, they will instantly bring up ‘Kawan’, which really catapulted Bikrams career to another level. Yet there is so much more to the catalogue of hits Bikram has assembled over the years, more notably, ‘Sada Dil’, ‘Hauli Hauli’, ‘American Jugni’ and of course ‘Taakre’ & ‘Chaklo Gandasy’. We caught up Bikram Singh recently to bring you this exclusive interview.
1. As with the 'here today gone tomorrow' nature of the industry, would you consider yourself already a veteran with two albums, various features and a mixtape under your belt?
I am not a veteran by any means. I’ve just started and I have a long way to go. Along the way, I am learning so much from different artists in the industry and it’s been an amazing experience. I just hope that I am able to continue making good music for years to come.
2. Your last album came out in late 2007 - what are your plans for the next one and will you be working with tigerstyle as per the previous two?
Next album is 80% done. I have worked with Tigerstyle for most of the album. Other artists that are featured on the album are Mentor, Twin Beats, Mc Special, Ranbir S. (RB-NYC) as of now. We may feature other artists on the album as well.
3. Since you broke through circa 2003\4 as a North American act, the Bhangra scene in United States and Canada has flourished. How far do you think the setup in North America is behind the UK in terms of infrastructure and wealth of talent?
Wealth of talent is tremendous in the US as far as Bhangra artists are concerned. I’ve met a lot of great singers/writers in the US who have not had an opportunity to showcase their talent yet. Infrastructure is still lacking to a great extent with respect to providing a platform for local artists.
There are radio stations, TV stations that are playing music and videos straight from Bollywood and Punjab. I am talking about TV stations such as Zee music (Punjabi), B4u, Jus Punjabi etc. Rarely do I see these TV stations playing anything from the US or UK.
That is not necessarily due to the radio or TV stations’ discretion, but we need labels, legitimate companies providing the material to these stations. Additionally, the Indian media is supporting what is coming out of India rather than the US.
I have been covered by mainstream media in the US many times, whether it is for my legal work or for my music work. I do not get the same coverage from Indian or Punjabi media. Unless we have a substantial change in current circumstances, the US lagging behind UK and India will remain for a long time.
4. Your collaboration with Twin Beats drew the hit song 'tere nain nashiley'; what did you think of the adventurous Twin Beats alternative mix for that song?
I thought it was great. I loved their disco/electronic interpretation of the original. I think the Twins are brilliant producers with great vision.
5. You've recently put out the single 'aaja ni billo'; what was the thinking behind this single.
“Aaja Ni Billo” has not yet been officially released. It is track taken from a project I am currently working on with Bellringer. I am working on a completely different sound on that project. We are compiling 6-8 tracks.
The tracks are more on the pop/dance/urban vibe. I’ve experimented with signing in different styles, including doing chorus & verses in English with Punjabi compositions. I wanted to venture out and try something different and this project with Bellringer is a testament to that.
6. When people think of 'Bikram Singh' they immediately think of the cult classic 'kawan'. What do you think it was about 'kawan' that has made it a timeless classic?
There were a lot of things that made the track what it is. The lyrics were simple yet meaningful, Gunjan’s vocals and style of singing was amazing, and production from Tigerstyle was brilliant. It was also the right time.
When “Kawan” came out there weren’t many duets coming out. It was one of the first duet tracks that came out in the UK in a long time. In the end everything fell in the right place and we had a great track.
7. I hear you're also a lawyer, the demands of most parents mean that many young individuals are forced to give up their musical aspirations for a more straight forward career. How was it for you and do you have any advice for people who are facing similar situations?
Parents need to provide guidance for their children’s aspirations not regulate or take full control of their objectives. Parents should recognize their children’s talent whether it’s in music, computers, medicine or law and help nurture it.
Having said that, young individuals need to be realistic about their career choices and make a wise decision. It is not an easy task and that is why education is important. Young individuals should always strive to obtain at least bachelor’s degree. Education helps you put things into prospective; it makes you realize whether certain career paths are worth pursuing. Nevertheless, you should always consult with your parents.
I was never pressured to pursue law. I always thought that the legal profession was fascinating. My parents supported my singing from the very beginning. When I finished my bachelor’s of science degree, I decided to pursue my law degree. It was my decision and my parents supported that decision.
8. You've just been signed up to Simply Bhangra records and we've given you an unlimited budget for musicians, producers and One mega high budget video set anywhere in the world.. Who would you choose to work with and where would you pick to shoot that video?
I really like Will I. Am. I think his production is brilliant. I tentatively named my next album Bik. I am. LOL. It would be nice to have him produce a Bhangra/hip hop track. As for the video, there are so many great places in the world to shoot. I would definitely pick Brazil as one of them.
9. What’s the plan for Bikram Singh in the next twelve months and where can your fans see you perform live?
I am working on finishing the next album. It is nearly done. We are hoping to release our first single “Beyonce” with the video by the end of November. Followed by a second single and then the album by early next year. The album is sounding great!!! I am very excited about it.
10. Any final words for the readers of SimplyBhangra.com?
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the love you’ve given me. I do not take it for granted, not for a moment. I hope to continue releasing quality material for all my supporters.
Thank you to Simplybhangra.com as well. It is because of websites like yours that Punjabi or Asian music is still alive and kickin!!! Keep on doing a great job! Thank you.