SimplyBhangra.com brings you yet another huge exclusive. We recently caught up with the incomparable Rishi Rich! Renowned for his fusion of international sounds, Rishi Rich has found success in Bollywood, Bhangra and the UK mainstream.
In doing so, his significant crossover accomplishments cemented the super-producer’s status. Armed with Jay Sean and Juggy D, he infiltrated the national charts and produced remixes for icons like Mary J. Blige and Britney Spears. In any musical scene he pursued, Rishi Rich is recognized as a pioneer of the influential Urban-Desi movement.
His various achievements coupled with a penchant for developing new artists into megastars – including Jay Sean, Juggy D and H-Dhami – makes Rishi Rich a key figure in the British-Asian landscape.
The musical maestro with the Midas touch joined us for an in-depth interview. We discussed Rishi Rich’s forthcoming album, a reunion with Jay Sean and Juggy D, working with the Lib Dems, the Urban-Desi movement, his new artists Romy Shay and Tasha Tah, ghost production and more!
Rishi Rich, welcome!
Thank you very much.
Firstly, it’s exciting to hear new ‘buzz singles’ from you. What’s the plan for songs like Permission (featuring Mumzy and Veronica) and You Should Be Mine (featuring Vee)?
Permission will be used for an American artist as Veronica and I have written it for that purpose. Mumzy is no longer with Rishi Rich Productions as he recently chose to leave, so he will be replaced on the track.
As for Vee, he is my boy. He’s probably one of the best vocalists I’ve heard! I can’t wait for him to blow up.
Rishi Rich with up-and-coming talent Vee.
As those head-bopping Urban-styled buzz singles show, you’re a diverse producer who experiments with different sounds. So, what do you have in store for us with the forthcoming Rishi Rich album?
I cannot wait for people to hear my forthcoming album, as I have taken it back to it being about music. It’s something for which I have definitely experimented with different sounds. Simply; this album is very musical.
Your sound is kind of emblematic of British-Asian identity. The Urban-Desi phenomenon is something that you, partly but significantly, pioneered and popularized. Did you expect it to become so big and infiltrate the mainstream?
I think it was all about timing. My sound has always remained the same. As British-Asians, we have always been on the borders of the mainstream, be it in music, media or fashion, etc. It was just a matter of time for something to give. I’m just proud that I was at the forefront of that movement.
Providing British-Asians with landmark mainstream exposure – The Rishi Rich Project performing live at the 2004 MOBO Awards:
In terms of mainstream, will there always be a bit of a barrier for Urban-Desi because it’s “different”?
I think so. However, for me, if your music has an Urban-Desi feel but your song is Pop, then it should be something that will stand out.
It sounds cliché, but music has no barriers, be it language or even cultural. If something sounds good and creates an emotion or feeling within the person listening to it, then it works no matter what their background. Pigeonholing is something created by the industry, the labels and the people who decide whether a track should get played on air – not the listener.
Creatively, you’re at a nexus between Bollywood, Bhangra and UK and US R&B. Which of these would you like to pursue most at this point?
Bollywood and UK Bhangra are something that I have a love for. Thanks to the amazing fans of the music that I make, that will always be something I continue to do and love. But, for me creatively and to take my ability to the next level, it’s all about the UK and USA right now.
U’n’I, Rishi Rich’s contribution to Bollywood blockbuster Hum Tum:
Your crossover success has allowed you to act as a representative for British-Asians and elevate the Asian scene. Tell us about your involvement with the British Asian Trust.
I was asked to become an ambassador for the British Asian Trust, which was a great thing and I felt humbled. I will be putting across my points and ideas to the Trust on how I want to help underprivileged kids through music, amongst the other things that the Trust is involved in. Check out their website for more information.
What’s the status of your project with Nick Clegg, intended to help reach the minority vote? Has the recent damage to the Liberal Democrats’ image affected that?
My manager is in talks with them on how we at Rishi Rich Productions can work together. In terms of image, at the end of the day, all politicians and political parties get flack for decisions they make and/or flack from opposing parties, etc. The point is; if I and Rishi Rich Productions can do something positive together with the Lib Dems or anyone who has the power to make good changes, then that’s all that matters.
Ain’t no party like a Bhangra Party. Recognized by the government as prominent personalities in the UK Sikh community, Rish Rich Productions are in talks for a project with the Lib Dems.
Speaking of what you’ve done for the scene, you’re recognized for developing and mentoring major artists, including Jay Sean, Juggy D and H-Dhami. What do you look for in an artist initially?
For me, of course talent has to be there. But they also have to have the attitude to go with it, and the hunger to want it!
It’s not just about plucking someone with talent from obscurity and putting them out there. I spend a long time with a new artist, developing them and their skills in all aspects of recording, performance and media training, etc. before they even step into a vocal booth to record an actual releasable track. It’s a lot to do with the type of human being they are as well as their talent.
With slick styling, quality videos and strong promotion behind these artists, is it fair to say that you’ve employed the Pop star model in the Asian scene, while retaining your unique Urban-Desi artistry to back talented and charismatic artists?
I think that’s fair to say, yes.
H-Dhami, finely-honed by Rishi Rich, began his superstar ascent with Sadke Java:
Tell us about your latest signings, Romy Shay and Tasha Tah. What do they bring to the table?
Romy is a brilliant new artist who I have been working with over the last 12 months or so. He's a very unique artist who has his own vibe, both visually and musically. Romy’s first single is called Bollywood Star and will be released within the next few months. He's about to shoot his first video, to coincide with the single, and the video will feature Shilpa Shetty!
Tasha, again, is an amazingly talented singer/songwriter who has been working really hard on her sound with me and Veronica. We are currently working on her next single as we speak, so we’ll have something for you guys to hear very soon!
Rishi Rich with Romy Shay, whose forthcoming video Bollywood Star will feature Shilpa Shetty.
What else do you have in the pipeline? Can you offer us any exclusives regarding the anticipated Rishi Rich Project reunion?
Thanks to the world of Twitter and social networking sites generally, I'm sure that a lot of you out there read or heard about Jay announcing that we will be working on something together very soon. We are still in discussions as to what that will be. We have a lot to live up to after the amazing success we had as the Rishi Rich Project. But whatever we decide, it will involve Juggy as well and will be huge. Keep an eye on your Twitter timelines!
Jay Sean and Juggy D: set for the Rishi Rich Project reunion.
Right now, the thing at the forefront for me is my new solo album. That is now ready and has an amazing line up of singers on it. That’ll be released this summer.
And, of course, we have the remix edition of H-Dhami's Sadke Java album. That has a whole host of producers doing their thing on it as well as me. That’ll be released with a behind-the-scenes DVD of H's journey to date; H-Dhami - The Story So Far. The DVD features a whole load of footage that H has been collecting on a personal cam from the beginning to now. It will have interviews, event footage and personal blogs intercut with his videos and backstage footage. This’ll be released in the next couple of weeks!
Available soon: H-Dhami’s Sadke Java album remixed by Rishi Rich, PBN, DJ Vix and more, along with the DVD The Story So Far.
You’re a humble producer who’s also a skilled musician – you’ve studied music and play a variety of instruments. What are your thoughts on egotistical artists and producers, as well as ghost production?
I say each to their own, to be honest. It’s all well and good pretending to have produced something or to have an ego, but the question is; how long is that going to last?
I think to sustain a career in this industry, you have to be honest to yourself and to the people who listen to your music. That way, the fans connect with you as a person and to your music. Having said that, we live in a world where those 15 minutes of fame is all people want.
Rishi, thanks for joining us. What closing words do you have for the SimplyBhangra readers?
Thank you so much for your continued support throughout the years for me and my artists! Your feedback is what’s most important to me and enables me to continue to grow as a producer. I hope that you all continue showing us that same love with all of our forthcoming projects.
And thank you to SimplyBhangra.com for being an important link between my music and the people of the world.
And, as always, I can’t urge enough to buy original CDs and to download music legally via the proper sites, whether it’s my music or any of your favourite artists’. We are only able to make the music you love because of this.
Interview by Govinda Lakha.