Kiran Dhanoa is the newest signing to Rishi Rich Productions. The burgeoning songstress has already performed across the UK and around the globe, dueting with superstar labelmate H-Dhami. She continues to flourish and, constantly working on new material alongside her imminent debut single Tere Bina, she is set to blossom into a vibrant artist.
Kiran Dhanoa speaks exclusively to SimplyBhangra about her journey so far, being mentored by Rishi Rich, her forthcoming music and the need for more females on the scene!
Kiran, welcome! Firstly, share with us your background and what sparked your passion for music.
I’m a 22-year-old Law student trying to make my dream come true, with an amazing aura of people around me.
I come from a family that heavily appreciates music in all its different forms and genres. Therefore, being brought up in such a family, music has always been a huge part of my life. Music is something anyone and everyone can relate to, and I suppose that is what makes me so passionate about it – it’s a universal language.
Who are your biggest influences?
In life, my mum and dad for definite. They are two people that I can reach out to regardless of the situation, have taught me so much and believe in me. They keep me grounded and have always supported my dream, if not urged me to push through with it.
Music-wise, I would say my influences range from Whitney Houston to Sudesh Kumari. But an all-round influence for me has to be Rishi Rich. He helps me stay focused and driven and is the best mentor and friend anybody could ever ask for.
“...I felt as if I didn’t have the confidence to do this.”
From what point did you want to pursue that dream of singing professionally? What was that path like up to now?
I’ve always had the image in my head of doing something like this professionally, but, in all honesty, I felt as if I didn’t have the confidence to do so. So, I started off with baby steps by recording video clips of myself singing and uploading them onto Facebook and YouTube (I also tagged numerous artists in them to try and gain some sort of recognition). I then went on to make a Facebook group and slowly started to approach producers whilst building up a fan base myself.
It was a very hard road for me as my confidence had always been very minimal and, at that time, my parents didn’t know of what I was doing; not because I didn’t think I would get the support I needed, but because I felt it was something I had to do myself.
I did suffer a lot of knockbacks, but, as everybody knows, within the music industry, knockbacks only make you stronger.
Your determination was no doubt essential, looking at where you are now. Rishi Rich Productions is such an elite camp, so new signings are always very intriguing. How did your audition come about? What feeling struck you at that time?
Following on from what I used to do with the videos, it wasn’t until Rishi Rich replied to my message (a year later!) that it hit me that all my efforts may have just paid off. He invited me down to the studio to audition for him and Veronica, and that’s when the journey began.
Kiran Dhanoa with mentor and super producer Rishi Rich
As such a young artist, it must be both exciting and intense to be mentored by a veteran like Rishi Rich. What is that experince like? What does it involve?
It is a very exciting and intense journey, but it is more overwhelming to know that I do have the support of Rishi Rich Productions and Mumbai Rouge.
It is very hard work also. Most people believe that, for an artist within the industry, you sing, you record, you make an album, you make a video and you tour and everything is just clear-cut and handed to you on a plate. It isn’t like that. You have to work hard at the vocals and the image and you can’t just put a so-so album on a shelf. It is a lot of hard work, but, then again, that is exactly why I feel I am in the best of hands with Rishi.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned under Rishi Rich’s tutelage?
Time is everything.
What do you feel you and Rishi Rich bring out in each other? Is it fair to say that your style has a dash more Bollywood? (Although not so much to be considered a female uprising against labelmate Romy Shay, of course!)
A producer-and-artist relationship is very special and not one to be taken for granted. Both sides have to bring out the best in each other, and I feel that Rishi brings out the best in me.
As for having a dash of Bollywood to my profile, I would say I am a combination of many qualities, but I see myself more as a Punjabi artist than a Bollywood one. We have our “Mr. Bollywood” Romy Shay for that! :)
“Tere Bina is an emotional song with a story to tell.”
Your debut single Tere Bina is out soon, which you, Vee and New Era Music Group wrote and Rishi Rich produced. Tell us about the song and how it came about.
I wrote the song quite a while back – it just had a different composition attached to it.
When Rishi and I were vibing in the studio one session, he played me a rough guide of a track and he wanted to know my thoughts. I fell in love with it and went home straight away to re-arrange my previously written lyrics.
Life inspires me, so the song is not based on somebody specific at all (I have also tried to explain this to my mum and dad); it’s just an emotional song with a story to tell.
What else do you have in store for us to look forward to? Do you have an album in sight?
The album is in the process of being completed. I am constantly writing new material and trying to broaden my lyrical capability. So, hopefully there is much for everyone to look forward to.
“My glasses are a part of me and they give me confidence.”
You definitely have uniqueness to your style. What would you say sets Kiran Dhanoa apart? Bringing positive representation for ehnkaa-wearers to the scene?
My glasses are a part of me and they give me confidence. What sets me apart is the fact that I feel comfortable in wearing them and being able to pull them off with either an English outfit or a Desi outfit.
Everyone is unique in their own way.
Kiran Dhanoa performing live and with confidence (glasses in tow!) at Trafalgar Square
On the subject of standing out, female artists are somewhat of a rarity in Bhangra. How would you say Bhangra being male-dominated affects females hoping to enter the scene?
The fact that Bhangra can be objectively labelled as “male-dominated” is a problem in itself which needs to be addressed. There are females out there with amazing vocal capabilities and, just like I was given an opportunity, I think it’s about time more females were introduced to the scene.
We definitely need more females within Bhangra, and we need to bring the edge back!
“...the industry needs to be more open-minded and give women a platform for us to prove who we really are...”
What are your thoughts on the barriers and inequalities which that imbalance presents, and overcoming them?
Within music, there is a great deal of inequality simply because females can be easily judged, but the industry needs to be more open-minded and give us a platform for us to prove who we really are as opposed to what we are being perceived as.
What imprint do you hope to leave and how do you wish to inspire further hopeful females to enter the scene?
I have worked very hard to reach the stage that I am at now (not saying that it’s going to be easy from here on), but hard work always pays off. And I hope to inspire those who feel that they too don’t have the confidence to reach for their dreams and make them come true.
Kiran, we wish you the best and hope you achieve all that and more. And we appreciate the interview! What closing message do you have for your rapidly-growing fan base?
I want to say a HUGE thank you to all those who have sent me their best wishes, Tweets and Facebook messages. And, more importantly, the support I have received already has been phenomenal!
Thank you to the SimplyBhangra team for taking time to do this interview.
Lots of Love,
Interview by Govinda Lakha
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