Juggy D is one of Bhangra’s most exceptional stars. His name carries enormous weight because it’s been affixed to Desi remixes for icons like Britney Spears and Timbaland, listed in the national charts and adorned marquees across the globe.
With the phenomenal success of his debut album in 2004, Juggy D toured the world for an unprecedented five years. Since then, he’s been back on the scene, lending his star power and addictive vocals to big hits. These include Blitzkrieg’s Take Your Picture, Taj-E’s Vang Teri and B-Projekt’s Ni Soniye. Now, the Punjabi Rockstar is gearing up for his own new material.
Juggy D speaks exclusively to SimplyBhangra about his upcoming album, his role in Bhangra, Asians in the mainstream and more!
Juggy D, welcome! It’s wonderful to feature you.
Thanks for having me and for your kind words! It’s a pleasure to be featured.
How do you see yourself right now, at this point in your career?
Right now, I'd say I'm very happy with life in general. I'm content and, most of all, enjoying what I do, as always; putting out music and performing around the world.
“Okhe Pound is about the hard truth of coming from a foreign country...”
Your new single Okhe Pound (featuring The Truth) is out now. It’s striking because, usually, the immigrant experience expressed in Bhangra is of missing the homeland or encountering a new culture, and your single is grittier than that. How would you describe Okhe Pound?
Okhe Pound is about the hard truth of coming from a foreign country, whether it be India, Pakistan or anywhere else. It covers real life situations: choosing to leave a decent life behind to find a better life abroad and then realising that the streets aren’t paved with gold and that you have to go out to work on building sites or take any kind of work to survive. You have to fend and cook for yourself and just about make ends meet, let alone send money back home to your family.
Juggy D and The Truth expressing true and harsh realities: Okhe Pound:
How did Okhe Pound come about? Was it inspired by anything in particular? Were you aiming to do something different?
It was about being different, really. I met Gurjeet Singh, the guy who wrote this track, and he showed me a few songs. But Okhe Pound really stood out purely because no one had done a track like this. The lyrical content was so true to what is happening now that I just had to do it.
“It was an amazing feeling being part of a team that raised the bar...”
Speaking of different, you’ve always been a stand-out star. You’re the first British-Asian Punjabi singer who was uber-cool and, while having cross-generational appeal, connected especially with the youth. What was that experience like, to be a game-changer in that way?
It was an amazing feeling being part of a team that raised the bar and opened new doors. We, the Rishi Rich Project, were a young dynamic and did things that not many Asian artists get to do and still haven’t done. For example, having the first Punjabi album in the national charts; being on Top Of The Pops and CD:UK; performing at MTV Lick parties with Trevor Nelson, the MTV Awards in India, with Westlife and in Ibiza with Steve Sutherland – and the list goes on. For any artist, being part of that would make you feel on top of the world!
At the centre of Urban-Desi crossover and feeling on top of the world: The Rishi Rich Project at the 2004 MOBOs:
Looking at your accomplishments with regards to the mainstream (entering the national charts, featuring on remixes for Britney and Timbaland, performing at the MOBOs), did it feel like, “Finally, some change is in motion”?
Of course. And we've all still been working really hard to keep trying to change things. Jay has done amazingly well in the US. Rishi is signed to the same management as Timbaland. And I'm moving to Mumbai and I’ve and got a couple of big US collaborations coming out as well as my long overdue album.
A previous big US collaboration for Juggy D: Rishi Rich’s remix for Britney Spears:
How would you say that type of change and visibility is important for British-Asians?
I guess you've got to do things out of the box, not be afraid to take risks and keep people talking about you. This helps when people find British-Asians behind major projects.
Twitter and Facebook were abuzz a few months ago upon hearing about a Rishi Rich Project reunion! What are the plans for the upcoming collaboration between yourself, Jay Sean and Rishi Rich?
We often talk about doing a track together again and maybe even a World Tour. But we've all got so much on at the moment. So, we just have to wait 'til the time is right for us all.
Juggy D, Jay Sean and Rishi Rich, after a surprise performance at this year’s London Mela
“I've matured a lot since the last album…”
Who have you collaborated with on your upcoming album Punjabi Rockstar? Which producers have you worked with?
I've collaborated with The Truth on my latest single Okhe Pound, and with Miss Pooja on a track called Sohniyeh, produced by Bee2 and Taj-E.
And I’ve worked with Mentor, Rishi, Tigerstyle and V-Double-E.
Where would you say you are now, musically? What will we get from Punjabi Rockstar as Juggy D’s second album?
I've matured a lot since the last album in 2004 and now take lyrical content into major consideration with certain tracks so that they are deep and meaningful. There's a variety of tracks, from dancefloor, love, sad, mid-tempo and very Desi. So, there’s something for every mood.
Do you have a release date in mind?
The album is out later this year, hopefully by the end of October!
Jeh mundiya tu menu nachdi dekhna, then buy me Punjabi Rockstar because it’s got another collaboration between Juggy D and Tigerstyle! Their previous smash:
The album is called Punjabi Rockstar, you live life to the max, and you recently stage-dived with H-Dhami! So, to close on, what’s been the most ‘Rockstar’ moment of your career thus far?
I guess it’s got to be in India a few months ago, when I performed at an outdoor pool party. I was dared to jump into the pool fully-clothed in the middle of my set. Did I do it? Of course I did! And it was proper Rockstar! [Laughs]
Juggy D, we thank you and wish you the best. With everything you’ve done and continue to do, you have such a devoted fanbase. So, what message would you like to extend to the SimplyBhangra readers?
I thank you all for your continuous love and support! I definitely wouldn’t be here without you all. And thank you to SimplyBhangra for your support.
Once again, thank you. Namashkar, Salam and pyar pari Sat Sri Akal!
Interview by Govinda Lakha.