Bursting onto the scene with his debut single 'Je Nachna' - We catch up with UK Born vocalist TJ to talk about his new single and more!
You’re a brand new UK born vocalist, tell us about how you got into singing?
Needless to say, singing has always been a passion of mine. Music has always been part of me from a very young age. I started singing at the age of fifteen with the guidance of my Ustad Baldev Singh ji. I took a keen interest in playing the tabla which paved the way into singing, and from there my obsession for it began.
Have you had any vocal training up until now? and if so, is it continuing?
My father has been my teacher since the beginning and has taught me everything I know up to this point in terms of classical vocal training. Of course there came a point where being highly influenced by western music played its part in converging alongside my conventional training. The vocal training does indeed continue, one of the many things I love about singing is that I am always learning something new, whether it’s from working with the music producer or from legendary singers, and that for me is the key to progression. I feel that vocal training is a crucial part for any artist. I try to vocal train at least once a day because it helps me to enhance my vocal ability.
How important is pronunciation as a UK Born singer, is this something you’ve actively worked on? What would you say are trickiest words/phrases to master.
Punjabi pronunciation can be very tricky, however, being from a home that mainly speaks in punjabi, and mostly speaking punjabi myself, I can't say that it’s something that I conciously worked on, but it never hurts to get advice on anything I am unsure about.
Your new single ‘Je Nachna’ has been produced by Jaz Rattan, tell us a little about the single & how you hooked up with Jaz Rattan, who has been quiet for some time.
After Kumar Heera had taken me under his wing, he invited me to come down to see him. When I first came to the studio, I met Jaz Rattan, who at the time was ghost producing for many big artists in the Bhangra scene. He already had established himself behind the scenes for his unique sound and versatile production. From there we started to collaborate together, but at that time we both felt that we had to develop a brand new and unique sound for myself, something that expressed both mine and his passion for music. At the same time, he helped me develop myself further as an artist, a process which took two full years of hard work. Many people don't realise the years of hard work and dedication it takes to get to this stage, so I just wanted to point out that none of this happened over night. The single 'Je Nachna' is a young dance floor track which lets you enjoy a desi number with a touch of UK flavour.
Your single released under Swag Entertainers, are you signed to this label? Can you tell us a little more about them?
I am indeed signed to this new label. I believe the label was established in India but the UK side, which is managed by Kumar Heera, is trying to take a different approach in the way it is run.
‘Je Nachna’ is a dancefloor number – do you think its harder for the public to take in slower songs, especially if you’re attempting to break through?
It all depends on the individual really. Everyone has to make some kind of an impact in order to breakthrough and be heard. It just so happens that dancefloor numbers make the loudest bang. While its not impossible to make a debut with a slower song, I can see it being an even bigger struggle. However, the reality is that you have to cater to what the public wants, but in my case, it just so happens that my debut was a dancefloor number.
It’s a great sign when a legendary figure such as Kumar Heera backs a young vocalist, how did you first meet him and what influence has he had on your career to date?
I met Kumar Heera through my Ustadji, in which I got to showcase my skills to the legend himself and since then he has taken me under his wings and guided me through.
Are there plans for a debut album, or are you still testing the waters with singles?
We have some big tracks that are all complete and ready to go. This includes a summer track which I am incredibly excited about called 'Zara Hasle' and it is a completely new style of music which hasn't been attempted in the punjabi market. Of course, before that I have two other singles, one of which is a sufi inspired track and one which is a more slow paced ballad. Again, all of these tracks are produced by Jaz Rattan, and is a testament to his versatility in producing different sounds. Towards the end of the year, I will follow up with an album.
As a young vocalist, which vocalists and musicians did you look up to?
There are many artists that inspire me, but the standout ones for me include Master Saleem, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan saab, Sardool Sikander ji, and ofcourse, Kumar Heera himself. From the mainstream, Usher, Chris Brown and Jason Derulo have influenced me greatly.
You released a mini interview/live session to coincide with your single release – was this a conscious effort to connect with the audience and showcase your skills right away?
In a way, yes. Kumar Heera is a legend in the industry, and his reputation has played a big part in his success with his global audience. So what better way to introduce me to the world. The harsh reality is that there are many new artists that are trying to get themselves heard in a sea of noise that has plagued the bhangra industry. Having Kumar Heera introduce me was kind of an insurance to the audience, that here is an artist that he believes in, and someone he truly believes will make a difference.
How important is social media for you? Do you have a facebook or twitter account yet?
Social media is of vital importance. For an artist to connect directly with his listeners and hopefully fans on a personal level, is the best kind of service I can give back to the people who show their love and support. So for anyone that wants to connect through facebook or twitter, please search for me at @theofficialtj1.
Any final words for the worldwide readers of SimplyBhangra.com?
I just want to say a big thank you to all the music lovers and to all the people that have shown me so much love and support. Keep on supporting, and I promise to bring you even better music for all to enjoy. Keep Music Alive!