SimplyBhangra.com's Kulwinder Kaur Kainth caught up with Nesdi Jones - The voice behind the hit song 'London' to talk about how she made her mark on the asian music scene!
Nesdi Jones, the very young talented girl from a small town in North Wales is known as the ‘desi gori’. We could call her the YouTube sensation after being discovered by Yo Yo Honey Singh in which Nesdi sung the song ‘Brown Rang’.
Since being discovered she has sung her debut song ‘London’ with Money Aulja and Honey Singh which was the number 1. Nesdi talks to SimplyBhangra.com about her journey so far in the industry and how it all began.
Hey Nesdi, How you doing?
I'm awesome! Thanks for the chance to talk to you guys!
That’s absolutely fine! So Nesdi, you are Welsh and have entered the Bollywood and Bhangra scene. How did you get introduced to Indian music?
I have been travelling around India since I was 17 so it has been an influence since then. I lived with five Rajput guys and they always played the latest tracks (One time ‘Subha Hone Na D’” was on replay for hours!) Also attending the big Desi weddings is the music I always loved. I think Indian music is very soothing and poetic and the pumped up tracks always gives away that amazing “feel good” vibe. Going back to Wales I started getting into it and got hooked!
You’ve spent a lot of time in India, tell us more. Has it changed you?
Yes definitely! But for the better I guess. I finished my AS levels studying Media, Drama and English in college and I felt there was something missing and the same routine different day was daunting in a way. So I packed my bags and went to Delhi. I helped in a NGO in Kishangarh village teaching maths, English and sports. On my journey I met the nearest and dearest to me today. I don't know what I would do without my Delhi friends they are like my family! I think it has opened my eyes a lot. There is a huge world out there and I just want keep exploring but India has pulled my heart strings and when I'm not there I miss it very much.
WOW, going to India at the age of 17 and working there is such an achievement. You’ve achieved a lot in so little time. I know you started singing from the age of 5, what kind of songs were you singing?
Started singing in my Chapel in Criccieth (my home town) where I sang Welsh hymns and classical soprano songs. At the age of 8 I started competitions in Wales called the “Eisteddfod”. Then at the age of 12 I started rapping, this was when I was going through a difficult time in school and it all went from there.
So whilst staying in India, you were introduced to the various cultures, languages and of course music. Did you listen to Indian music first or you learnt the language?
First it was the music. My dear friend Pundrik always played the songs and translated them for me. I picked up Hindi slowly at the NGO I volunteered for. My Hindi is still pretty basic but I am now seeking professional help to better it. Punjabi is still fairly new to me but I do want to learn.
YouTube has worked for you and given you an incredible platform. How did you begin with uploading songs on YouTube? What are you tips for anyone else that wants to be noticed?
I was missing India a lot. I also found it as a coping method in a way. The songs I sing bring back certain memories so singing them made me feel good. I did ‘Brown Rang’ on YouTube thinking no one will ever see it because there are millions of talented singers out there!
With the advice I guess it’s to do something you enjoy and what you’re comfortable with. Try to be natural. Don't give up, your time will come.
What was the first Indian song you heard and sung?
First song I heard was ‘Aanjani raho mein’ by Lucky Ali. First song I sang was ‘Tu jaane na’ By Atif Aslam. My friend Icku actually sat up with me all night teaching me it!
So before entering the Indian music scene, were you aware of the different genres of Indian music?
I knew what Bollywood was and Bhangra. But my knowledge was very limited. Living in a small town in North Wales, the influence wasn't there. These days my house always has the BBC Asian Network on and I'm constantly on sites so I can keep up!
I love the fact how you and your family have embraced the desi music! So what is your favourite singer/song within the Bhangra scene and Bollywood?
I find this question so difficult! My taste in music differs with my mood. I love vocalists like Lucky Ali, Atif Aslam, Arijit Singh, Mohit Chauhan, and A.R Rahman because it's very soothing and calm. But then you have artists such as Mika Singh, Jaz Dhami, Jazzy B, Yo Yo Honey Singh which I will blast through my speakers! Then you have Shreya Ghoshal which her vocal abilities blow my mind! Favourite song... I love ‘Pee Loon’ by Mohit Chauhan I always listen to it after a bad day and ‘Aas Paas Hai Khuda’ from the movie Aanjana Aanjani I adore it and even covered it on Soundcloud. My favourite song at the moment is ‘Sun Raha Hai Na Tu’ by Arijit Singh the power and dynamics in it is what I really appreciate.
What is the one song you wished you had sung and why?
Definitely 70's Bollywood love that era! But you never know...
What kind of music do you listen too?
A LOT. I go from classical to old hip-hop. I like the old hip hop such as ‘Naughty by Nature’. Rap such as Eminem and B.O.B. I like British music like Jessie J and Rapper JME and Kano. I like strong women in the industry like Adele who shows emotion and attitude. I'm also a huge fan of musicals and Disney songs (The big kid inside me!) I also love American rock like Paramore, Fallout boy and Panic at the disco.
There are many young British Asians who only speak English. Here are you a young talented 21 years old, who sings and raps in four languages, Hindi, Punjabi, English and Welsh. That is something to be very proud of.
Did you find it hard learning the languages? Are you a quick learner? Do you get confused?
Thank You! Very kind of you. Welsh is my first language so that's easy! Hindi and Punjabi I get confused with. The accent on certain words differs and I mix them up. My producer friend Chan has helped me a lot with my Punjabi because in person you hear the subtle changes clearer. I wish I was a quick learner! It depends sometimes I can remember one sentence for life others I just go blank even though I've been told it about it countless times. However, now I'm taking it lot more seriously because I want to get it 100% right!
Congratulations on your debut single ‘London’ with Money Aujla and Yo Yo Honey Singh which became the number 1. Where were you when you heard this news? How did you feel?
My dad filmed a live reaction of the announcement and Suzi Mann played it on the BBC Asian Network! I was with my parents in the house. It was surreal. The countdown I was physical sick! I couldn't eat, I was shaking! I was in tears screaming I just lay on the floor thinking “this is really happening”. As a young kid I wanted to accomplish being a success with singing but to be honest, I never thought it would happen to me. I still can't believe it. Welling up thinking about it!
What has it been like working with one of the current best producers Yo Yo Honey Singh?
Awesome! He called me into his studio once in Delhi while filming ‘London’ and it was amazing! Little old me saw one of the most successful producers in India. We worked on ‘London’ and asked if I can write a verse. He is very professional but also friendly so I feel comfortable around him and the team.
Who would you like to collaborate with in the future and why?
I like Jaz Dhami I think we could make a good fusion project. Then you have legends such as Eminem I find his literature powerful in his songs and would love to learn from him. Jessie J because of the emotion she puts into her music I feel we could make a connection. Then you got Atif Aslam because I fancy him ha-ha... I also love his voice and I love acoustic raw material. And Hard Kaur! Love her attitude! There's so many... I'm a big dreamer.
It’s all about dreaming big! So Nesdi do you write your own music? Are you planning too?
Yes I do. I use to have a Welsh band in my teens where I wrote lyrics and composed melodies. On the track ‘London’ the English lyrics were written by me and so was the melody of the English parts. In the future you will be seeing more of me and what I do.
What challenges have you faced since becoming known in the music industry?
People have been very supportive. Challenge would be getting my next track done and then the album. Pressure is on big time to get it going and time is passing me by quite fast! People really want me to sing in Hindi and Punjabi I'm just worried I won’t sound right. I am my own worst critic. I listen to London and think “I could've done that note better”.
Are you receiving criticism for your pronunciation?
On YouTube yes, a lot. But I know it is wrong so people are in the right. Which is why I have stopped the YouTube Covers I want to prove to my followers and myself that I can accomplish the language.
What has the best moment been yet and why?
The phone call from Honey Singh saying he likes my voice and wants to meet me. I broke down. And my first interview in the BBC broadcasting house was awesome with Tommy Sandhu. Being on ITV news! And being number one! I'm the type of person who is grateful with the smallest of things! I could go on forever!
So much to be proud off in so little time! So are you going to consider singing as a career, if so will it be focused within the Bhangra/Bollywood industry?
YES! Bhangra/Bollywood definitely but I want to put my own influences as a fusion also I really want to be a playback singer but I know I have a long way to go.
Will you want to perform more in Hindi or Punjabi?
Yes. My first full Punjabi performance in the UK is this month in Birmingham and I am so nervous! I have been performing mixed of Bollywood and English for a while so looking forward to going full Desi ;)
I’m sure many people are excited to see this performance! How do you feel being labelled as the ‘Desi Gori’?
Privileged! The fact that everyone has welcomed me with open arms is unreal and it makes me emotional. I wear my heart on my sleeve so if people are being really nice I will tear up! Like a title isn't it? Ha-ha!
I’ve seen Instagram images of you wearing Indian attire. Do you enjoy wearing it?
Love it! My wardrobe is getting taken over by suits and saris! I love the colours however Desi women pull it off a lot better, sometimes I walk weird in a sari but my friends give me hints and tips!
Do you play any instruments?
I have played the Saxophone and the Violin but never really stuck to it. I am going back to the Saxophone and going to learn the Guitar to develop my skills as a songwriter.
Where would you like to perform?
The big dream is to do the big arenas and stadiums! Sold out you know? I would love to headline at a mainstream festival. My dream is to make a living out of what I love. I love performing in my local pubs and my home turf. I'm pretty simple that way. As long people enjoy then I am extremely happy.
If you weren’t singing, what would you be doing?
Acting I would like to think. I love to do stage shows. But I have a huge passion for cooking and the restaurant industry so I would probably go for catering and hospitality.
Apart from singing in different languages, have you got any hidden talents?
I have danced for number of years Ballet, tap dancing and modern theatre and acted a lot. I even played leading male role ‘Sky Masterson’ in the musical guys and dolls! I'm a pretty good cook! I make stuff from scratch and people are always surprised when I tell them!
How’s the support from family and friends?
Great. It's been a very emotional time for me I've been putting my blood, sweat and tears into my work for so long. When I was finding it all getting to me my friends were ready to hug me and give me a pep talk! My parents have been behind me helping me out and always encouraging me to do new things and to keep travelling. The people close to me play a big part of my work.
Do your family and friends understand Punjabi or Hindi?
My mum is starting. Simple words like kya, kyun etc. But she wants too. One of my sisters has starting listening to Desi music and has even informed me about an upcoming song by Punjabi artists. It's all a bit new to them but they are interested and enjoying it.
Who’s your inspiration?
Not completely sure... Is that bad!? I like the type of people who work hard and keep pushing themselves to the limit. My dad has been a big role in my life. When I'm upset he always ends up making me smile and feel at ease (even when I don't want to!) And that's what I want to do to other people just with my music.
What will we be expecting this year?
You will get to see me as the person I am. “London” was more like a story and acting. I am very quirky and strange as my friends say so hopefully you will get to see that side of me in my upcoming songs! In the next month my Solo track will be released Which I am singing and rapping in 3 languages. Hopefully my album will go well and you guys will enjoy it!
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Hopefully get a solo number one! Would love a steady music career and a little more settled. At 21 I have no idea what is coming next or where I am going so hopefully I can calm down a little by then. I also would want to help budding musicians and singers! People keep asking me about getting married but I laugh it off ;)
Apart from performing and working on music, what do you do in your spare time?
I love horror films! Also love to cook! A lot of my spare time goes to my best friend Leuan (You see him interrupting my instagram videos a lot!!) we always watch films or discuss random debates which is enlightening. I've stared modelling too. Nothing serious just helping photographers out which I find a lot of fun! Also reading horror book and writing short stories.
Lastly, any message for the readers?
Thank you! Your response over the years has been a great help! And you have been supporting since day one and I can't thank enough! Keep sharing my work keep supporting and promise I'll give my 100% to not let you down! Love You Guys! xXx
Interview by Kulwinder Kaur Kainth