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Exclusive 'Mukthar Sahota' Interview

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Mukhtar Sahota 

 

The album '21st Century Jugni' with Arif Lohar, a 'Legend of Pakistan', tell us more about this and why did you chose to collaborate with him?

Arif Lohar’s management contacted me and wanted to know if there was a possibility of us collaborating together.  I had always been into Arif Lohar and grew up listening to his father, ‘Alam Lohar’, as my father was a huge fan of his.  It was a pleasure for me to work with Arif as he is a very talented vocalist and seems to be underestimated.  An advantage with Arif was that his vocal range works a treat with heavy metal music over a lot of other vocalists. 

What were your views about another Record label releasing a rival Arif Lohar album, at the same time as 21st Century Jugni?

The album ‘21st Century Jugni’ that I did with ‘Arif Lohar’ was released back in October 2006, under my own Record Label, ‘Internalmusic’, and another Record Label released an album at the same time by the title, ‘Jugni’ using Arif Lohar’s old vocals and tried to pass it off as my legitimate album in an attempt to cash in.  Trading Standards around the country have been removing their album off the shelves and my lawyers are currently dealing with this matter.  Just when you thought piracy was an issue!!!!

 Mukhtar Sahota

What do you think of the ongoing politics involved in the Bhangra industry, and how difficult is it to collaborate with an artist who is signed to another label, do you think these petty differences are holding back the growth of both artists and the industry?

The word ‘politics’ is an under estimation for the Bhangra Market today.  ‘Record labels’ are stabbing each other in the back by releasing albums with similar titles and vocalists, ‘Distributors’ who are also Record Labels are too busy pushing their own products to the retail outlets and holding back others, ‘Radio Presenters’ (mentioning no names) think they are superstars and it’s about them and not the artist or the music, and if one Radio presenter is playing your music then the rival isn’t interested, ‘Bhangra Websites’ are having their own conflicts as to whom has got the exclusive first, I could go on forever!!!!!  I don’t think collaborating with other artists from different Record Labels is that difficult today, as we are seeing more of it.  These politics will always hold back our industry from going forward.  Piracy, File sharing and free downloading sites are just as much to blame.

What do you think about the massive influx of so called producers entering the Bhangra scene, with little experience of producing but years of djing experience?

What worries me is the state of our Music Industry today.  We need to see more vocal talent in the UK and those who are producing need to pay more attention on how instruments work together including the way vocals sit with the backing track.

There are ongoing rumours about a possible Sahotas comeback, can you shed any light on this, and are you guys planning to release another album?

With regards to ‘The Sahotas’…………..watch this space………..

Keeping inline with the days you were in the Sahotas band, the song 'Hass Hogia' has gone down as one of the greatest Punjabi, if not Bhangra songs ever, do you think you are able to ever recreate this success you had with Hass Hogia?

Every artist and every band has a particular track that they get noticed for by its success.  You could never predict what will be the next successful track.  As an artist I can only do my best to produce good music and it depends purely on the public acceptance for its success.

After the release and success of your first album ‘21st Century Jugni’ on your own label, ‘Internalmusic’, you now are bringing your second album with Lakhwinder Wadali’. He is in his Mid Twenties and you have to give it to him for his vocals which sound like Hans Raj Hans.  Tell us more about this and why you chose him?

Lakhwinder Wadali is from Amritsar, India, and is the son of Puran Chand Wadali, from the legendary duo known as the ‘Wadali Brothers’.  Having received vocal training from his father, Lakhwinder’s vocal ability ranges from Classical, to Folk and traditional songs.  After hearing some of my work, Lakhwinder approached me to produce his album.  I was very impressed with his vocal ability and the rest is history.

Do you prefer being in the studio or performing live?

I do prefer both, as they are very different to each other.  The studio allows me to perfect the recording, and I like the fact that I have full control of what I am working on.  The stage gives me a great buzz.  Performing live in front of an audience allows me to see the response to my music, which motivates me to produce more albums.


 

Looks like an exciting year ahead for you. What do you think is the best and worst thing about being in the music scene/business?

The worst thing about being in this industry has to be the politics and the piracy.  The best thing about being in the Music Industry is the appreciation and support I get for my work worldwide.

Tell us something not everyone knows about Mukhtar Sahota? 

Everyone knows as much as I want them to know about me.  The rest is for me to know and you to find out….. To be honest, it’s not really all that interesting……


You have now established yourself as a solo producer, and also as a member of a band, how hard was it for you to go solo without the backing and the ideas of other band members when producing songs?

All the ideas, and the Music Production on the ‘Sahotas’ albums were done by me, so it wasn’t difficult for me to do my solo projects. 

What sets you apart from every other Bhangra producer out there?

I don’t really class myself as a Bhangra Producer.  If you listen to my music you will notice that I don’t really produce many Bhangra tracks on my albums, and to answer you’re question about being apart from every other Producer, I will let your readers be the judge of that.   

How important do you think it is for a Music Producer to play instruments on his own tracks, or have a general knowledge on the instrumentation process?

Firstly, I would like to stress how important it is to learn about music, vocal techniques, learn how to play a few instruments, and to understand how music is arranged.  Put your own ideas together and don’t work off other producers’ music by sampling.  Everything I have learnt to date has been by studying music from around the world, and I am still learning.  Music is an art that can never be mastered and it is a continuous cycle.  You should pursue music because you’re passionate about it and not for the wrong reasons.

Now we've all heard about artists going to certain studios in and around the midlands to 'produce' there album, is Ghost production as rife as is claimed within the industry?

I feel many producers out there today are in it for the ‘5 minutes of fame’, and there are a handful of producers that are passionate about their work.  A ‘Music Producer’ is a title or a job description given to someone who physically ‘writes’ and ‘arranges’ music, not to someone who pays a Producer (Ghost Producer) to produce the work and then sticks his own name on the cover of a CD sleeve.  It is becoming a widespread problem.

What are your views on the individuals who produce work, which in many cases is at a sub standard level but do not put there name to it?

It’s all about the MONEY!!!  I personally would never do that.


You’re seen as a producer who does not go with the norm, being the first Bhangra Producer to use Lehmber Hussainpuri in the UK Market, do you think it is essential for other producers to stay away from using the same vocalists in order to keep Bhangra moving forward?

There are so many vocalists out there but our industry in the UK seems to think lets all jump on the same band wagon and use the same vocalist because he’s been tried and tested by someone else and it’s an easy way to sell.  What they don’t realise is that this is not always guaranteed.   

In the past you were signed to EnvyRoma label, did you feel that they allowed you to have the creative freedom on your tracks, and was this the reason in you leaving them?

I have always had full artistic control over my music whether it was with the Sahotas or my solo projects.  Oh, and no, that’s not the reason I left them…..

Tell us about some of the great musicians that you’ve played with in your time or the ones you would like to?

I have had the privilege to work with some great artists like A R Rahman, Shaan, Jaspinder Narula, Sukhwinder Singh, Channi Singh (Alaap), Dhami (Heera) etc….. I am currently working with some great artists (mentioning no names), but I’ll keep you informed……

And finally any messages to all our readers at SimplyBhangra?

Please always buy the original album as piracy is killing the Asian Music Industry in the UK faster than the Ozone Layer is being destroyed.  That is no joke.  Stop downloading the albums illegally and ‘File Sharing’ as it is not cool to say ‘I can get it free’.  It is only a matter of time that there will be no new material for you to download or to buy for that matter as you are destroying the artists, labels and your music outlets.  Say ‘no’ to the pirate copies.  We are a small Music Industry and not as big as the Mainstream who make millions.  This is our job and we would like to get paid, only then can we continue to provide new material.  How would you feel if you went to work for a whole year and not get paid for it? 

The latest album has now been released, so do get your copy and enjoy yet another good album ...

 

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