Firstly guys congratulations on the new album, give us a quick introduction about the Play-az lab collective and what you do?
Thanks a lot. The Play-az Lab is a movement which is aimed at original unique and authentic music as opposed to the continuing trends of sampled and fake music out there. We hold integrity in out work and pride our creation which we have made from scratch into a final product which you hear in your homes!
To clear it all up, how many members do you exactly have apart of the Play-Az Lab? And what are their different roles?
Play-az Lab is a record Label as well as a movement but our general numbers in our crew are not recordable. We class those that work with us as part of our movement. We don’t force or not allow any of the artists that work with us to state whether they are part of us. We are like a big family- those that work with us remain a part of the Play-az Lab family. We regard any talented individual who works with us as a part of our ‘love’ which makes our music. In terms of Play-az Lab itself a few of the members who have inputted greatly include myself- Lightnin MC, Jas Panesar (co-founder and Chief Engineer), Reckless (Designer and MC), Noor, Major, Dilmohan, A_J_D, Road-Raa, Nemesis, Abhilasha and the rest of the crew.
Noor is a talented female vocalist, who appears on the songs ‘Dhoka’, ‘4Play’ & ‘Boliyan’, how did you manage to hook up with her, and any plans for a solo album?
Noor is exceptional and at such a young age she is predictably one of the best up coming singers UK based. The hook up is through Reckless who introduced her to the guys and from there we all grew to admire Noor and her vocal abilities. Solo albums, haha, I cant reveal anything we have planned but we have a lot of future projects in the pipeline. There is a huge interest from other artists in Noor and Im sure she will prosper immensely in her career.
You featured on Notorious Jatt’s smash hit album ‘Livin It Up’, on the anthem ‘Aish’ and ‘Aag Vich Paani’, how did that come about?
Notorious Jatt met me at a gig, we exchanged numbers and it went from there. I mc-ed on Aish which went down well with the fans and Myself and Jas Panesar also jointly produced the track Aag Vich Paani which we personally hold as one of our favourite works!
Now don’t get me wrong but in our industry, new artists are literally coming out everyweek, all with varying successes, all with questions about who actually produced the work! What sets Play-az lab apart from the average DJ XYZ out there?
Yeh I mean what sets us apart is we are ‘real’ artists. We make the music and credit it accordingly. Other ‘fake’ artists like Jagz Klimax, Jinx and Co prefer to buy their music so they can promote their dj-ing skills to obtain a few more bookings. We don’t believe in ‘faking’ it and we also prefer to use the original artists in the video, as opposed to ‘mimers’. You get artists like J-Skills and Dj H who prefer to mime their tracks for a bit of fame… We don’t agree with this at all.
The album cover states ‘Parental advisory – Original Content’ is this a swipe at Bhangra ‘producers’ who continue to sample and/or bring out reused sounds/loops on their albums?
Like I said previously it is not a swipe but simply a statement that we are real artists. We have created this album from scratch and put a lot of effort in arranging, composing, producing, promoting etc so we pride our ‘originality’ over the other ‘fakers’ in the game.
Do you think it is essential to re-invent yourself on every release, as now days most producers tend to stick with there tried and tested methods, which keeps originality to the minimum?
Definitely, I mean if you listen to our album, you may see the same signature on many tunes due to it being the same producer, but they wont sound like any other track on the album. Instead of sticking with the ‘tried and tested’ we prefer to create sounds which are fresh and innovating. It is essential to provide refreshing music in order to develop yourself as an artist.
A listen through your album shows an album that is indeed all originally produced and more importantly in today’s Bhangra market, the different vocalists used are completely new, was this a conscious effort by you guys not to have big established names pushing your album?
We have tried to think outside the box. 90% of the people in the industry would prefer to use lehmber and stick with the same structure to their songs as everyone else. We don’t want our music sounding like anyone else and by using new vocalists and talent we are also pushing out new fresh artists as opposed to the recycled Lehmber Mania that everyone else willingly uses.
Were now approaching the middle of 2007, apart from your own album, is there anything released this year that you have rated as a quality album?
Nope. Not that I can think of. If your talking different, Surinder rattan – Akh Largai track that’s definitely an individual track. Most of the other albums sound like each other.
On the album itself, the use of MC’s is quite prevalent throughout, do you not think that MC’s have had their time in the Bhangra industry?
Bhangra originated from India, what we hear here in the UK is a hybrid form of Bhangra which can be better termed as ‘British Bhangra’ or ‘Asian Underground’ as many academic sources state. MC’s are an integral part of Asian underground music, without them half of the people that listen to Asian music probably wouldn’t!
On the album u opted to add the MC version of ‘Dupatta’ instead of the Desi Mix, don’t you think in todays market desi is more of what the public want?
Todays market? You might think from forums and message boards you are predicting todays market. In actual fact you are far from it. Todays market has no facts figures or statistics to show that this is right or wrong. There is no academic research which suggests that the market is more desi as you so lightly phrase it. Desi is stuff that comes from India. If people want Desi then they would buy stuff from there right? I don’t suppose there is a need for a UK Asian Bhangra market if everyone wants Desi- but miraculously the market still exists!
This ones for you lightning; what was your input on the albums production process, if any? Or was your role simply limited to appearing as a MC on the album.
I have had far more input on the album than simply mc-ing. I have arranged and composed lyrics, directed the music for the track ‘4-Play’, helped in promoting and marketing the product itself. I have written the Punjabi lyrics for the track ‘Vehria’ whilst also composing the vocal arrangement on the track and of course dropped a few lines on some tracks!
Many UK Producers are now turning to North American rappers and mc’s to appear on there respective songs, how do you think UK MC’s match up to their north American counterparts?
Well a lot of ‘mc’s’ tend to put on fake US accents because they think it sells, in actual reality they sound stupid. You got people Metz and Trix who pretend to speak in US accents? I just don’t get it? Whats the fascination? Wheres the reality?
North American rappers are good- but- like I would typically say there is no language for music- similarly there is no accent. There is no reason you cannot express lyrics in the same way in a different accent.
What is your view on the quality of lyrics we are exposed to in the desi scene. Lately there seems to be a lot more politically conscious lyrics. Would you encourage more?
I would encourage simple easy to understand lyrics for the youngsters with English translations through mc’s and English RnB singing fused in. That’s if you want to help youngsters to relate to the Punjabi element and help them to understand their home tongue.
You recently appeared on the BBC AsianNetwork Breakdown show with Ameet Chana, you publicly on air accused artists such as ADH & Jags Klimax of being fake, and only in the position they find themselves in due to the money they have. What constitutes a fake artist?
We never accused, disrespected, foul mouthed any artists. We simply mixed our own opinions with facts. Fake is simply something which isn’t real
- In my studies I would typically say that a fake artist is an artist who either breaches copyright law by stealing music and legitimising it as his/her own, or people that prefer to be ‘actors’ that portray artistic authorship.
So you’re trying to say Jags Klimax ‘paid’ for his album?
I never said that, but it would appear so wouldn’t you agree? His track heer sounds like about 30 other tracks I have heard- not a little bit but pretty much identically.
The idea of Ghost production, or an artist paying someone else to produce an album pops up a lot in our industry, is it as common as everyone states?
It certainly is, we believe the fans deserve to know. We are not stating names to provoke hatred or hype for our album. We respect a lot of the artists we have named for certain things they have done for the industry but similarly we believe it could be done without projecting artistic images!
Do you think your in a position to accuse artists of being fakes in the industry, when Play-Az lab themselves are still new, shouldn’t you first reach the top and then criticize?
Do you have to be superior to someone in order to reveal the truth? We believe we are already on top because we make real music and speak the truth and what is on our mind. This is not an attack on any artists personality or success, it is simply a wake up call provided to the industry through our own voice.
Now its time to play the word association game. I'm going to say a name or word and you tell me the first thing that comes to your mind.
Punjabi MC – Legitimized his biggest hit as his own work. When it was clearly not. Knightrider.
Rush The DJ – Never heard of the Guy?
Mehsopuria – Ranjha Jogi Ho Gaya.
VIP Records – Making a difference. Respect to Vipz for his ‘wider’ influence outside of making music.
Metz & Trix – US accents not working, go back to the good ol’ days.
Sukshinder Shinda – currently as close as you will get to a ‘Real’ artist
Lehmber Hussainpuri – Used too frequently, Have a break, Have a Kit Kat!
Specialist & Tru Skool- Daru Pe Ke, Daru Pe Ke!
Kam Frantic – Gift to the game
Any final words for the readers of SimplyBhangra.com?
Respect to all the people that support us and buy our album. If you download it your opinion doesn’t count. You are killing the industry. Respect to all those artists and fans who can appreciate our ‘truth’ and efforts to make the industry a better world for everyone.
No offence intended at those who take offence by what we say.
Conact us at info@play-az lab.com for any info or queries regarding our views and opinions.
Big up the SB crew for their support and Thanks to yourself Sukh the interviewer!