Read Part 2 of SimplyBhangra.com's Exclusive Interview with Manj Musik!
Tell us a little about your son and wife. We hear you are the David-Posh Beckham of Canada. How has the journey been so far from where you started?
That's what Kuly paji used to say. He would say "Manj, Nindy you go in the front and sing the songs as you guys always look fashionable, even though I know the two of you dislike all this limelight and Surj and I will kick back" Kuly paji always kicked back whereas Surj loved basking in the limelight. Nindy is not fame and money oriented person and far from it, in fact people don't know but if you ask any of our management and people who work with us, Nindy actually travelled and did shows for 5 years pro bono.
She never took a single penny even when she was getting all famous just to support me. She would love to stay at home in her PJs with Anoop and relax and look after him than be on stage and infront of cameras. But now due to fans and production houses demands she can't let them down also, so she balances her time between professional and personal commitments on stage. I must say this I am very fortunate to have found a life partner like her. When I wasn't as big, she did everything to ensure where I am today.
She does the 24-hour travel from Canada to India for private shows at a stretch and it's creditable how she still has the energy and travels back to Canada to see Anoop for just 1 day. She can't live without him and wants to build him an empire and a legacy to take forward. Nindy has been my backbone and pillar of strength in the label's success, finance management and an amazing housewife. Anoop's doing so well in school and learned to speak, read and write Punjabi as well as paat, which is what a lot of mothers even with 9-5 jobs can't do.
Nindy dedicates her life to Anoop 1st, then me and then her career. She is the same as she was ten years ago and has been my backbone since day one. When we are together it just seems normal and we behave like a normal family. Whether in the studio, traveling and performing, or being a mother to my son, she has been there in every which way. At home, she is my wife and Anoop's mom first and Nindy Kaur, the celebrity, second.
I remember when we found out Kuly paji was sick, we quickly left everything and our home behind in Toronto and moved to the UK, this was Nindy's decision straight away and she said "whatever happens Manj we need to be there for Kuly paji and for your mum, dad and family, we have to pack and go now". While I continued to travel alone with Kuly paji for his treatment in USA, Nindy took care of everything else in UK. We've both sacrificed a lot for our family and she has always stood by me no matter what. I respect her for that.
You have made many songs and albums but which one is your favourite?
I have to say that every song is my favourite, there's something unique about every production. Aaja Mahi is very close to my heart as that was the first song I produced completely on my own and the first time I sang and wrote the hook line too with some help from Herbie from Sahara. I remember showing the song to Surj and a few friends while we would be at gigs DJing and they would say it's the crappiest song they ever heard. Today it isn't even in a Bollywood movie and is the most famous sound to date.
You have shot many videos in many countries but which country was your favourite to shoot a video? Do you enjoy travelling?
Oh yes I enjoy travelling only when it's for recreation. There's no place like home so Canada I would say is the best place in my eyes. But I did love shooting in Miami when we were shooting for Singh Is King Remix, which was great!
Your wife plays an important part in the Punjabi music industry; do you feel that there aren't enough females?
Nindy was a bathroom singer till we met. When the whole RDB revolution happened and at the turning point of our success in Bollywood when India opened doors to RDB, it opened Nindy who was at the forefront to it. RDB was pushed further than ever before after she came into the scene. She brought a lot of dynamism to the whole band and was viewed as a game changer. We were being called the Indian Black Eyed Peas. I guess there is an excess of Punjabi male musicians and they need to pave the path for the fairer sex.
Do you take time to look back at your musical journey?
Every morning I like to introspect. I don't think anyone is perfect and there's always scope for improvement. I thank god for what I have today every morning and teach my son that no matter what level of success you have, you always have to stay humble.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Maybe picking a Grammy on behalf of the Punjabi music industry. It's time Punjabis get the recognition they deserve. Every other special promotional song in Bollywood films today is a Bhangra number and it just becomes an instant hit. Whether it's Honey Singh, Badshah or Raftaar, there's a bombardment. The Punjabi music industry ranks in crazy numbers whether it's private performances or collaborations.
Maybe after 5 years I can retire and settle down with Anoop just playing with him every day and seeing him grow up. Right now I have to work to support my family and setup a foundation for his future. Anoop is what Nindy and I work for today. He is our future and we need to invest him. Everything we have will be passed onto him one day and I'd want him to carry forward the legacy. My motto is "work hard now and play later or you can play now and have no work later"
I love your motto! Tell us about Party Like A Punjabi with Gippy? What was it like to work with him how did you come together?
He's a creative and a down to earth entertainer. I have already made the song and aimed to get a big Punjabi artist on the track. It just happened to be perfect that Gippy and I met in New Delhi and I showed him the song and it kicked off. Next we shot the video in Toronto and aim to release it next month.
Tell us about your unreleased music?
There's loads of new stuff coming out. I have a single with Salim Suleman and then something with Vishal Shekhar and Sunidhi Chauhan and then there's something with Badshah and Raftaar. Besides that I'm still working with Punjabi artists Jazzy B, Zeus just to name a few. Manj Musik is not a label that is new. My music speaks for itself and my talent will show because I have a lot of the industry wanting to work with me which is the proof in the pudding to say.
Any exclusive news for SimplyBhangra.com?
I'm putting together a tour in 2016 as a tribute to Kuly paji on his birthday with some of the most eminent singers from the Punjabi music circuit with a few global stalwarts. We have already begun recording the teaser soundtrack and it's shaping out pretty well. If all goes well just get ready for some Manj Musik dhamaka.
I'm sure so many of your fans are looking forward to 2016 now! If you weren't working in the music industry, what would Manj be doing?
A designer maybe. That's why I have launched SOS Clothing Inc, a formation of Swagged Out Sardars because of my eye for perfection when it comes to fashion. I love the extra bling and the psychedelic colours. There's a vision to launch SOS Clothing Inc as an ethnic brand across the world and we are in talks with various retailers and mainstream brand ambassadors. I would also probably sit back and invest more into property; it's a great business to secure for my son.
What genre of music do you listen too?
Contrary to my image, I listen to everything form heavy metal to rock and music in different languages. I grew up listening to a lot of classics and then turned towards dance music in my high school days. Now I really enjoy trap music.
You are seen in your music videos, how necessary is this?
Why would you feel that a singer being portrayed in his video is superfluous? It's my product and by appearing in it just makes a point that it's my brand and replicating it would be illegal. In the West, singers don't have actors and models playing the lead roles in singles, in fact they make a special appearance.
In Bollywood it's very different as the star of the movie helps promote the song, but I do believe that a song if it's good enough and it's a hit, it will become a worldwide hit. I use the example Aaj Mahi, it had a horrible video and I wasn't even in the video, but today is the biggest song of my career and the video was never played on TV. A hit is a hit but it's always nice to be part of that hit visually.
How has the support been?
Waheguru has been kind and I couldn't have been more grateful. The whole team originally who managed RDB from social media to bookings to PR across the globe is supporting Nindy and me and working for Manj Musik now. That shows you who the real stars are and the loyalty to us has been crazy. I can support my family and management team in a more than well-appointed fashion so I'm happy it's all going well. Manj Musik will be at the top of the game in 2015.
What are your views on ghost production?
I'm not in favour of it. It's the apex of the materialistic, charlatan, ostentatious desire of certain types to become a 'superstar performer' for the love of status rather than for the love of music.We spend so much time and effort making the sounds and then someone comes in and says, 'I'm going to pay you a certain amount of money and I want to have a song.' There are some rich blokes that dish out tons of money to make themselves appear as creditable artist.
But an artist is created by creativity, originality and discipline. It is not created by money and power. Today this is a huge trend. When an artist gets more involved and starts working with bigger people, having ghost-writers is just the way it is. Everyone that's big doesn't write their own music.
Watch out for Part 3 - Coming soon