Eky? Who is this, many wonder? Well Eqbal Surae (Eky) is a name that has been around the Bhangra Industry for nearly 20 years. The man behind many productions that rocked the Bhangra Scene has now released his debut album, ‘Simply 21’. We managed to get hold of this busy man, who at one time was jetting of to India to bring us Labh Janjua and the so many hits that followed; Mudian Tho Bachkeh, Good Morning, Dhol Jageero Da, Ho Geya Sharabi, to bring you this exclusive interview.
For a starter tell people who you are as many may not have heard about you.
Eky as you know, I was the man behind the production of Kureah Par Langahdeh (Safri Boyz) I formed and came up with the name Eshara and then went on to work with PMC.
Coming to your debut album, ‘Simply 21’. Why the name and tell us more about this and the artists in the album.
The name ‘Simply 21’ well simply me!!!! 21 in Punjabi is Eky and that’s me!!!!! When I started with PMC, my aim was always to explore new talent. I have carried on in that same vein in this album. Apart from Ashok gill who has made a name for him self with Ho Geya Sharabi and Jelly Manjeetpuri who is a well know writer and singer in India, the other entire are not well know but very good singers.
With so many productions being done both in the UK and India, where does your preference lie and why is that?
I have always been a pure desi and am desi at heart and to get the true Folk sound I worked in India a lot but you need to combine the sound of the west so you can only go so far in India the rest has to be done here….
If you could choose the line up for the best gig in the world who would be on it and where would you stage it?
I would have Hans Raj Hans, Gurdass Maan, Sukhwinder Singh, Nachater Gill, Lehmber Hussainpuri, Kuldip Manak, Shin (DCS), Malkit Singh, Balwinder Safri AND Sukshinder Shinda. Moreover, I would stage in the Capital of Bhangra BIRMINGHAM!
What can we expect of you in the near future?
I am working on an Album for Music World due to be released in the next few months featuring some classy vocals you will have to wait to find out who but your readers will be the first promise, and working on filming two new videos CD Lah keh and Dilaseh.
What inspired you to get involved into the ‘Bhangra Scene’? Was it because your father played an instrument?
It could have been but I have always had music in my blood, I used to listen to Kuldip Manak while doing my homework and my dad used to shout at my saying how could I concentrate and work at the same time.
You do not play any instruments. Do you feel that this is a barrier in production as you than have to rely on others to produce that ‘prefect beat’?
Well actually I can play the Dholki and Tumbi not to a recording standard but enough to get me by in the studio. I think there is only Sukhshinder Shinda who can play multiple instruments in the studio the rest like me have to use professionals in the studio.
Top of Pops, a long time ago. This must have been mind blowing, a Bhangra act in those days on the Mainstream scene was unheard of, tell us more about this.
Yes it was mind blowing. To stand on the same stage as the Beatles Elvis and all the famous bands and artist that have been and are WOWW you couldn’t buy that experience. I stood in the green room before I went on stage and all the pictures were on the wall and I had the shivers. To have a Tumbi Dhol track on mainstream telly!!!!!! Who could have imagined that? Nevertheless, unfortunately the programme is gone so never again.
What made you choose the ‘Music World (UK)’ to release the album?
I have known Satpal(Music World) from when I had Kuriah Par Lingahdeh (Safri Boyz). I was on the way to another label to hand over the master and stopped at Roma Music Bank where Satpal was with Pritpal his partner - I played them the track and they said it was not leaving as they wanted it and were determined to release it under their label, So my relationship with Satpal goes back along way and when he heard I was producing my own album he said he wanted to release it.
Which bands have you had a direct involvement with and how much?
Safri as I have already said, I actually formed Eshara with another singer Bobby from Northampton God rest his soul. However, when we were recording he wanted the album to take a different direction but I disagreed so we parted. Then Sukhsinder shinda who was working on the title track at the time asked me if I wanted another singer I said yes he suggested Meshi I first said no as I thought he wasn’t up to the task, Shinda said trust him and he would get him up to the mark and he did and the rest is history. Soni Atwal then contacted me and asked if I was interested in helping him form a band so he could go solo that was called Satara and then I was approached by PMC and that you know about.
Who is the person you admire most in the industry and why?
I admire every one who goes out and produces quality music I think it takes a lot of skill to keep on producing music to a high level as the many who do album after album.
Do you believe that lack of distribution from getting UK artists out abroad into India/America/Canada causes bootleg issues with albums they cannot purchase locally?
Yes I think it does some labels across the waters don’t want to commit to releasing albums in the fear of it not doing well and them loosing there money, music has it’s trends they fear that what ever we are doing out here will go out of fashion.
What is the most important thing you've accomplished in career?
I think the most important thing I have accomplished is gaining respect and creditability in the music industry for what I have done so far.
Finally a word to all our SimplyBhangra Users.
Please keep on supporting sites like SimplyBhangra.Com and keep buying the cd’s from the shops if not then producers will not be able to keep on producing good albums after good albums. Peace 21