Daler Mehndi an international icon the guy behind the vocals of Na Na Na Re, Tunak Tunak Tun. Born to a musical family which has been going on for seven generations, Daler has had the biggest hits both in Bhangra and Bollywood. Now Daler Mehndi will be featuring his new single Dilrubu in which he talks to Kulwinder about his 2015 plans and his creations.
Sat Sri Akal Daler Mehndi how are you?
Sat Sri Akal Kulwinder, I’m fine currently roaming around in Delhi it’s very cold, yourself?
Well thank you, are you excited for this year?
This year 2015 I am doing a lot, I am very excited with the first single track releasing called Dilruba. Next, will be my track Dum ma Dum I have a lot of songs releasing afterwards. I will also be releasing Sufi songs; I will also be incorporating a lot Jainism music with mine.
Tell us about your single Dilruba?
It will be launching on YouTube, I’m looking forward to the release and very excited about this. Dilruba is an impromptu creation during a visit to a nightclub in Delhi. Set in beats that make you groove along, Dilruba is an ode for all to confess their love.
Are you collaborating with anyone this year?
Let’s see whoever wants to work together. There’s a high budget movie which will be releasing soon named Mirza Sahiba- directed by Rakesh Om Parkash Mehra, the man behind Bhag Milka Bhag and Rang De Basanti. 3 songs of mine will be featuring in the movie.
Looking forward to hearing your voice in the film, you are famous for a number of hits, which one is your favourite?
My current favourite is Dilruba, it is very different it’s a dance track and it is aimed for the young generation aged 15-20 years it is defiantly not for the older generations although I do believe the older generation will be dancing to this song in the coming future.
How do you feel about having fans globally?
I am very grateful to Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji that he has given me his blessings and that so many people have love for me.
Do you pay attention to the UK Bhangra music scene?
I love listening to the old UK Bhangra such as Bhabiye Ni Bhabiye by Chaani, Alaap, Heera, Malkit Paji, Safri Boys, I feel very happy when I listen to their songs and their style of music. I also like Sukhshinder Shinda.
Who does Daler Mehndi listen too?
I listen to Chote and Bade Ghulam Ali Saab, Nusrat Fateh Ali; I am a very big fan of them. I like listening to Sukhwinder Singh his Chaiya song was incredible, Sonu Nigam and Mika also not forgetting my son Gurdeep Mehndi. As well as my son in law Navraj Hans who is the son of Hans Raj Hans I enjoy listening to them both too.
So will you and Navraj Hans be collaborating in the future?
I will be working with all of them; currently there is a plan to do a world tour which will last 3 years. In this show there will Pop, Sufi, Bollywood, Bhangra so much variety and genres.
So when are we expecting this world tour to start?
Hopefully at the end of the year, however first I’ll be doing all my shows around the world it will called The Tunak Tunak world tour. After that we will take Hans Paaji, Gurdeep Mehndi and the rest with us to the tour.
Great! All the best for the tour, you grew up listening to Gurmat sangeet, Thumri, Khayal, Ghazal. Why is thumri so close to your heart?
Thumri is very tough to sing and is of course very close to my heart. I’m from a musical family, going back to seven generations of us singing. I have learnt singing from my mum Balveer Kaur and father Ajmer Singh Chandan as well as from my late Ustad Rahat Ali.
Rabbabi has been going on for centuries, it is sung with feelings and emotions. You don’t sing Rabbabi for people you sing it for god.
It has been crafted by the veteran luthiers Sanjay Rikhi Ram.The name itself – Swarmandir – is also in honour of the Punjabi Gurdwara, the Golden Temple (also known as “Swarn Mandir”)
You have your own record label DRecords, you have a few big names that you work with, and do you plan to include any other artists?
I will be launching new artists underneath this record label, I want people to achieve their dreams and have a platform to do so. Whoever wants to work with me can, it could be a single, album they can go to www.dalermehndi.com where there is a lot of information and from there we can progress things further.
Your song Tunak Tunak Tun has been appreciated and enjoyed worldwide even so many Youtuber’s have impersonated the video and it has been featured on the video game giant Blizzard Entertainments. Why do you think the song has been such a global hit?
It is a global hit, it is even played at Zumba classes it is popular amongst the non-Indians. The reason for it being such a hit is because it is meaningful there is fun and laughter the video is clean there is not that usual boy-girl story. It is targeted to a mass audience no matter what age. It is just me performing with the 5 elements in the video it is a hit because there is a huge message. The song is for God, even today the song gets hits every hour and no song is near the hits that it has received.
You are known for your extrovert, highly energetic performances. Tell us about your first-ever stage performance?
I was 13 years old when I did my first stage performance it was in front of 20,000 people and this was in Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh. In regards to my energy it comes from within, because I have so much passion for music it is an art and I like to express myself on stage.
Your music is very family orientated, would you agree that ‘family’ is your target audience and how important is creating clean music for you?
For me it is also about what others are seeing. I always bear in mind my audience and I think of children, I want to be a positive role model. I want them to take a good message from me I don’t want to sing songs about alcohol and then the children start drinking. If I give good happy vibes then people will react that way too. I don’t want to be the cause of others doing bad things because of my music. I want everyone to see, appreciate and love the music. I also wear a Pugh and because of this I feel I should spread positivity amongst people.
Moving onto your Pugh, you are known for your signature look with the bejewelled turban, who influenced this idea?
This style is chosen by me.
Recently you were seen fighting against the ban of the turban at the FIBA; do you feel your profile helped create awareness?
Yes we Sikhs have fought a lot, we have gone on wars with our turbans, and therefore we Sikhs will not let anyone ban the Turban so quick.
What would you like to say to the readers and fans of Simply Bhangra?
Keep up the good work promoting Music SimplyBhangra, God bless my fans, respect your parents, stay away from drugs and toxics, do good things in your life make your life beautiful and make it so great that when others see you they become inspired.
Interviewed by Kulwinder Kaur Kainth