Behind popular tracks such as Bullet, Buk Len De, Red Suit Waliye and now AIM, is a talented artist in the States by the name of Kay V Singh. Simply Bhangra’s Trisha Arora had the chance to ask him a few questions following the release of his latest track.
Can you tell us about one specific incident or situation that made you realize your passion for singing?
It was actually pretty out of the ordinary how it all happened for me because I never planned on being a singer at first. As far as the passion goes, I’ve been passionate about music all my life. I started off learning Tabla at the age of 5 and then slowly a little bit of the Harmonium and took minor singing lessons. You know the usual extracurricular child activities.
Once my family moved to America I eventually started playing tabla for the Gurdwara in Michigan, which kept my passion for music alive. But of course, just like most kids, I was focused on school and an actual working career. I decided to pursue engineering, and started going to college for it. But it was here where my career started taking a very long and slow turn.
What you may not know about Kay-V is that he was actually a dancer on his University’s Bhangra team before he started singing!
I was on the Michigan State University bhangra team, strictly for bhangra, but I used to sing songs here and there and the team recognized that I had a pretty decent singing voice. They asked me to start singing for their live bhangra segments and I was hesitant but agreed.
This started a whole new era in my life and eventually I was performing on stage for the team at bhangra competitions around the US. I got better and more passionate about singing to the point where I was more focused on singing than my actual engineering career.
From there, instead of running away from my real passion, I decided to embrace it and go full fledge to pursue it as a career.
Support from loved ones is so important when taking any steps in life, especially the steps into a non- conventional career, how has your family responded to your venture into music?
Just like most parents, they were not ready to handle the risk factor that goes along with an artist’s career. I know that it was the hardest thing for them to accept, because most parents want what’s best for their child of course. And our parents generation, especially ones who have lived majority of their life in India, isn’t exactly open to very many “best” options when it comes to careers. But I knew what I wanted to do and went for it without looking back.
My parents eventually accepted my decision and worked very hard to support me financially and I am very thankful for that.
Before officially starting his journey as a singer, Kay V was pursuing a career in mechanical engineering. Now we know where the inspiration for ‘Bullet’ came from!
If I didn’t follow my passion for music, I would probably be on the 9-5 shift in a car company plant or maybe a Physician’s Assistant as I had also considered going into that. But now when I think about it, I cannot even imagine myself doing that any more. I am happy with where I am. Things always work out for the best.”
Many say that the Punjabi music scene is disappearing and that Bhangra is dying. When asked for his view on this topic, Kay V states:
I guess the answer to this question depends on what we define as “Punjabi Music”. If we’re talking about just a combination of language and music, the way I see it, music is certainly becoming increasingly common in almost every part of the world and certainly in Punjab.
So unless Punjab stops speaking its language, or stops listening to music all together, Punjabi Music will only grow from here. But at the same time, there will always be an evolution in music itself as there has been for thousands of years. As technology improves, instruments improve, so does music production.
Then came the rapidly growing communication across cultures, making it easier and easier for them to mix and get influenced by each other’s music. Add that to the demand for “something different” these days, things are bound to change sooner or later.
So I guess Bhangra is evolving more so than dying. But even then, there will always be people that preserve the pure and original culture and sounds of Punjabi music as well as its original instruments, at least for a very long time. So I guess we’re pretty safe on both ends.
Kay V’s first track was ‘Bullet’ with Epic Bhangra and Mickey Singh. Now although Mickey and Kay V are good friends, many assumed that Mickey was involved simply for promotion purposes.
You and Mickey Singh are great friends. When you came out with your debut track 'Bullet' many said that Mickey actually had nothing to do with the track and that he was just there for promotion. How would you respond to these rumours?
Yes, we are well aware of these rumours, and I guess it’s finally time to clear that up now that you ask.
Mickey and I collaborate on a lot of levels behind the scenes whether its production, vocals, lyrics, general feedback, and just make a pretty good team in general. And as far as our Bullet track goes, the story behind this song is very unique and complicated from how it was born, to where it is now.
But in short, I myself have always been a fan of the bullet bike and wrote and composed this song when I lived in India for a few months. When I wrote it I was super excited for it, but didn’t act on it right away because I wanted to tackle it the right way and at the right time.
Months later, after coming back to the US, Mickey and I were chilling and I showed him the song. And he himself saw a big potential in the song as well and said I was sitting on a hit. So we decided to collaborate on it and make it the best product we could make. We split up tasks and went at it.
Mickey connected me with Epic Bhangra for the music production, as well as Recorded and mixed my vocals. Then we both sat down and planned the video together and one of my close friends and mentor Harwin L’tenti, who’s also managing my upcoming projects, connected us with Speed Records and we all planned the official launch for which I personally went to India to release.
So even though Mickey didn’t sing on this track, there’s actually a lot more to his involvement on it than it seems. Hence why he deserved just as much credit as anyone for this track.
Tell us about the process you go through to come out with each track, starting from coming up with the concept.
Well, just like art has no specific process or algorithm, neither does music!
Hence the name “artists” they give us I guess. You just let your creativity loose. Every song is different. Sometimes you come up with the concept first, sometimes it’s the music, and sometimes it’s just a melody in your head. You just build on it and use your best judgment on where you think you should take it from that initial thought.
The real challenge comes in how you want your song to cater to the listeners, fans, and learning to judge what will work out in the industry and what will not.
And as far as the lyrics go that’s something that comes naturally to me so I personally start with building on the lyrics most of the time. And then see what I want to do with the composition and music from there on. But again, it’s different for every song.
Kay V believes that what sets him apart from other singers is his uniqueness is the amount of musical exposure he’s had to both the Indian music culture and American music culture.
I’ve maintained a pretty good balance when it comes to that. A lot of singers lean a little bit towards one music culture or the other. I’ve spent half of my life here and half in India so I grew up listening to a lot of music from both sides.
And I’ve learned how to read and write Punjabi properly, which is a huge help in my lyrics. All these factors combined open up that many more doors for my creativity and inspiration as you will see in my upcoming music.
What can your fans expect from you next?
I just released my latest audio single “AIM”, on which I also premiered myself as a music producer. And you will be hearing a lot more production from me on my upcoming music.
In addition, right now I am working on collaborations with a few artists including Mickey, Epic Bhangra, Amar Sandhu, PropheC and some surprises in store for the fans as well. I'm trying to bring in a variety of music for you guys in many different genres and keeping things interesting.
At the same time I am also working on my album, for which the prospected release is early next year. But will be sharing more music with you before that in the very near future.
I will also be touring more throughout the US with my booking and management now officially handled by “Artists By eBizMD.” So I'm looking very forward to all of that.”
Artists such as Miss Pooja, Gippy Grewal and Honey Singh have had the opportunities to work in Bollywood. If you had the opportunity, would you take it? Why or why not?
Yes, but depending only on the right circumstances and if I feel that I can do justice to that opportunity. For me it is mainly dependent on the type of genre of music.
I am looking for something very specific when it comes to being introduced in Bollywood. But we’ll see what the future holds, as newer opportunities arise often in this career and your craft improves in a lot of different ways.
Thank you for the interview, any message to the SimplyBhangra.com readers?
I want to first thank all of my fans for appreciating the work I put into my music whether they like just one of my songs or all of them, every bit of appreciation matters to me and motivates me.
And I hope to continue making the music you want to hear from me, with the variety that caters to newer and newer audience at the same time.
As artist, we are a reflection of your taste of music and try to cater to you guys best we can. So keep supporting! I'm looking forward to sharing much more music with you guys!
Interview by Trisha Arora