Saini Surinder, famous for his tracks Preet Kaureh, Bindrakhia Tribute, Rehnde, Sida Sada and many more hits caught up with Simply Bhangra's Trisha Arora for an exclusive interview.
How did you start your career as a singer?
Well I started very young at school. I used to participate in many different events at school as a singer singing qawwalis and as an actor where possible. However during college I got more opportunities towards singing rather than acting, so my interest towards singing grew. I also sang boliyan with a dhol for at least 6 hours non-stop when rehearsing for bhangra competitions.
This was with my college bhangra team, which helped my vocals vastly. From these competitions I received recognition for my vocals from judges. The judges kept stating that my vocals were great rather than focusing on the Bhangra dancers, this gave me great confidence during each competition that I participated in. From this build up of confidence from every competition, I felt maybe I should step into a singing career.
Which country's audience is your favourite and why?
This is a hard one, I can't pick just one country. Every place that I have visited to perform, I have been accepted and without all my fans around the world I would not be where I am today. Therefore I cannot pick, I love all my fans all around the world.
Tell us about the process of recording Kehra Roakda and making the video.
Well my bro Dj Vix approached me to work on a song for his album 'Chapter V', I agreed and we then started looking for lyrics that we both liked. We managed to find the lyrics for 'Kehra Roakda' from a writer called Sabhi Dhilwan, from then we started on the song itself. Once the song was recorded and finished we had a meeting with my Label Moviebox.
During this meeting we planned and confirmed that the video shoot should take place in India. So then DJ Vix and Myself flew to India to shoot the video. Once we got to India we met Sumit Bhardwaj a video director in Chandigarh. He had presented a concept to us both that we both felt was great for the song.
So then we got started on the video shoot, it was absolutely hot around 40 Degrees at the time. There was some fight scenes that due to a little mistake DJ Vix got hurt and his head was bleeding. But this didn't stop him at all, he carried on in the raging heat and throughout the night to ensure that we got every shot we needed to complete the shoot.
Once the first cut came back to us both we didn't feel the need to cut anything out because it was filmed and edited brilliantly. I salute all our fans that saw our hard work and supported on the release of 'Kehra Roakda' and purchased their copies legally.
Do you feel that your singing has changed since you started your career? How so?
Yes I do feel that my singing has changed since I started my career. When I first started singing professionally I used to sing on a low key. However now I currently sing songs on F Sharp.
This was a big change for me. In 2007 I was on my way to a performance which I had with Kaka Bhaniawala. During the car journey for jokes I was interviewing Kaka Paaji and I asked him how it felt that I sing higher than he does. Along with us was a backing vocalist who started teasing me a lot calling me a high pitch singer, and commenting every chance that he got.
This got me very angry, and within my heart I wanted to show him that I could sing at a high pitch. I wanted to show this all that within a month. So then every morning as I woke, I sat with my Harmonium; breakfast, lunch and dinner was served to me while I was sat in one place practising. I stopped going to the sports ground where I used to play football to ensure that I reached my goal. I also used to go the fields at night and sing till11pm/12am.
After a month had passed by I recorded a song at a studio in the key of A Sharp. I asked the same backing vocalist to come and listen to the song. He didn't believe that I had sang the song and stated that I had used a computer to pitch the vocals to A Sharp. He also stated that he wanted to hear me sing the song live with a harmonium. Once I sang for him live with the harmonium he was lost for words, totally with shock; he didn't know what to say.
At the time I hated the backing vocalist so much for hurting me the way he did, however as much as I hated him after the song was recorded I started to respect him. This is because if he didn't push me and hurt me the way he did, I would not be the singer that I am today.
What is your strongest asset as a singer? What sets you apart from others in the industry?
My strongest asset as a singer is that I ensure that the key that I have recorded songs within the studio, I am also able to sing in the same key live on stage. This is to ensure that when I sing live that I give a like for like sound, if not even better sound for the fans from the purchases they made and listen to in their cars, headphones etc.
What are some of the sacrifices you have made in order to advance your career?
The first sacrifice that I made was food, I would work two three days without food, this was hard as everybody needs food to function. Haha, also the funny thing is that I am so lazy; in my whole life before music I would not ruin my sleep or sleep without my bed. However when it came to my career, I kept working and didn't know what sleep was.
If I did sleep I would use a newspaper and put that across the floor and sleep on top of it. I never used to leave food, sleep or my bed when I was young, but however when it came to my career I left all three. Due to these sacrifices I can now look back and say it was worth it.
When asked what he would be doing if he were not a singer, Saini told us that he would have a career in law or maybe as a JCB Operator. Singing in the courtroom would be pretty cool though!
What is your favourite part about being an artist?
My favourite part about being an artist is that when I am singing live on stage and I can see my fans. They are all there to see me and they sing along with me to my songs with so much enthusiasm and excitement it makes my performances even more fun and memorable.
I truly cherish the moments I share with my fans and supporters.
What advice do you have for aspiring singers?
My advise for aspiring singers is that they should work hard, find good lyrics, and never cheat anybody as it will not help you. Also along with Bhangra songs, release religious/dharmik songs as well as songs promote noble causes.
As public figures, we have a duty to society. Often fans, specially the youth are influenced by popular songs, so why not use our songs to create a positive influence!
How do you prepare for a live performance?
If I tell the truth then when I leave my house for the shows, I do not think to what I am going to perform on stage. I do not have a schedule to what I am going to sing when, even when I am backstage I have no idea to what I am about to perform. Once I reach the stage and I see my fans and the love that they give me.
I get great energy from them and an adrenaline rush that I know exactly what I am going to sing for my fans at that specific time. Also the musicians in my band that I perform with, quickly read me and know exactly what I need and what my fans need.
So I also have to thank my team of musicians for always doing what they do best and performing alongside me.
Is there anything you will like to say to the readers of SimplyBhangra.com?
Thank you SimplyBhangra for your support and promoting me from day 1. Thank you to all the readers/fans for your love.
Follow Saini on social media!
Interview by Trisha Arora