Tarli Digital has fast established himself as one of the leading producers in the Bhangra scene. After delivering two solo albums he finally returned in 2009 for the highly anticipated 15 track 'Project Rehab' album. SimplyBhangra.com caught up with Tarli for this exclusive interview.
Your third and most recent massive 15 track album "Project Rehab" was one of the most anticipated releases of 2009. Did the high expectations from fans weigh a lot on you when coming out with the album?
Tarli Digital: The Expectations were higher than I thought; the album released 5 years after TD2 which left a big void in my career, however the response was amazing and Rehab has been received well.
Going back 7 years, your debut album "The Dub Conspiracy" hitting # 1 on the BBC Asian Network Charts in its release week and the song Nachde Punjabi doing some serious damage to dance floors worldwide. How has life changed for you since then? What did that experience teach you?
Tarli Digital:: The biggest challenge for me was to prove it wasn’t a “fluke” I have continuously kept my feet on the ground and carried on learning and developing my sound and style. The biggest life changing experience was meeting Dalvinder Singh; we met at the earliest stages in both our careers and have formed an unbreakable team of like minded musicians thriving for the same goal.
With all the success that you have today, it wasn’t all that easy in the beginning until Moviebox happened. What do you think that Moviebox saw in you as a producer that other record labels did not?
Tarli Digital: Moviebox are a label that thrives on new challenges and ideas, my sound and concept was not understood by others whereas Moviebox took me in and gave me the creative freedom to present my ideas. Back then a majority of labels did not make time for newcomers as they were doing fine with the artists they had.
How has being born and raised in Birmingham, considered to be the focal point of Bhangra in the UK and worldwide, shaped your career as a producer?
Tarli Digital: As a newcomer, being based in Birmingham was very helpful as locally we have a lot of resources (studios and musicians) and access to these was easy. I feel there is genuinely a lot of unity within the local Bhangra community in Birmingham and I was welcomed with open arms and warmth from senior artists.
Do you think that working with several other producers on an album restricts your artistic freedom as compared to say working on your own album? And have you ever had to compromise when in a collaboration?
Tarli Digital : When I work on a track for a “multi produced” Album, I stay focused on my own track. I feel the work I am offered is based on my credibility and the artist usually gives me creative freedom. The only compromise I have to make is that I have to work around a melody/idea of someone else, which sometimes does not necessarily tie with my usual style, but I love working and collaborating with others, it gives me an opportunity to learn and expand on my own style and to try something different.
) Is there any particular producer/artist out there with whom you would like to collaborate with on a future project given that you have worked with so many illustrious names already?
Tarli Digital: Yes I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with great talents such as Surinder Shinda, Mangi Mahal, Sabar Koti, Saleem and many other amazing vocalists. I would like to get a chance to collaborate with more UK artists if possible, but my main goal is to record with artists such as Sukhwinder Singh, Sardool Sikandar, Kailash Kher and other artists from India
Growing up, which artists were your biggest inspiration? And in terms of production styles, whom do you admire the most?
Tarli Digital: I got Inspiration from legendary bands like Apna Sangeet, Shaktee, Anakhi, Pardesi Music Machine, DCS, Safri Boyz , SatRang and acts like B21 and Bally Sagoo.
With so many young producers stepping up these days do you think that the future of Bhangra is in good hands? Or do you feel that a lot of people are rushing in too early without fine-tuning their production skills thereby having the risk of fading too soon?
Tarli Digital: I do not think there are many young producers around, yes we have had some awesome new talent in recent years like Tru Skool, Specialist, Gupsy Aujla, Sangra Vibes and a few others but a majority of the other young producers are not real but manufactured by studios. I still have that craving to learn music I did 10 years ago, but I feel that not many young producers have an Identity, which they will only gain by having their own sound.
What is that one moment that stands out in your journey as a producer, the one that gave you the most satisfaction professionally?
Tarli Digital: The opportunity to work with Soni Pabla posthumously, although the intention to collaborate with him on Project Rehab was unfortunately not fulfilled, I was given the opportunity to complete the song with contributions from Tej Hundal and Sukhdev Darapuria for the tribute album Eternity
Your top 3 Bhangra tunes, not produced by yourself?
Tarli Digital:: Dhulla Bhatti: Kuldeep Manak Sajana: Dippa Sat-Rang Chankata Penda: Pardesi Music Machine
What is your take on "ghost production", a term that has become synonymous with Bhangra music industry of late? Is it killing originality in your opinion?
Tarli Digital: It is definitely killing originality but you cannot blame the studios or those that ghost produce, the ones to blame are a) those that walk out of a studio knowing that their song sounds like the song from yesterday on next mans album and b) the silly consumers who fall for big PR Campaigns and fail to hear the similarity in the music.
A lot of Bhangra artists/producers have had mainstream success with their distinct styles. Where do you see the industry in the next decade? Can a bhangra artist/producer still be at the top of his game without going mainstream?
Tarli Digital: Of course he can, prime example: Jazzy B With regards to the industry in the next ten years, it’s looking bleak, unless the consumer wakes up and smells the coffee, there’s no chance. There is no longer any commitment to the bhangra industry from most consumers, 90% of the bhangra audience downloads illegally, and are happy with listening to weak and recycled music. If the consumer invested into the industry as it used to before the MP3 era, there would be more quality and quantity. You can say that yes you can download legally, but record labels suggest otherwise.
Do you think, in all honesty, that we have a dearth of quality vocalists at the moment?
Tarli Digital: Of Course, I can count all the worthy UK Born Vocalists on one hand, but again who do we blame? The consumer for failing to demand quality, the vocalist for failing learn or the music producer who don’t give a sh*t as long as he is getting paid?
From which region do you think will the next big boost to Bhangra music come from considering the fact that slowly but surely it is becoming a rage globally?
Tarli Digital: I think all regions will have something to offer, as the duet culture is slowing down in India, solo vocalists will emerge. Also the UK is looking bright with JK and Jaz Dhami so let’s hope there are others who will enter the arena.
Any exclusive news/info on your upcoming projects for your fans and what can they expect from you in the coming months considering your work always creates a lot of buzz?
Tarli Digital: I’ve Recently completed Dalvinder Singh’s new album and I am currently working on the debut album for Noordeep Lally, who sang Jat Da Lalkara on Project Rehab. Also I’ve started the next TD album but I promise I will not take 5 years on this one lol
Thanks a lot for taking out time to talk to us. Any message for the readers of SimplyBhangra.com?
Tarli Digital: Thank you for taking out time to read this interview, if you disagree with anything I have said please forgive me, please support our industry because without you we are nothing and without us you won’t have any music...until the next time PEACE!!'Project Rehab' from Tarli Digital is out now in all good asian music stores and via iTunes & Play.com. Buy the CD at MovieboxOnline.co.uk