Exclusive Interview with XLNC

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XLNC are bona fide legends of Bhangra. In an era that saw huge developments in Asian music, they shone as one of the 90s’ biggest Bhangra bands. Their debut album R U Ready earned them a Gold disc, and their sales around the globe are coupled with tours across Japan, India, America and more.

And it’s no surprise that XLNC still remain a formidable force. Characterized by their professionalism, dedication and perfectionism, they’ve had hit after hit and dominated dancefloors for two decades with their vivacious live performances. Ask your aunties and uncles to attest to that. Then ask for their wedding videos as proof!

XLNC are back again, alongside their original frontman, the incomparable Harbhajan Talwar! They speak exclusively to SimplyBhangra about their return, the importance of live music and their future plans.

XLNC, it’s an honour to feature you guys!

Thank you very much for having us!

“XLNC weren’t the same without Harbhajan Talwar and Harbhajan Talwar wasn’t the same without XLNC.”

We first heard about you reuniting with Harbhajan Talwar nearly two years ago. What led to that? What made you see that as the time to do it?

XLNC was still going as a band, but we took a little break. And we felt it was time for us to make a comeback as the original XLNC band with Harbhajan Talwar. It just made sense; XLNC weren’t the same without Harbhajan Talwar and Harbhajan Talwar wasn’t the same without XLNC. So, phone calls were made, meetings took place and the rest is history. We are now back and better than ever!

XLNC now fronted again by the returning, long-serving Harbhajan Talwar

What’s kept you busy from the reformation to now?

After we reformed, we rehearsed with the boys and got back onto the live circuit – XLNC is all about live music! Since then, we’ve been gigging up and down the country.

We also signed a record deal with Moviebox, so we’ve been working very hard recording our new album Déjà Vu, which is out now on iTunes!

The lead-off single from Déjà Vu is a remix of Mere Yaar Ne, one of your classic hits. How did you make the choice to return with that? Was new-meets-old a conscious decision?

Mere Yaar Ne was originally done back in 1994. It was released on our debut album R U Ready. We wanted to do the track again – it’s a special track for us. We didn’t do it as a comeback track; we did it because it was something we wanted to do as a band.

Relishing a special and revamped track: Mere Yaar Ne 2K11:

Mere Yaar Ne 2K11 is produced by PBN. What drew you to him? How did that collaboration happen?

We met Heps (PBN) at a gig a few years ago. I felt, with the production from Heps, Mere Yaar Ne can be a great track once again after so many years. The collaboration just clicked. We met with Heps and he was more than happy to do the track for us, and he’s done a great job with it! It’s an awesome tune.

The new album Déjà Vu features remixes of your classic hits in addition to, fingers crossed, soon-to-be classics! Tell us more about the album and which producers you’ve worked with.

With two years in the making, we’ve worked very hard on this album. We’ve done three remixes and we’re also presenting to everyone five brand new tracks!

We’ve redone Mere Yaar Ne, Tappe – both of which have videos, playing now – and, one of my favourites, Kurti Pidge Gaye.

We’ve worked with DJ Sanj, Tigerstyle, Kam Frantic, Jeeti, PBN and Surinder Rattan, and I [XLNC’s Abrar Nazir] have produced two of the new tracks on the album.

Surinder Ratten, one of seven producers on Déjà Vu, reworks Tappe (featuring MC Metz):

Will you be touring to support the album?

Absolutely! We’re off to Italy and Norway to do shows there, and we’re planning to return to Japan as well. We will be working hard promoting Déjà Vu, so keep an eye out for us wherever you are!

“There are only a handful of bands in this industry, and that’s a shame.”

How important is it to bring live music back?

Extremely important. There are only a handful of bands in this industry, and that’s a shame. Back in the 80s and 90s, it was all about live music. Those were the days! But you have to move with the times. DJs have their market and people who want to book live bands will book live bands. Our aim is to perform live. We are a full live band, and that’s what we’re going to do.

Does it worry you that promoters tend to favour PAs over live bands, simply to cut costs? What are your thoughts on the current climate?

Again, you have to move with the times. It’s about what the public want as well. Youngsters nowadays generally prefer a PA, while some do appreciate live music. But the industry’s big enough for everyone to have a platform. It’s just a shame that live music isn’t promoted like it was back 10 years ago…

Harbhajan Talwar live

In the past few years, we’ve seen the resurgence of old-school Bhangra bands and events like The Bhangra Legends Concert. What does that shift, and the way it’s attracted old and new audiences, mean to you?

It’s such a fantastic thing. We performed at The Bhangra Legends Concert, and seeing the crowd enjoying and actually appreciating the musicians and the singers was great. That’s what it’s all about. It just goes to show that there is no age barrier. We just need more people to support and bring live music back!

“Our mission has been the same since day one; record good music and perform live.”

As a band who’ve accomplished so much, what is your mission now? What drives you?

Our mission has been the same since day one; record good music and perform live. It’s our passion and we love doing it. We will continue to do so until all the guys are OAPs with walking sticks! [Laughs] But we just want to put good music out there for all our fans to enjoy.

What do you have lined up for all your fans in the upcoming months?

The comeback album Déjà Vu is finally here! So, we will be touring around the world promoting our new album. We’ll also be working on our EP, which will be out early 2012.

We have had a long break, so, after Déjà Vu, we won’t keep you guys waiting too long. All being well, we’ll constantly be dropping new material!

XLNC in 2011: Back, better than ever and ready to drop new material

Guys, thank you so much for the interview! What message would you like to close on for the SimplyBhangra readers?

We would like to say a big thank you to SimplyBhangra for supporting us.

To all our fans; it’s been a while, but XLNC are now back and better than ever! Please do check out our new album Déjà Vu. We have worked very hard on it. It’s got some surprises on there and I’m sure you guys will enjoy it.

Keep it real, keep supporting live music. Without you guys, we are nothing. We thank you so much for your continuous support!

Interview by Govinda Lakha.

Questions completed by XLNC’s Sam and Abrar Nazir.

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