Exclusive 'Shin (DCS)' Interview
Very few Bhangra bands can say that they have survived the test of time, however DCS have been representing bhangra worldwide for over 20 years, arguably the best bhangra band in the world, they are now back to rock dancefloors worldwide with the release of their brand new album 'Desi Culture Shock'. The album will feature a massive 14 tracks along with 4 skits and a musical piece. On the eve of the release of their new album, SimplyBhangra.com caught up with the lead vocalist; Shin. Check out the Exclusive Interview!
For those outside of the UK who don’t know about Shin give us a brief introduction about you and the band DCS.
DCS is a Bhangra Band and we have about 15 hit albums and singles out. If your in to Bhangra and have not heard of DCS then your living on another planet. Go to www.dcs-band.com and educate your self!
As DCS goes, the new album ‘Desi Culture Shock’ is releasing in the coming month, what was the idea behind the name of the album and what type of sound can we expect?
The album is dropping officially on February 9th 07’ and will take about a week to get every where. For years we have searched for a name that worked with the initials of the band, and all we could ever come up with were things like ‘Digbeth Coach Station’ or ‘Danny Can’t Sing’ and some others that I can not mention here. So when a friend of ours ( KC) suggested ‘Desi Culture Shock’ we jumped at it because it describes the feel and mood of the album. The sound is similar to our last album ‘Punjabi Dance Nation’ combining heavily layered live playing with sampled and sequenced sounds.
Its good to see DCS back doing a proper Bhangra album, is this something you felt you really had to do, after a long absence of almost 8 years since Punjabi Dance Nation in 1998
DCS has always carried the hard earned reputation of being the Best live Bhangra Band, probably in the world! This reputation has made us one of the busiest bands around, which is great but unfortunately it also means we spend less time in the studio working on new material, and this is one of the main reasons it always takes us a long time to finish recordings. Bands are releasing less and less material in our days which is a shame and I think that this is one of the reasons for the decline of the live scene. DCS intend to fly the live flag as long as we can and try and turn things around again.
The collaboration with Juggy D is something that has intrigued everyone, how did the collaboration with him come about?
I was messing around with this idea for a duet with another male artist for a long time. I did not want to go with the obvious choices that were available to me, instead I wanted to create a pairing that would stir curiosity and surprise amongst all that heard about it, and I think this combination has certainly done that.
When I spoke to Juggy and Rishi about my idea they were all for it and thought it would be a great project. I think that Juggy D and DCS hail from a school of Bhangra that is not typically Desi, but we are very proud of our Punjabi heritage and do not hide our Punjabiness. We represent British Asian Bhangra, and I personally fly that flag all over the world.
It was great fun working with Juggy, he is a hard working artist and really loves what he does and it shows in his performances.
You could call it the bringing together of old and new school Bhangra to show, that both actually go hand in hand and live side by side in perfect harmony and respect for one another.
Your one of the few UK vocalists who have stood the test of time in the Bhangra scene, in the last few years there have been a lot of new UK born vocalists coming through, who are the ones you believe have the potential to push on and create a big name for themselves?
I have heard many good and aspiring vocalists out there who want to make a name for them selves, I won’t mention any names but I will give them some advice. Work hard at your craft and exercise discipline with yourself. Never take your voice for granted, it is a gift from God, thank him for it every day and respect it, and you will gain some thing from it.
You had a song on Sukshinder Shinda’s latest blockbuster release ‘Collaborations’ as we know the last time you and him combined it created the monster track ‘Daroo’. However was ‘Kurhi Akhiyan Nall’ more experimental for you and can we expect more English vocals from you on the new album?
I recorded ‘Kurhi Akhiyan Nall’ for Shinda when I recorded ‘Daroo’ which was about 5 years ago, and it had a very different form then. I like what Shinda has done with the song and it sounds quite different from all the other tracks on ‘Collaborations’. I have not sung in English in any of the songs on ‘Desi Culture Shock’, but I do on a couple of the skits which is not really serious stuff. I would love to do some English stuff and am working on some thing at the moment so watch this space.
The popular thing to say now days is ‘Bhangra is dying’ or that Bhangra in longer what it was in the UK, how far do you agree with this view?
People who say that Bhangra is dying don’t know what they are talking about, there is much more Bhangra being produced today than there ever was and Bhangra shows are still selling out. I’ve seen many a dance floor come to life when a Bhangra tune hits the speakers, not only in the UK, but all over the world, so what are these people on about. Yes! I believe there are some people out there who would love to see Bhangra die, and are always ready to give it a good bashing every opportunity they get. But they are willing in vain. Long live Bhangra!!
For the past 10 years the live band scene has been in slow decline, however most recently its picked up again with massive events like ‘Kings Of King’. Unlike other acts you’ve always kept it live, do you feel in the long term that live acts need to be sustained for Bhangra to move forward?
I think that live bands give another dimension to the whole scene. There is room for DJs and Bands to co exist, they both have their own place and appeal in Bhangra. A good live band is something that needs to be experienced by everyone, the energy and interaction that is produced by DCS at a gig can not be matched. The live scene is definitely going through resurgence at the moment and many artists that were doing PAs before, are starting to perform with live bands now or incorporating live bits to their acts. They themselves know the buzz that they get from performing live can not be matched by doing a PA. I think that the audience is also becoming wise to the fact that PAs are a bit of a cop out, and is cheating really. Any real artist would be reluctant to do a PA whether it is a Bhangra artist or Mainstream…and we all know Sir Elton John’s views on the subject…true say!
A lot of albums tend to come out that have almost no element of any instrumentation, I tend to call them ‘laptop jobs’ as it is so easy to produce an album these days with a few samples and loops, have all your albums been created with the live band playing everything that is heard?
Back in the day we used to record every thing live, in studios that could accommodate live bands and record 10 people at a time. But today those kinds of studios are few and far between, so some of the production is done on computers. But 80% of DCS recording is still live. I love working with musicians as you can get a great vibe on a track and bounce ideas back and forth and be spontaneous.
It’s very important for a producer to know the basics of composition and the elements required to make a song. It should be like painting a picture, adding colours and textures to make some thing beautiful. It should not be like making a jigsaw puzzle that does not fit properly and has pieces missing. Unfortunately ‘Laptop Jobs’ as you refer to them, usually turn out like a bad jigsaw puzzle.
Whats been playing in your CD player recently?
I listen to anything and everything that is well produced and saying something to me. As someone that loves the arts I do believe that listening to only one style of music is very unhealthy for a musician, and one should expose themselves to a musical diet that is varied; as the doctor says, that is the way to grow strong and healthy as an artist.
Back in 2005 you organised a Tsunami charity single ‘Patha Ni Jind Kadh Mukh Jandi’, which featured Taz, Jassi Sidhu, Sukhbir and yourself. No figures were released about how much it raised, can you shed any light on how much was actually raised by the album?
I don’t actually know how much money was raised and donated to the charities, but I would like to believe that it was a substantial amount. The people at Moviebox would be best placed to answer that question.
Some artists in the industry have professions outside of their music career. Does music dominate your life or do you have a career outside that demands your time?
I have been a full time Vocalist/ Musician/ Producer since 1990. Bhangra has been very good to me and I consider myself very fortunate that I have been able to earn a living from doing the job I most love. I think if you have real talent then you can make a full time job of making music, but you must be in it for the right reasons.
You’ve been in the music scene for over 20 years now, do you ever see yourself hanging up the mic and taking a long extended break from music?
I do believe that I was born to sing, and I do see my self singing all the way to the grave. When the day comes that no one wants to hear me any more, then I will sing for myself again….as I used to before anyone knew who I was. I am the happiest man on earth when I am singing, it is like praying for me and there is definitely a very spiritual vibe that I feel when I do my Riyaaz ( daily vocal practise)
The latest trend for Bhangra artists has been to enter the bollywood market; do you see yourself doing any songs for bollywood soundtracks?
I have been asked many times by music directors and producers to come and work in Bollywood, BUT!! this would mean that I would have to drop every thing here, and spend time out there in that rat race market where the casting couch is still very much a reality. I would have to go and struggle in a industry where it’s who you know, and not what you know, that gets results. I would have to swallow my pride in the city where you can buy yourself 10 minuets of fame if you have enough money. I leave next week!!
DCS are probably the best live act out there right now, what plans have you got for touring worldwide to promote your new album?
DCS have just got back from Vancouver where we did some shows as a pre launch for the album. Juggy D was out there with us and we were performing at ‘The Vancouver International Bhangra Celebrations’ it was great fun doing the new track live with Juggy on stage. There are plans to go just about anywhere where there are Punjabi people on the globe to promote not only the new album, but also the magic of live music and the flavour of British Asian Bhangra.
SimplyBhangra.com wishes you all the best with your forthcoming release, any final words for the readers?
I would just like to say to all your readers and any DCS fans out there, that we have worked really hard on this album, and taken our time to make sure that we delivered a monster double CD album.
I do hope you all enjoy it and that it brings you lots of pleasure. Just one thing though, I would urge you all to buy an original copy and not a pirate, and if you want to down load then go to sites like i- Tunes, and download the original quality versions of your favourite songs. We want to make better music for you to enjoy….help us to do that! Love and respect to all. Keep it real!