Shahin Badar is a versatile Award winning Singer/Songwriter, acclaimed worldwide for her vocals in The Prodigy's banger, 'Smack My Bitch Up', and made her legendary. She has collaborated with various world renowned producers across the world covering music genres like EDM, Trance, House, TripHop, Pop, Sufi over which she implemented her production ideas. Her collaborations includes the likes of Indian Ropeman, Bobina, Gemini Brothers, Noise Control, Doug Laurent, Kaya Project, Gio Makyo, Jah Wobble, FX, Fraser T Smith, Twista and Juliet Lewis and many more. She is also credited with successful albums like 'Laila' and 'Destiny'. Recently my vocal Chants of 'Smack My Bitch Up' got sampled by USA Rapper ASAP Ferg for his single 'Floor Seats', and also in a series BALLERS starring Dwayne Johnson. Both hugely successful in USA.
Shahin Badar's vocal contributions feature in over 50 international film and TV soundtracks like the UK Music Hall of Fame, the Lara Croft Tomb Raider:2, Charlie's Angels, Scary Movie 2, Closer, US sitcoms North Shore and Kevin Hill, and Sky News broadcasts. She has also sung in Bollywood movies for A.R. Rahman in Zubieda & Yuva, Dhai Akshar Prem Ke to name a few. Raga to Rock caught up Shahin Badar during her stay in Mumbai to find out about her Remix versions of 'Jaag' and her future plans.
Tell us about your song 'Jaag'
'Jaag' is an edgy and hypnotic song about women empowerment, that revolves around awakening one’s resolve for independence, breaking the shackles of misogyny and appeals to the listeners to move forward without being tied down by age-old customs and norms.I have released 4 Remix versions of my single ‘Jaag’, the remixes have been produced by world famous EDM Producers like DJPodje from Ireland of “4SuMotion”, he has produced the Vocal & Dub Mix. The 3rd remix has been produced by UK DJ & Producer Juttla and the final track is also produced by UK based Kaya Project.They have done a fantastic job on the remixes.
Tell us how do you use your work for the empowerment of women ?
To me basic core of humanity is understanding and respect. All my Music videos have a message for women about her Power, Strength, Belief, Struggles and Guidance, who continues to fight for her rights through peace, understanding and knowledge.and that is what I am trying to spread to the world.
Who inspired you to be a Musician?
My mother is my inspiration, she trained under Naushadsaab and Emdad Khan Sarangiwala. As she was not allowed to pursue music as a career, it was passed on to me! My mother also writes Ghazals as a hobby, she has penned two of my tracks "Laila" and "Jhoom Jhoom" on my debut album.
Give us a few names and experiences with the legendary Artists who you have worked with?
I have had the pleasure to work with several Legends, all were unique. Its honour to work with Hollywood Music composer Michael Dannah for the film, 'The Hulk', I shall always remember the way he greeted me. A.R.Rahman was a little shy but a wonderful person to work with, we had some great laughs. Above all great respect goes out to our legendary big beats man Liam Howlett, when recording my vocals for 'Smack My Bitch up' it was truly exceptional.
How does it feel being called the voice of The Prodigy?
You made me smile, I guess the chant on 'Smack My Bitch Up' has left it's mark in the history of EDM music. A great honour to be associated with The Prodigy. At their concerts, to hear the fans sing along to the chant with such devotion is unbelievable, used to brings tears to my eyes. The Prodigy fans around the world are No.1 and I love their humility and crazy energy!
How do you feel with the loss of Keith Flint?
It just does not feel the same without Keith Flint. May his soul rest in peace.
Why have you not sung in Bollywood soundtracks?
I have recorded three tracks with Oscar winner A.R.Rahman. My vocals featured on the track, 'Dol Dol' on Mani Ratnam's film Yuva and I also delivered alaap chants on the back ground score of the film Zubeida. I am stil waiting for Azizi to be released. A fine track produced by Rahman and written by Mehboob.I would like to do more work. Over the years, I was extremely busy taking care of my parents. I haven't had much chance to take time out for myself until now, I am also hoping to work with some cool Music Producers from India this year.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Would love to continue with my travels around the world, meet beautiful people who will keep enriching my life with their knowledge of grace and kindness. Rest we hope, depends on the Almighty's Good Will.
Sadasivan KM Nambisan better known as Sadu is a singer, composer, lyricist and producer and founding member of The Aryans one of the biggest indie rock bands India has produced. He learnt western classical piano under keyboardist V C Varghese and Hindustani classical vocals under Pandit Brijmohan Dixit. He got his first opportunity to play keyboard at the age of 19, with an orchestra at the local Durga Pooja festival. Sadu then went on to play in a several orchestras before starting to play professionally with the Sargam Musical Group of Madhya Pradesh. In 1998 he along with D J Narain and Jai Walia formed The Aryans. The same year they launched their first album on Polygram Records. Ankhon Mein Tera Hi Chehra became a super hit and they have never looked back since.
Here Sadu talks to RagatoRock about his eventful journey and passion for music.
Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Sadasivan KM Nambisan but professionally I am known as SADU. I was born on 7th September in Kerala, till I was a teenager I grew up in Ooty, and later on in Madhya Pradesh since my Dad was with the defense services, he was transferred regularly. My academic qualification is Master of Science in Organic Chemistry with specialization in Environment science, I am a half scientist. Also in sports I have clocked 10.69 seconds in 100 meter sprint and won bronze medal in the all India inter university championships. Then finally I shifted to Mumbai to pursue Music.
When did you get interested in music?
I started of my music career in a small town with an orchestra group but was keen in making my own songs hence shifted to Mumbai in 1996 and met DJ Narain & Jai Walia to form Aryans . Universal Music formerly known as PolyGram launched us with our first sound track album for the movie, ‘Ankhon Mein Tera Hi Chehra’ starring Shahid Kapur, which was an instant Hit in 1999. Then followed ‘Yeh Hawa Kehti Hai Kya’ in 2000 & ‘Dekha Hai Teri Ankhon Ko’ in 2003, all blockbusters, and then poured in extravaganza of awards - MTV, Channel V, B4U, ETC and what not.. We then grabbed lots of concerts all over the Globe. Me and DJ released ‘Hai Dil’ with Times Music & ‘Kehta Hai Dil Yahi bar Bar’ with T-Series in the year 2006 and 2009 respectively. They did Ok but then we had our own commitments too.
Is that when you decided to go solo?
I own a Pharmaceutical Company named Sadu Pharma, Time passed by we kept on doing concerts. Then I released my first solo of two Ghazal-Rock singles with Times Music in 2015. It did pretty well, the music was an amalgamation of guitar, drums & ghazal written by Jigar Muradabadi. I started a video production company ‘Seventh Angle Production’ and later on ‘Sadu Music’, the Music Company which is specifically and only for Independent Music Releases. I am a Singer, Composer & Lyricist and it's easy for me to produce songs. My production is in full swing. I am planning to release 10 to 15 Solo Pop-Rock mesmerizing and amazing singles every year. To start with am releasing 2 singles in 2019 under my music label.
What do you think of the independent music scene in India?
Indian music scene is quite dim, I mean music should not be imposed on you. For the last 70 years we have been strictly forced to listen to film songs. All through the years the ways and means of music exposure and platforms to exhibit or showcase any kind music was either radio or television, which were primarily dominated by playing film songs.
Indian audiences have been deprived of exposure to the wide spectrum of music which could have been commercially viable. In fact the Indian flavour and essence of musiclike folk, sufi, classical & spiritual music is not getting the recognition it deserves. The British left us decades ago but unfortunately we Indians are carrying the hangover of still being slaves mentally and accept everything we've being served.
Why has India not produced any great independent artistes, compared to the West where music is propelled by musicians and bands?
Talking about Rock and pop stars of the west look at Bryan Adams, Dire Straits, Queen, Eagles, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Madonna, George Michael, John Bon Jovi, what tremendous attitude they have in their songs. India saw a few bands and artists with attitude in the late nineties and early 2000, Lucky Ali, Silk Route, us The Aryans, Euphoria, Parikrama , Falguni Pathak, Daler Mehdi, Sukhbir, Ali Haider, Nazia Hassan are few names who started and created new west kind trend of pop-rock culture in India but faded out getting over shadowed by film music.
What are your views on cover and DJ versions of popular hits?
People climb on cloud nine and glorify themselves when they do an elegantly safe job COVER of an already hit song again. Plagiarism, brother it's a copy. Singing an old song out of passion in a bathroom is fine but any commercial usage leads to a challenge and disrespect to the original creation and creator. I will definitely call them spineless, that's the reason I started off this paragraph with 'people' and not singers. It's as if you are putting your name plate on somebody else's home.
Dressing up to the best and shooting a music video of a copied song shows how desperate they are to achieve temporary success. These shortcomings never stay for long. I always say 10 claps for your own song is way better than ten thousand claps for a cover song. Sing and enjoy your own song. According to me if you can't create music you should Quit, you should do a job elsewhere.
It seems that is what people want, so what then is the way forward?
I should say Indians are possessed and obsessed by films and its songs. There's more in store. It's high time to overthrow the prejudices made by few individuals of riding films on songs, unaware of the later consequences on the original music. It's unfortunate that lot of independent musicians have not been recognized and given worth as they deserve, avenues and careers of lots of musicians have been shattered by this trend in the last few decades. I would request all aspiring young musicians of India to come out in full bloom with their original music whatever genre it may be - instrumental, folk, songs, ghazals, plays, qawwali, bhajans, rock, pop and let the world know you.
What are independent artistes doing about this and will it really make a difference?
I do know a few upcoming artists with immense talent who are swimming against this worse tide and fighting the whirlwind, good luck and God be with them, I am optimistic and anticipate a great lot of change in Indian Independent Music. I also expect that the audience realizes, accepts and chooses independent music as mainstream music and not film songs.
What is your advice to young and upcoming artistes?
Now since it's digital music all over, there are more options to showcase and sell your music I invite all good talents on floor. My advice to youngsters is to not make music on demand or for others, make your music with passion without any restrictions for yourself and enjoy it, the world will enjoy with you. Make your own way and do not flow with the river. Never make or do music for bread and butter. Till the end of this planet music will be created and heard but the spine and Essence is simple melody and nice lyrics.
Ranjit Barot hardly needs an introduction. Internationally acclaimed as a drummer and musician, he has played with some of top most jazz musicians in the world including John McLaughlin, Don Cherry, Pt. Ravi Shankar, Louiz Banks and A. R. Rahman, to name just a few. His work with John McLaughlin on the 2008 album Floating Point received a Grammy nomination in the best Contemporary Jazz Album category.
Drums and percussion has been in his blood from a very young age and he was greatly influenced by such greats as Ustad Alla Rakha, Ustad Zakir Hussain, jazz legend Billy Cobham, Elvin Jones, Carnatic legend Palghat Raghu and friend and teacher Sridhar Parthasarthy among many others.
A multifaceted musical talent, Ranjit Barot is an established music composer- director, producer, arranger and lyricist with numerous feature films and sound tracks to his credit and a great singer to boot. He has been a fixture on most of A. R. Rahman’s projects and live tours.
Here he talks to Raga to Rock about his life and musical journey through the years.
You are rated among the Top 100 Jazz drummers in the world....How did you make it?
I don’t know about top 100, but yes, through my work with John McLaughlin I’m now visible in the highest of jazz circles worldwide. This happened through a certain amount of serendipity. My elder brother and mentor, the great Zakir Hussain, made the connection and the rest unfolded like it should’ve. It involved deep introspection, hard work and a commitment to maintaining the highest standards of drumming and musicianship.
What do you think of the Drum machine and electronic music?
I love them both. They have a valid place in modern music production and one must not look at them as ‘replacements’ for the real thing. They’re another entity altogether, bringing with them their strengths as well as their inability to be human.
You have been making Music in various capacities from being a Musician, Lyricist, Composer, Sound designer, Singer, Curator, etc. Who is the real Ranjit Barot?
There is only the one Ranjit Barot, who is involved in all facets of music creation. I see no boundaries nor barriers. One must flow like water. Cliché but true. This is important for one’s growth as a musician as well as a human being. Also, very necessary for survival.
Also could you share Artists/People who played a part in your Musical journey?
There may be too many to mention here but I’ll try. Firstly, my mother and my first guru, the legendary dancer Sitara Devi. Without her being a major part of my life, I might not have amounted to anything. Then I’d have to say Ustaad Allarakha, my first rhythm guru and spiritual guide. Then a little known, but a giant of a musician and composer, Soli Dastoor. Louiz Banks was a big part of my growth too. Last but in no way the least, the amazing AR Rahman. He exposed me to so much magic as well. As I mentioned, there are too many to mention here. I owe so much to so many people.
Favorite 5 songs each Hindi & English?
That would be impossible to list. So much incredible music has happened.
Can the son of the legendary Sitara Devi dance?
Not at all. I saved my family from that embarrassment a long time ago. In fact, one of the things I told my wife before (or maybe after, I can’t remember) is that I’d be happy to do anything except dance. That’s something she shouldn’t expect from me and I’ve been true to my word.
Tell us of your projects in the pipeline?
I have an indie project entitled Musafir, a culmination of my musical journey thus far. I have an upcoming tour with John McLaughlin this October and I’ve formed a new band called UnCommon with my two brothers from Paris, Etienne Mbappé and Christophe Cravero m. And lastly, my band with my daughter Mallika Barot, which is called Superphonic. We’ll have an EP our later this year.
Any specific plans for the future in terms of collaborations, festivals, teaching music, grooming young artists...
This is an ongoing process. Empowering students and other musicians, curating festivals, trying to unearth the vast musical heritage that our beloved country possesses.
RANJIT BAROT-GURU GYAN
You presented your daughter as an Artist at a Music Trade show, what would you like her to achieve in the Music world?
Firstly, I’d like her to be happy, as a person and human being. Which I’m happy to say she is. Then you channel all the blessings you’ve received into a positive sound and a positive attitude towards life. Be of service to others and society at large. I’m happy to say that she is on her way to being all of this.
How difficult was it for you to succeed in the Music business? what would be your advice o budding musicians?
Difficulties are only difficulties if you acknowledge them as such. It’s a journey....you do work which convinces some people and not others. Don’t take rejection to heart but look at it as trying to find new words to say the same thing. Some people respond to a different kind of language and one has just find the right things to say to the right people.
Any piece of advice for upcoming Drummers today? Your secret for success?
Stop looking at how many likes you have on YouTube/ FB, whatever. Play for the joy of playing. It’ll add years to your life. That doesn’t mean you don’t stay relevant, don’t practice, etc. You have to be at the top of your game to survive these days. But eventually you have to be you. Not an imitation.
The future of music across genres Classical, Film, Jazz, Rock in India... Your thoughts and views
Music is alive and strong. It’s not going anywhere. I’m not filled with gloom or despair. All sorts of music is happening. You have to find your place on this merry go round and make sure you don’t fall off the horse.
RANJIT BAROT- RETRO JOURNEY
How did drums happen to you at a young age?
Drums found me at the age of 14. There was a talent show in school and they needed a drummer. I volunteered and have never looked back.
You have been a part of Pt. Ravi Shankar's ensemble, could you share an experience?
T was sublime to share the stage with Panditji. His aura, his smile, I remember it to this day. I became a part of this ensemble as part of the 1980 Jazz Yatra.
'Floating Point' with John Mc Laughlin made you a Grammy nominee, how did that come about?
I got to ‘jam’ with him at the Abbaji concert held on every February the 3rd. This is hosted by Ustaad Zakir Hussain and in the evening, after we had played together, Johnji asked me to collaborate with him.
You have worked with music Directors from Kalyanji Anandj, Lakshmikant Pyeralal, RD Burman, Ismail Durbar to AR Rehman could you share what it was working with each one.
It was exciting to be in the presence of such stalwarts. Again, all the time I spent doing these recordings with these greats was a huge learning experience. Like for instance, even as far back as the 70s-early 80s, RD recognised the value of spontaneity that comes out of a ‘jam’. At every sitting at his house, where singers and arrangers met to break down a tune, I noticed he had mics placed all around the room so the discussions were recorded into his nifty cassette player for review and gathering ideas later. No one else at the time had that foresight.
But not just musically, also the humanity that these masters possessed had a deep impact on me. Especially Pyarelalji. He walked into the studio everyday and made sure he greeted all of us before getting to the business at hand. That’s 100 musicians on some days, between the rhythm, string, electronic and brass sections. Amazing! Other times, when I would get to his recording late at night after my long day working for the advertising industry, the entire orchestra and singers would have done their parts and left. But he would go home and come back no matter how late and sit alone while I tracked, because that was the way he showed value for my time.
You have been Curating and Composing for huge events like the Commonwealth Games, Serendipity Arts Festival, etc how do you manage it?
I don’t even think the thought of being ‘spread too thin’ crosses my mind for a minute. I live and breathe music, life and humanity. What else is there to do?
As the song goes,
"Its alright, no more pretending.
Just ride without no worries
Its alright, don’t hide.....
Just free yourself and let it dance...."
Trance Effect, the Indie Pop Rock band from Nagaland takes us on a nostalgic journey through their music.They want to use their music to spread the message of positivity and overcome the hard times that people,specially the younger generation are going through with their music.Music really can heal the soul. We meet up with Trance Effect to know more about the members and their music
Give the readers a brief introduction of the members and how it all started.
We are a band from Nagaland. On Vocals, we have our dynamic and compelling performer Iuli Yeptho. Sosang Lkr on Drums, a quiet but an expressive player who never fail to capture the right beat at the right time. Temsujungba on guitars, the bigger than life character and an outstanding showman.Tako Chang on Guitars, his unique approach to music sets him apart, drawing more into melodies and catchy riffs. Imnamaong Imchen on Bass Guitars, with his experience for performing life music and minimal playing adds just the right amount of colour to make the audience groove into the music.It was in fact our bassist who came up with the idea of the band. He was keen on making music in a band and sounding like no other,but honestly it’s because we came together to make music that all of us enjoy- I guess you could call that our secret ingredient.
Can you name the Biggest influences of the band. What inspired you guys?
We are influenced and inspired every time when we see a great live performance. It was the love to perform live music and create music that drew us into forming the band, it motivates us into putting in the hours until we get the music straight. We grew up watching our local artists and bands perform, they’ve had quite an impact to all of us.
How would you guys describe the bands sound? How are you guys different from other bands in the country?
Well,we would describe our sound as somewhat of a melodic approach to the Indie genre of music. We're all from different musical background and genre but the love to create beautiful melodic music brought us together.
The bands Name 'Trance Effect' how did it come about? What is the story behind the bands name?
Well, we wanted a name that would set a difference to the music scene in the country, that's why the name Trance Effect, which is a more melodic off shoot from Techno or House music is what drives our music even though we don’t have a DJ in the band. So, we named the band Trance Effect.
About the journey so far,how has the experience been?Tell us about you favourite gigs and festivals?
We'll,so far we've had a few gigs and played at festivals like Orange Festival in Dambuk, The Drift Music Festival in Guwahati but yes every gigs would be considered as the best because of all the different venues and different crowds. It helps us to make a beautiful story of our musical journey.
Tell us a little bit about your single ' Stop Pretending' what inspired the song?
The song was written by our vocalist and it talks about the struggles and hardships a person faces in life. It talks about trying to Stop Pretending to be something one is not and to have a positive view on life. Well if you guys haven’t listened to the song then you can just stream it from all the steaming platforms like Apple Music, JioSaavn, YouTube etc
Any upcoming release,if yes give an insight on what's next for Trance Effect?
We're working on our EP right now and yes Hopefully, we may have it completed by the end of this year and also a music video along with it.
Lastly, any message to the readers and your followers.We’d just like to say be who you are, be original and just spread love. With our Dedut EP coming out you are going to see a different side of us. So, let’s go on a musical journey together. Thank you for your support, we love you.
In the world of the written and spoken word, a name like 'Rumi' resonates a certain quality of depth and wordplay. In a contemporary context, 'Spitfire' aspires to be as great. The word 'Spit' is slang for the power of the spoken word. The word 'Fire' empowers the words to provoke or destroy anything that stands in his path. His weapons for peace and war are his words. Now imagine a word spoken, visible, soaked in the gasoline of depth and meaning, and then set it on fire. Spitfire embodies Ink set on Fire. Nitin Mishra is the real name of 'Spitfire', the young rapper from small-town Madhya Pradesh. The “Asli Hip Hop” hook from the Gully Boy that you’ve been tapping your foot to was created by him.
Swaddled in his grandmother’s frosting coated love since childhood, Nitin Mishra was not taught to stand up to hood bullies violently, which is probably why he took to the might of the word so easily. Growing up in small-town India, Nitin grew up completely unaware that hip-hop was not a dance form. This was only until he met his accomplice and brother Ayush Khare, who pushed Nitin to experient with the genre. Together they formed the duo, ‘RAPresent’ with Ayush as ‘Wordsmith’ and Nitin Mishra as ‘Spitfire'.
Scribbling lyrics about teachers and organizing casual rap battles in school not only seeded Sptifire’s initial inspiration, but also got him kicked out of school in the 11th grade. A darkness in disguise, Spitfire hung onto the one thing he had: a desire to express his thoughts on notebooks that weren’t just meant for examination answer sheets. Inspired by the likes of rapper-poets like Bohemia, who deftly spoke to the world in a language comfortable to them, Spitfire overcame his self-consiousness about his English and started working on rhymes for all the Hindi and urdu poems he had scribbled over years in his notebooks. Thus began Spitfire’s journey into underground hip-hop in India.
Spitfire has come a long way from surfacing the dust roads of an early teenage to showcasing his flawless poetry on the big screen, and has proudly been representing the heartland of India: Madhya Pradesh, or ‘Midzone’ as he fondly likes to call it. His lyrical fluency and way with words became apparent with his contribution to Gully Boy, for which he wrote most of the protagonist, Murad’s rap battles. His single for the feature, ‘Asli Hip-Hop’ was used to introduce a Bollywood dependent audience to the real value of Spitfire’s beloved genre.
His debut EP “Paathshala” is about how Spitfire saved Nitin Mishra. The EP speaks of an old wealth of knowledge based on experiential learning that guides us to who we are. Art and expression had once saved Nitin, so he has now found the strength to give back and spit words soaked in truth. You can feel his frustrations and his release juxtaposed in every word, in every song.
Fueling ink with ignited angst, Spitfire is a humble voice of surety as he rolls (read ‘spits’) out poetry in purity of truth and intent. His debut EP ‘Paathshala’ is a testament to this vision and creative dexterity. An EP with a profound lyrical quality of poetry that is timeless, is why Spitfire is fondly known to those around him as Little Ghalib: a poet whose words penetrate through you, surpassing time and trend.
Those of you who have been around from the 1960's through the 1990's will remember the vibrant live music scene in almost every starred hotel in India. Those were the days when you walked into a nightclub like 'Rendezvous' at The Taj Mahal hotel and 'Supper Club' at the Oberoi Sheraton in Mumbai to see curtains going up on a band that was the prime focus of these outlets. Every seat in these restaurants allowed an unobstructed view of the band that performed every night on resident contracts. Today all this has disappeared thanks to some ridiculously high entertainment taxes on live music. Today, non off these hotels have complete bands playing save for a few that feature small duos or solo singers. The Lodhi in New Delhi, recently listed among the world's best hotels, decided to step in and rewind to the good old days. They got Goa's premier jazz quartet 'Jazz Junction' to move to Delhi on a resident contract and the decision has paid off in terms of footfalls generated by the band. Jazz Junction featuring singer Daniella Rodrigues, pianist Tony Dias,
bassist Colin D'Cruz and drummer Angelo Colasco began playing at The Lodhi in June 2018. Four months into the contract the band generated a sizeable following, with quite a few high profile guests choosing to celebrate their special occasion at the Elan bar where the band performs. Against all odds the rewind option proved to be a huge success and hopefully other properties around the country takes the cue to trigger a whole new revival of live music.