It was work as usual on a hot summer day when my playlist suddenly teleports me back to my school days.
“Me wan gal from Jullunder City
Me wan gal say a soorni curi
Me wan gal mon to look after me
Me wan gal that say she love me”
it sang, reminding me of yet another classic album, Apache Indian’s ‘No Reservation’.
Yup, you guessed it right, I called my fellow cowboy and musicpedia Narendra Kusnur, who was engaged in cooking up a tasty bhindi, to discuss the album for this week’s Album Talk.
Note – Language may be changed to meet the publication’s requirements
Me: The album No Reservation came out in 1993, when I had hit teenage. It was in a way my introduction to the music from the west.
Kusnur: I thought you were talking about me turning into a teenager in 1993.
Me: You must have 10 at that time
Kusnur: I was actually 30, I had just turned 30.
(loud laughter with cuss words)
Me: Before Apache, Bali Bhrambhatt had released songs but they didn’t really have a great video and MTV, which actually played music at that time, didn’t air them as much as Apache Indian’s videos. The first single ‘Arranged Marriage’ had a pretty cool video. Was he the first Indian to put his music on the world platform or you would still regard Biddu as the one.
Kusnur: Biddu of course is the first Indian to be raised in India, go abroad and make a mark. Steven Kapoor, who went by the name Apache Indian, is originally from Birmingham which has a huge Indian diaspora. He was the first from that part of the world to mix reggae and bhangra with western rhythmic patterns. There is a similarity between reggae and bhangra music so he worked on that. Plus the songs like ‘Aids Warning’, ‘Arranged Marriage’ had messages.
Me: There was one about alcoholism too
Kusnur: ‘Drink Problem’. His sound was pretty unique. The other guys like Talvin Singh, Nitin Sawhney came in much later
Me: Ya they came in 1996-97
Kusnur: Apache Indian started the whole British Asian sound as they called it. There were other artists too but Apache hit it big with both his albums, ‘No Reservation’ and ‘Boom Shack-A-Lak’ and he had quite a lot of hit songs. ‘Chok There’ was a massive hit, it is still played today. The other two that were huge hits from the album were ‘Arranged Marriage’ and ‘Don Raja’.
Me: This guy came with a persona that Indians were not familiar with. He had a peculiar hairstyle which I aped and was suspended from school for a few days.
(yes mom, now you know!!)
Kusnur: Do you have a picture of yours in that hair style
Me: Must have one, will look for it
Kusnur: Include it in the article, The 10 remaining people who read our article will also vanish after that
Me: Apache Indian was the first Indian global superstar.
Kusnur: Apart from Biddu but again you cannot compare the two because of their background.
Me: Biddu was a composer/producer not really a singer
Kusnur: Ya, His music was targeted at the Indian sub continental diaspora aboard.
Me: Apache Indian was the first guy facing the camera. The entire hype created around him was huge.
Kusnur: They made him go to his home town in Punjab and kiss the soil which struck a chord with the NRIs too. They feel an emotional bond with their country. That is why the song, “Chitthi Aaayi Hai” is such a hit still.
Me: Ya Pankaj bhai is still raking in from it. There was a song with Maxi Priest, “Fe Real” which didn’t really do well though Maxi was huge at the time.
Kusnur: Maybe lack of promotions and marketing. True. Apache Indian called his sound ‘Bhangramuffin’ a mix of bhagra and reggae muffin. The thing about this album is that there is a lot of similarity in the songs. You can’t go beyond a point in reggae.
Me: Reggae is restrictive, that is the problem with this genre. Still ‘Chok There’ became a cult song.
Kusnur: See, that point of time people were moving towards this sound. Baba Sehgal had already come out with Thanda Thanda Paani.
Me: The sound was mostly rap, reggae and even dancehall
Kusnur: Yes, he used all these genres. If you listen closely you will find Drum and Bass too though it was not popular at the time. There may be influences from the sounds they heard in a nightclub.
Me: It is a human trait to pick up influences along the way
Kusnur: Ya, completely. Music has always been influenced. As long as you don’t pick up an entire song, influences from genres is ok. That’s how music is created, one cannot come up with a totally different genre of his own.
Me: Though many claim to do so.
“Aray paaji kya gaana banaya”
“Ha maine khud hi banaya hai, kal raat ko hi banaya”
Ok, I cant tell you everything we spoke after that or my editor will throw a fit.
So until next time, stay home and be good.