Friday, April 15, 2005

Juggy D's spiritual side

“Language is not a barrier, music and melody reaches out to all”

Words By Ashanti OMkar
Pics By Akin Falope

Southall born and bred Juggy D has had his sights on the music industry since the age of 14, when he started his first set of performances, which now, in his mid twenties, have taken him all over the world, giving him a huge number of adoring fans. From Mumbai, where he is in the ‘A list’ of celebrities, dabbling in the world famous Bollywood, with his incredible vocal skills, to Canada to Australia, where his on stage charisma and energetic, not to mention unique, dancing style has captured the hearts of many young ladies. Hitting the UK charts with his Jay Sean collaboration, ‘Dance with you’, where he did the amazing Punjabi vocals, this seems a distant memory back in 2003, for what he continues to achieve, especially as some of his collaborations include teaching and singing in Punjabi with Craig David and singing on remix tracks by Brittany Spears, Mary J Blige and Ricky Martin.

Happily married, Juggy is very much a family man, with a demeanour that is humble and has a certain lovable innocence to it. He has performed at many an incredible venue in 2004 and there is absolutely no doubt that Juggy D is a name to be reckoned with in the UK Bhangra scene, having nominations in the Br-AMA awards, to making a name in the mainstream, Juggy has a following of people who are old, to those who are young, simply because of his diverse Punjabi music, which is not just focussed on Bhangra but touches on many musical aspects, as his fellow 2point9 producers, Rishi Rich and Mentor bring about fresh aspects to his music. Having a level of training in Punjabi music, a staid spiritual side and a very open mind to musical styles of India and world music, Juggy’s self titled album not only sold extremely well when released and continues to sell legally, from mainstream outlets and also on popular websites like ‘itunes’.

His latest release, ‘Akheer’ is a musical revelation, as it is a collaboration of Punjabi devotional vocalisation, blended exquisitely with the South Indian Classical style of Carnatic music, which is heavily based on ‘Aalaps’ and ‘Awaras’ (solfa notes, sung in the ‘Raag’ - scale, in the form of Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa). He has worked with producer Mentor and very talented classical musicians Karthik and Kumar Ragunathan for this song, which is the last on his album (read on to find out what ‘Akheer’ means) and it is also his latest single release.

Juggy D opens up and tells all in this candid interview which takes us into his psyche, his hopes, dreams and his future work, which is bound to be delectable to the ears if his past work is anything to go by.

Tell us about this track ‘Akheer’, it is said to be very special to you.

It something I wanted to put on the album because it shows a totally different side to the person that I am. I naturally come across as very full of life, energetic, and always laughing but this shows a deeper side to my personality which brings out my spirituality, as I have very strong beliefs in my faith.

Are you religious and tell us about the religious connotations of ‘Akheer’. Coming form a traditional Punjabi home, I guess religion featured heavily in you life? What is your spiritual side like?

I wouldn’t say I’m extremely religious but I do believe in god. I do have a strong connection in my own way which is hard to describe. I visit the temple where I get a sense of peace and harmony and am able to block out everything that’s going on around me and get in touch with my spiritual side

What does ‘Akheer’ mean – I have heard that it mean ‘the end’ – is this true? Is that the reason it was the closing track on your fabulous album?

Yes, it is true that it means ‘the end’ and obviously this meant it was the best place for it to go. But the other reason it was there was because the rest of the album was so upbeat and dance floor based that I don’t think the track would have sat well in between them so it had place of its own at the end.

You are said to be happily married and also have a child – would you tell us a bit more about them and how your demanding schedule allows you to spend time with them?

Yes I am married and very happy too. But don’t have any kids as yet so wherever you got that from is a bit presumptuous, but I am very fond of kids and can’t wait to have my own.

How did the concept of the track come about?

First of all it was a track that was written by my uncle which we changed slightly once I’d heard it. It appealed to me and the inspiration came because I have a spiritual side and the words in this song connect with the way I feel about life.

Choosing Mentor (of 2point9 crew, producer to remix tracks by Timbaland, Jon B and many more) to produce this track was a wise decision indeed – tell us more about your work with him.

Working with mentor is totally different to working with Rishi as both of them have totally different styles. When we sat in the studio to work on the track ‘Akheer’, it only took a few lines of the song in order for mentor to know exactly what he was going to do on the track and we both felt it was the right choice.

You have 2 very talented guys on the track, Karthik and Kumar Ragunathan – tell us more about how it was working with them and about how you came up with the concept of mixing Carnatic music with your smooth vocals. How did you choose the Raag for the track to blend so seamlessly with your vocals?

The Raag’s were actually chosen by Kumar himself, his vocal skills and freestyle ability happen to make him produce such Raags for that track which blended very well. Both Karthik’s and Kumar’s input to the track on the violins were absolutely phenomenal and just puts real depth into the track.

Who wrote the lyrics for ‘Akheer’ and did you have much input in this part of the process?

As I mentioned earlier it was initially written by my uncle who is a poet and novel writer, so it was lyrically put together by him with my help in order for me to understand it better.

What are your plans for 2005, after ‘Akheer’ comes out?

I have just finished working on a few tracks for Veronica’s album which is called ‘Theen’ and will be out very soon. I am now working on Rishi’s album which will be out later this year which I’m very excited about as it will be featuring many well known urban and Asian artists including myself. I’m featured on some tracks on Mentor’s album which will be out this year. I will be releasing my second album which I have already started writing later this year.

You have done some with Sweet V (Veronica), Rishi Rich and Bollywood movies – you are an A List celebrity in Mumbai, I hear – what does this feel like, tell us your experiences, what films you have sung in and did you ever think that your musical career would reach India and all the rest of the world – I even heard word from Australia about your mega talents!

Firstly thank you for the lovely compliments! I never thought that my musical career would take off as well as it has and didn’t think that I would get to such a stage in such a short time. We have worked very hard to get here and the people that I’m working with have played a huge part in getting me there. Hum Tum was the second film to use one of the tracks I’ve featured on. The first was ‘Dance with you’ in the film Boom. More recently we have just done another one which I’m sure we’ll be talking about very soon!

Any plans to work with AR Rahman?

Not in the immediate future but yes that would be a great honour and privilege to work with such a phenomenal producer.

At the ‘Sangeet’ awards, what was it like to be with all the top Bollywood music industry people?

It was on of the most amazing feelings as in the front row I was singing to people like Aishwarya Rai, Sadin Khan, Gurinda Chadha and the list just goes on!

Do you feel that your music is more for a niche market and not appealing to all because of its language restriction? I saw a video of yours (Sohniye) in Nigeria, Africa, but it was made apparent to me that the people over there seemed to know Jay Sean more, from the MTV Base videos, because of the English language used in his music.

Lyrically yes there will always be that barrier where they don’t understand the language that I’m singing in, but musically and melodically I think anyone can relate to any music.

Where is ‘Akheer’ available and is it also available to download – LEGALLY, on any websites?

Akheer is available to buy on my album entitled ‘Juggy D’. Yes it is available to download legally on itunes and Check for more information on that.

Any messages for your UK fanbase?

I really appreciate all the support I’ve had from the very start and please keep it up, as without you I wouldn’t be in this position, so once again Thank You!