BhangraCentral recently caught up with California based music producer Rav-E to talk about his start in the music industry, debut album, upcoming tracks plus much more. Check it out below!
For those of our readers who don’t know you, please introduce yourself.
My name is Rav-E and I’m a Bhangra music producer based out of California.
How did you first start in the Punjabi music industry? Who influenced you into pursuing a musical career?
I initially started as a DJ and dhol player. While I was pursuing my undergraduate degree in San Francisco, I became a resident DJ and dhol player at Non-Stop Bhangra, one of the longest running bhangra events in the US. While living in SF, I also began learning dhol from Ustad Lal Singh Bhatti, who has also taught Sukshinder Shinda and Aman Hayer. I felt it was a natural step to dive into music production since I knew the genre so well. Overtime, I started learning music production and learning additional instruments which was a very long and tedious process.
I was encouraged to pursue music from a very young age by my father. Back in the early 90’s, he used to sing at local shows and family events. He is someone who truly appreciates music and highly encouraged me to join school band at a young age and continued to show his support till this date.
You are a Producer, Dhol player and DJ. Should artists know how to play at least one instrument and have knowledge about the industry in general before they even open music software?
I personally believe it is very important to learn instruments when entering the Bhangra industry. Bhangra and Punjabi music differs from the mainstream because it stems from classical Indian music which heavily relies on the usage of raags. Having this knowledge prior to opening up software will be truly beneficial to any producer.
Having knowledge about the industry is a must, especially in this day and age. With the prevalence of social media, music travels very quickly and quite frankly is not appreciated like it once was. For this reason, industry trends tend to change quickly. It is important to know which audience one is targeting. However, it is also important to keep your sound original and to avoid sounding like everyone, which has become a problem in our industry.
You released your debut album titled – Back to Bhangra in 2014 which featured artists such as Surinder Shinda, A S Amar, Ashok Gill, Pappi Gill and Maninder Shinda. How did you feel to have released your own album alongside some great and well established singers?
It was a great feeling. Each of these individuals are professionals and have an extensive amount of experience. The vocals they provided were solid. I was honored to work with such a talented group of individuals, especially Surinder Shinda and his son Maninder.
Was there a particular theme you were going for with that album? How difficult was it to get in contact with some of the artists?
The particular theme I was going for was folk and traditional Bhangra. During that time period, and even know, there is a interesting inclination towards creating music that sounds very mainstream. I personally believe its important to keep folk elements of Punjabi music alive because they are what sets this music apart from other genres. If this trend continues, music around the world will eventually sound the same and will only differ in language.
Getting in contact with the artists was quite easy. Due to the prevalence of social media, I was able to contact these artists without any trouble.
You worked with the one and only Surinder Shinda with the track Punjabi. How did the collaboration come about and was it nerve racking to work with such an established and respected singer?
Working with Surinder Shinda was an amazing experience and I look forward to doing it again. At the time, Shinda had not released a dancefloor number in quite some time. I felt that it would be interesting to create an upbeat track that used heavy synths.
The collaboration came about after I obtained some lyrics which I thought would be fitting for Shindas vocals. I proceeded by contacting his management and the rest is history.
Coming from California, did you find it more difficult to make a name for yourself in the music industry as most of the music scene is dominated by artists in India and UK?
Yes, definitely! California did not have any record labels or marketing agency’s that could have provided support to a young artist. I felt highly disadvantaged because the industry in US is still developing while the industry’s in the UK and India have been in existence for decades.
What would you say are the biggest differences between the US and UK punjabi music scene?
The biggest difference is the fact that the Punjabi industry in the US is still in its infancy. The UK industry has been in existence for a number of years and therefore is able to provide media support to its artists through multiple radio stations and popular tv channels such as Brit Asia.
The US does not have any nationally or regionally established radio stations that support local talent nor are there any tv channels that do so as well. The US scene is still developing and seems to be growing slowly in specific regions of the country since the US is a much larger country than the UK and the Punjabi community spread out in different regions.
If you had to describe your music and sound in one word, what would it be?
You are set to do something unique and release two new singles on the same day – Kalli ft Pappi Gill and Do Tarra ft Aalam Jasdeep Singh. Tell us the thinking behind releasing both singles on the same day.
Since I haven’t released a proper single since May of 2014, I thought it would be a good idea to release 2 singles at once, giving the fans more content. 2015 was a quiet year for myself that was spent working on tons of music. I’m very eager to share my new music with everyone and am releasing these singles as a preview of what is yet to come.
Pappi Gill is one of the most underrated artists in the punjabi industry. What was it like to work with him and do you have plans to collaborate again in the future?
Pappi Gill is one of my favorite singers and is truly underrated. I love working with him because he was a unique voice that can fit in folk songs and also slow melodic songs as well.
Tell us the process you go through when producing a song. Do you prefer having vocals first and composing the music after or vice versa?
It really depends on logistics. If the singer is from abroad, I typically like to have the vocals first and build the track around them. However, if the singer is local, I like to sit down and compose the song with the singer. Afterwards we record the vocals and I begin to develop the instrumentation to fit our composition. I’d like to add, working in person makes life much easier and the process much smoother!
If given the chance, where in the world would you like to perform?
This is a tough one. I’d have to say half-time during the world cup or the opening ceremony of the summer Olympics since they are large world stages and would be perfect opportunities to share Bhangra and Punjabi music with a wider global audience.
There is a lot of focus now on music videos and the message that is portrayed through them. What are your personal views on music videos in today’s society? Do you keep it a priority to have clean, family friendly videos?
Music videos are necessary in todays society. It is very rare to see a track become viral without a visual now days. However, I do place importance on having clean videos. I’m not an artist that will showcase alcohol or under dressed women in my videos.
Having only recently started your music career, what has been your most memorable moment so far?
My most memorable moment so far is meeting Pops and Raj of Tigerstyle. I have been a huge fan of their music since their first release and my debut album was released under their record label Soldier Sound Recordings. I have worked closely with them from 2012-2014, but never had the opportunity to meet them. Recently, they were in San Francisco to perform at Non-Stop Bhangra and I had the opportunity to hang out with them one on one before the show. They are very humble and have a great deal of knowledge regarding the music industry.
A lot of people want to get into the music industry. What advice would you give them? What particular advice were you given?
Learn harmonium and Punjabi percussion (dhol, dholaki, or tabla).
Honestly, I was not given any advice. Since I am one of the first Punjabi music producers in California, I had to navigate through the process on my own.
If you had to, which 4 singers would you put on the Mount Rushmore of Punjabi music?
Kuldip Manak, Surjit Binderahkia, Gurdas Maan and Jazzy B (yes, Jazzy B will go down as one of the greats once his career is over)
Tell us something unique about yourself that we don’t already know
I love to play soccer (football) and graduated from Law School.
If you were given the opportunity to work with any artist in any genre of music, who would you choose?
I would choose Dr. Dre. I’m a big fan of his work ethic, creativity, and capabilities as a mix engineer. It would be cool to see what kind of twist he could add to a Punjabi track.
What are you currently listening to? – What have been your favourite releases so far this year?
Currently listening to Ranjit Bawa, Drake, Tigerstyle, Aman Hayer, and Ammy Virk.
My favorite releases so far this year have been Zindabaad Yaarian by Ammy Virk and Kainthe Wala Gabru by Surjit Khan & Aman Hayer.
Are there any new artists based in the US that you recommend we should look out for in the future?
Definitely! One singer to watch out for is my good friend Jeeta Gill. Were currently working on some material so be on the look out for something big very soon!
Another individual to look out for in the future is a producer named Folk Soundz. This young artist is getting ready to release his first official single and is bringing some very raw and original Punjabi folk music.
Lastly, a very talented DJ to watch out for from Cali is DJ Hans. He has been making some great remixes for a number of years and isn’t letting up anytime soon.
Quick Random Questions
Cricket or Football
Football! I can’t stand cricket.
Bollywood or Hollywood
Lebron James or Michael Jordan
MJ – He’s the G.O.A.T
Gulaab Jaman or Jalebis
US Music scene or UK Music scene
US Scene! Were growing steadily, be on the look out for some raw talent. However, I got much respect for the UK. They basically created the Bhangra sound of today.
Punjabi music scene
Music out of Punjab is dominating the scene at the moment
Ustad Lal Singh Bhatti (my teacher)
Legend. Rest in Peace.
Back To Bhangra
Great for Hip-hop
Would love to collab again
What does Rav E have planned for 2016? Can we expect some more singles or perhaps an EP / Album?
In 2016 I will be releasing an album with a local singer and am hoping to release another solo album by the end of the year.
Where is the best place for fans to contact and interact with Rav-E?
I can be reached on all major social media sites:
Do you have any final messages for your fans and the readers of BhangraCentral.com?
I’d like to give a huge shout out to BhangraCentral.com for taking the time out to conduct this interview. I encourage all of my fans and the readers to support BhangraCentral.com and to support real Punjabi music! It’s very important to remember who you are and where you come from. We have a very rich culture and our music is amazing, lets not forget that!
We would like to thank Rav-E for taking time out to conduct this interview – We wish him all the best for the release of Kalli / Do Tarra and for his future projects!