Tigerstyle have been at the forefront of the UK bhangra scene for over ten years now, making a name for themselves through their open-minded approach to the style, fusing traditional rhythms and instrumentation with everything from hip-hop to reggaeton. Check out our Q & A with Pops from the Glasgow duo and while you are reading have a listen to their latest podcast (see below).
The band was recently involved in saving the BBC Asian Network radio station after the BBC proposed cutting the station. It will however still face a 50% slash in its budget.
RnR: What would this mean for the UK Asian music scene?
P. We’ve got where we have so far with the support from the BBC Asian Network, we’re recognised across the globe as being ambassadors of the UK Bhangra scene, but without the Asian Network I doubt we’d be still making music today. If the BBC wants to nuture British made Asian music then they have to keep the station running. The whole world looks to the UK for music, and Asian people across the world look to the Asian Network to be educated.
RnR: Since your early days as Desi Bombsquad Soundsystem have you seen the Scottish bhangra scene grow?
P: When we first started, the clubs in Glasgow were all just playing cheesey pop or dance music, even hip-hop wasn’t played in the clubs at that time. There were no regular bhangra nights, just the one off event here and there. We ran a series of bhangra events at what was then called the Temple nightclub, were part of a group of artists resident at B.Ding which was a global electronic night, and we also then ran a bhangra residency at Destiny nightclub. I think that gave other DJs and promoters the confidence to start promoting their own nights.
The scene has gone through the process of being built, and then being flooded by too many events all happening at the same time, to now being pretty dry, aside from the events put on by Bobby B and GTown Desi. Those guys do a good job in keeping the local Bhangrheads in tune with what the current sounds are.
RnR: Do you feel Glasgow is an open-minded city (music wise)?
P: I feel like its a lot more open to different music these days, more so than it used to be. It used to be hard to find venues which hosted events associated with the sounds we were into, like drum ‘n’ bass, UK garage, hip-hop and dancehall. It has changed now and there’s a healthy music scene here in the city with even the most cutting edge sounds like dubstep being given a platform. Its just a shame that bhangra or Asian electronic music has not been embraced by as much of the non-Asian public as we’d hoped. Maybe this is something we should work on.
RnR: Tigerstyle were early pioneers of the mash-up (Nachna Onda Nei for example) and bootlegging, are you still fans of mash-up culture?
P: Mash-ups are cool, they have a special kind of energy cos’ the tunes that are mixed are usually hype themselves so if songs are combined well the product can be great. Nachna Onda Nei was a huge tune for us, and being used by Signature for their Britain’s Got Talent performance just made it bigger. It was a shame we didn’t manage to clear the samples otherwise the tune would have been a chart topper at the time I think.
RnR: How has the increasingly global music scene affected your productions/DJ sets?
P: We’re very open with the approach to what music we play in our DJ sets, it just depends on the crowd though. You need to play to the crowd. If you think they wanna be tested and excited by new sounds then you can take risks and be creative, but if they are into one type of sounds you have to stick to it so that they can enjoy the experience of your DJ set rather than you trying to educate them. It totally depends on the situation. Our podcasts are a good cross-section of the type of sounds we’re into, be it bhangra, bollywood, hip-hop and dancehall or Bass music like UK garage, drum ‘n’ bass, electronic and dubstep.
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(The interview continues after the jump…)
RnR: Do you think fusion endangers musical authenticity or represents progress?
P: There’s always going to be those that are into a specific type of music and don’t want to hear fusion or change, and we respect that. There’s nothing wrong with mastering your genre and sticking to it, it’s your choice as a musician. But with the society we are living in and the influences we have had growing up, we feel more at home when we fuse elements of what we find to be exciting sounds.
RnR: You did a few remixes of some renowned reggaeton producers like Luny Tunes, how did that come about? Is it something you would like to do more of?
P: We were approached by Toy Selectah who is a music producer based in Mexico. He was working as an A&R at Machete Music who were the label that broke reggaeton in the States. He was enquiring about a remix for Daddy Yankee’s Gasolina. At the time we’d never heard of Daddy Yankee so we didn’t really pay much attention and by the time we did, the single was already being pushed in the UK. It was too late to produce a remix for Gasolina but Toy then hooked up a bunch of remix commissions for us for their top artists such as Luny Tunes, Wisin Yandel and Don Omar. We were then invited to DJ for the label in Miami for their first anniversary. It was great to fuse bhangra with reggaeton as both are niche sounds and represent their communities.
P: Toy was instrumental in bringing together reggaeton and bhangra by having us produce those remixes. He did visit us once in Glasgow and we worked on some ideas but it was left at the developmental stage. We would like to call upon him at some time and maybe work together when the time is right.
RnR: Is there any other artists you would love to work with?
P: I was watching a video of Diplo working with Lee Scratch Perry for the Red Bull Academy project and felt really envious of him. It would be great to work with such a legend as Lee. I think no matter what music you produce you always aspire to work with those artists you follow.
RnR: What have Tigerstyle got lined up for the future?
P: Right now we’re hoping to build a good following for the podcast, working on new material and just trying to get as many opportunities to play out. We also host music production workshops, currently we have a project called Make It Live! running at The Arches.
Thanks to Pops from Tigerstyle for the answers and Tigerstyle for the photos.