Interview: Foji Reflects on His Success

Bhangra artist Foji went from being a quiet artist on the scene to an international phenomenon who can dance! I caught up with Foji and we walked ourselves through his career. Check out my exclusive interview.

Zaynah: The success in your career has been building. The first I hear from you was “Bondhl-Gai” featuring New Yorker Gop Virk. How did this collaboration come to be?
Foji: I came across a YouTube video of Gop Virk collaborating with Cheshire Cat. I was impressed with his work and got in contact with him. He loved the track and wanted to be part of it.

Zaynah: At the time of the release of “Bondhl-Gai” did you have an album in the works?
Foji: Yes, I was working on my debut album Dafa Hoja, we only had 4 tracks ready at that time and finished and released it the U.K. for the end of October. It all worked out quite well as “Bondal Gai” was such a big track on the album.

Zaynah: Another collaboration on the album, and a big one at that, is with Miss Pooja. Were you two able to work in the studio together?
Foji: Yep, we got together for the collaboration and she seemed like the ideal vocalist for the song. She is a fantastic performer and artist it was a total pleasure to work with her.

Zaynah: Last year you dropped your debut album Dafa Hoja. How long was this project in the making?
Foji: Altogether it was about a three year process. The biggest challenge in general was trying to do something different with the album. For example, when naming the songs I tried to think of names that would attract attention and came up with titles such as “Dafa Hoja,” “Bruah” and “Bondhlgai.” When designing the album cover, I tried to think outside the box and came up with the lenticular card, as no one in the industry has done anything like this. Also, I like to think of different concepts for my videos instead of doing your typical standard Bhangra video.

Zaynah: What is one of your favorite songs on the album?
Foji: I love all my songs but if I had to mention one that really sticks out it would be “Kamlee” which is a dub-step style. I don’t think that anyone in the Bhangra industry has done a dub-step style of song, it is a very fresh style coming up in the mainstream and I thought I would do something totally new.

Zaynah: You’re fame hit a whole new level with “Pumbeeri” as it became an experience for your fans. What made you decide to do a flash mob?
Foji: Flash mob videos caught my eye whilst browsing on YouTube. I quickly realized that the Bhangra industry had not yet discovered this kind of creativity in their music videos, so whilst brain storming through ideas I thought to myself why not do a flash mob for a video. It was so much fun, we did 3 day rehearsals and the response was insane we had all religion, cultures, and ages joining in from 6 to 66!

Zaynah: Were you at all worried that you wouldn’t be able to recruit enough dancers or that people would not retain the choreography?
Foji: No, I was not worried at all because I deliberately worked out a straightforward routine which was simple to follow. I also put the routine up on Facebook to make it easier for people to learn. Till today when I perform it at weddings and gigs the whole party does the same moves, it’s like another flash mob!

Zaynah: After the drop of “Pumbeeri” you treated us to “Pumbeeri 2.” Why?
Foji: On the day that we did the video shoot for “Pumbeeri” we managed to film two takes, one inside the bullring (shopping mall) and one outside. Since the response to the outdoor video exceeded all expectations, we decided to edit and release the indoor footage.

Zaynah: With all eyes on you or looking for you in the mall with a surprise dance, what can we look forward to next?
Foji: I will be releasing a new video soon called “Minta”. Without giving too much away I can tell you that it will be a duet but I am going to leave the video concept a surprise. I am sure that you will not be disappointed.

Zaynah: Do you have a message for your fans?
Foji: I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me through my career, the response has been overwhelming and I hope you all enjoyed the album Dafa Hoja. If anyone has any comments, good or bad, please facebook, twitter or email me. Your feedback will be much appreciated.

Freida Pinta on Interview

Actress Freida Pinto graces the cover of Interview magazine for their August issue. I think the cover is very artsy.

 

Interview: Kee has Advice for the Ladies

There is no denying that the Urban Desi scene is dominated by guys; however, this year has seen a burst of female talent. Now we have to wait and see which ladies are one-hit wonders and which ones are here to stay.

Kee is a songstress I have been following since the release of her debut single “Crazy”  which was released last year. After a quick makeover and new direction, Kee has won over the hearts of many and her latest single “Jaaneman Part 2” is being viewed around the world! I caught up with Kee to talk about her success and the journey she has had as a female artist.

Zaynah: Congratulations on the success of “Jaaneman Part 2.” For those unfamiliar with the track, tell us about the song.
Kee: Thank you! Part 2 was my reply back to Raxstar’s original version, which I featured on. A pure Hindi version was requested by the fans which I was happy to deliver. The two versions have their own vibe and by featuring Raxstar on my version completed the whole story. It was a really interesting project as it has never been done before in our Asian music scene. My version is a lot more mellow and more soulful showing my softer side for the first time. I guess it was a gamble that thankfully paid off!

Zaynah: When did you meet with Raxstar and decide that a collaboration was going to be done?
Kee: Raxstar and Sunit [producer] were in search of a Hindi vocalist for some time and mentioned it to my management. I heard the beautiful track and instantly fell in love. Sunit is also based in Coventry which meant it was just meant to be.

Zaynah: Who are some of the women you look up to in the music industry?
Kee: One particular lady comes to mind….Ashanti Omkar! She is cultured, kind-hearted, intelligent, very supportive and one of the most genuine people you can meet in this industry. All of the things I strive to be.

Ashanti Omkar

Zaynah: Is it just me or are there very few ladies representing on the music scene?
Kee: There definitely are not enough of us around. The industry has been dominated by men for years. C’mon girls it’s time to takeover! Would love to see more girls representing.

Zaynah: Why do you think there are so few ladies?
Kee: I can’t answer for other women but I guess it is a lot harder for us especially with our added responsibilities. We need more supportive people around us.

Zaynah: Tell us about your struggles breaking into the Urban Desi scene fraternity.
Kee: Being a newcomer is a challenge in itself, but being new and different is even harder. It takes time and a lot of hard work but determination is the key. Each milestone is a sign of accomplishment and a step closer to the dream.

Zaynah: Do you have any advice for girls out there looking to launch their own careers?
Kee: Of course! It is a tough journey so prepare yourselves for the bumpy ride. Some basics:

1. Be very careful who you trust, do your research.
2. Don’t part with cash unless you have a contract. Even then get your contract checked out.
3. If you are serious, get serious training.
4. Don’t give up!
I do get asked for advice a lot and I am very happy to help. Drop me a message on www.facebook.com/kee.artist or www.twitter.com/keeartist and I will reply.

Zaynah: Now having discussed that, how does it feel having such a successful single under your belt?
Kee: The bar has just been raised! Now there is added pressure but that comes with the territory. I am blessed and so overwhelmed by the response, enjoying the moment.

Zaynah: What’s next for you in terms of releases and performances?
Kee: I am working hard in the studio, getting brand new tracks ready. Look out for my performances at the Melas this year as I’m bringing you guys something totally fresh. I also have some upcoming performances in India and America which I am really excited about. My debut album ‘Zindagi’ is due for release in September 2011; it’s a busy year ahead.