'I try to incorporate Asian sounds'

'I try to incorporate Asian sounds'

When we think of reggae, people like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Johnny Nash and Shaggy feature in our minds. But the rhythmic beats from Jamaica have slowly penetrated Asia, and in the process, they have acquired a taste of their own. Artistes like Sasi the Don have given a new identity to the music form by adding influences from his surrounding.

Sasi, as he is popularly known as, is a Malaysian reggae sensation, who took to the genre in college when everyone else his age was listening to boy bands. “I heard reggae for the first time when I was in college. This was back in the 90s, during my college days. It sounded different and interesting. But most people then were listening to either Vanilla Ice or boy bands. I preferred artistes like Shaggy,” he says. He adds that reggae complemented his growing interest in music. “I started out as a DJ...I didn’t plan to be a singer.”

While most people mimic reggae artistes of the West and do a poor job of it, Sasi has carved a niche for himself. With roots that bring him back to South India, he explores the cultural diversity of the various countries that he has access to.

“I try to incorporate Asian sounds into my reggae music.” He sings in English, Tamil, Malay and Hindi.

He will be paying a tribute to India through his international debut album, titled ‘Hello India’. “These days, people are getting more exposed to different genres of music like hip-hop and reggae. And we hear it outside of movies as well; there are many good singers in India. I want to take my music to the youth of India, I want everyone to hear it. Through this album, which has 14 songs (12 lyrical ones and two instrumentals), I want the brand name of ‘Sasi the Don’ to become more popular.” The album will have three Tamil songs and 11 English ones.

Talking about some of the songs, he says, “The title track, ‘Hello India’, is about what it means to be an Indian. Just because my grandfather was born in India, it doesn’t make me an Indian. It’s about my longing for the country, the journey here and how I explored it. In the last three years, I have visited India over 25 times so that I can get to know the people and the place. This is not just a business deal for me.”

When asked who are the artistes who inspire him, he quips, “AR Rahman. Most people don’t realise but ‘Mustafa Mustafa’, which is so popular, is a reggae mix. And Apache Indian – I’ve already gotten a chance to work with him.”

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