Bally Sagoo returns to embrace musical roots

Credited for introducing the remix culture, British-Indian music producer Bally Sagoo has come a long way since he began his career in 1990 with his album Wham Bam. With the humongous success of songs like Chura Liya, Mera Long Gawacha and Gur Naal Ishq Mitha in his kitty, the international DJ recently released his 17th studio album titled Café Punjab, which he says is a “tribute to his roots”.

“Cafe Punjab pays tribute to Punjab and is a more laid back sounding album. It’s an eight track album and is very mellow and chilled out. It has some new songs as well as a few old classics which I have remade. It pays tribute to legends like Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Surinder Kaur and Amar Singh Chmakila. I have made a fresh sounding album which has been given a very rich sound from Bollywood/Punjab as well as globally,” he tells Metrolife.

Sagoo, who was brought up in the UK and lived in a predominantly black area of Birmingham, shares he was always a reggae, funk, disco and Motown music fan and had no interest in Indian music until he actually experimented with it.

“From school days I was mixing music and started making mix-tapes. My interest wasn’t in Indian music at all. Gradually, as my friends persuaded me to experiment with Indian music, I remixed Malkit Singh’s Tutak Tutak in ’89. It became highly popular, and gave me a taste of Indian music. From then, there has been no looking back!” he says talking about his journey.

Café Punjab, which took just over two years to complete, features some upcoming vocalists who have infused refreshing melodies to conventional sounds. Handpicked by Sagoo after thorough auditions, these artists were recorded in Punjab and Mumbai.

So while the title track Chhalleya has been sung by a Bengali singer who has never sung in Punjabi earlier, the second track, Kenu Kenu Dasa, has been sung by a new Sufi singer Mohammed Irshad from Punjab.

Sagoo, who says that he had to work hard for many years before Bollywood took note of his work, adds that the music scene has undergone a tremendous change since then.

“I loved the 90’s as we didn’t have much social media or TV coverage. The sounds were a lot different and people really looked forward to buying music cassettes and CDs. Then, the party scene too was a lot more vibrant. Today, it is more online and people are just jumping onto the music scene for the fun of it with technology, they have the software but are not using proper studios,” he says.

However, Sagoo who recently collaborated with singers Apache Indian and Taz (Stereo Nation) for Pretty Baby, says that remixes will always be around as some songs are dependent on new treatment for wider audiences.

“The only thing I say is that not everyone can make them (remixes) properly. Today, there are a lot of songs which are churned out without much time an effort spent on them. Also, there is a surge of DJ’s who claim to be DJ’s and producers with little experience. Great time and detail is taken to perfect mixes and tracks,” he says.

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