Geetanjali Minhas | September 13, 2019
Renowned British singer, songwriter and reggae DJ, Apache Indian (originally known as Steven Kapoor) shot to fame with his style of music which came to be known as bhangramuffin (also called bhangragga) – a mix of bhangra, reggaemuffin and traditional dance hall in the early 1990s. His style changed the way music was going to be created later. His cult track ‘Boom-Shaka-Lak’ is featured in several Hollywood movies including ‘Dumb and Dumber’, ‘Dumb and Dumber To’, ‘Threesome’, the soundtrack for ‘Scooby -Doo 2’, ‘Monsters Unleashed’, along with artists like Fatboy Slim, The B-52s, 2 Unlimited and New Radicals. His single ‘Om Namaha Shivaya’ features on the Putumayo World Music compilation album, World Reggae. In 1996 he danced with Prabhudeva in the Tamil film ‘Love Birds’, a nationwide hit. Besides international names like Wreckx 'n Effect, Sean Paul, Maxi Priest, General Levy, Brian and Tony Gold, Shaggy, Yami Bolo, Boy George, Jim Beanz and Pras, he has collaborated with AR Rahman, Sameera Singh, Asha Bhosle, Malkit Singh, Jazzy B, Stereo Nation, Bally Sagoo, and Raghav among others. He has been honoured with four lifetime achievement awards, besides the UK Asian Music Award for Best International Success (2003) and honour for Outstanding Achievement (2005). He opened the AIM Academy in his hometown Handsworth, Birmingham, where he trains new talent in music.
Music to you is:
Reflection of life and emotions. Some of the greatest songs have been written from people’s personal experiences – good and bad. My music reflects my experiences, emotions, opinions and moods and gives insight to my life, prayers and soul.
How has Punjabi music changed over the years?
Punjabi music like any other genres of music has gone through its changes. With more traditional styles and lyrics being fused with modern sounds it has lost and gained fans over the years. Younger generations across the world are also speaking Punjabi language a lot less, so that has had a huge impact on keeping the genre alive. Having said that, I think Punjabi music has returned home to Punjab and there are some great songs currently making a massive global impact.
How has the internet and technology changed the music industry?
Both have changed the music industry in a good and bad way. The good is that with technology music industry is completely revolutionized, it is easily accessible and reaching audiences far and near quicker than ever before. The bad is that when the internet was created it did not have any laws that would protect the music and film industries, leading to a massive shake-up and the loss of millions of pounds and jobs. This has affected everyone across the globe due to which many labels and talented artists are suffering. As we slowly see laws and regulations come into place, some will never recover or be heard offline.
How have you managed to keep your music relevant with time?
I have continued to work with people from across the globe, remained versatile and original. My style of music almost created the Asian urban fusion sound so it has its own distinct character. As the younger generations have grown up they have fused more sounds, styles and language, which make it current. My sound is here to stay and represents a new culture emerging from across the globe.
What needs to be done for Asian artists to promote themselves on a global platform?
They now have the internet to promote themselves to the world. They have to use this platform in the right way and try to get out to bigger and more diverse audiences. It starts with the music and who it appeals. Many Asian artists make music just for Asian audiences, and then wonder why they are not recognised on the global platform. Especially Asian rappers who are fusing sounds and styles should come out their comfort zone and try to break new ground and gain non-Asian audiences as well.
What role does an artist have in society?
An artist has a massive role in society as music itself is a very powerful tool. A true artist can write songs that will make a difference in society and people’s lives, especially if you are a rapper as the rap/reggae style was developed around things happening in society and across the world. But I see that many artists these days make songs to promote themselves and nothing else. They need to understand the origins of the genre of music, what it represents and their responsibilities towards society.
Your greatest inspiration:
Music. It has the ability to affect my emotions and feelings and I hope that my music does the same for others.
Your most memorable moments:
My first trip to India as an artist. My concerts attracted massive audiences across India and I was invited to meet the prime minister and his family, Mrs Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul. On my first ever trip to Jamaica I worked at Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Studio in Kingston with Sly & Robbie and performing at Reggae Japan Splash in Tokyo to over 100,000 people was very memorable too. There’s a long list of memorable moments!
Governance issues that matter to you the most:
Having basic respect, manners and courtesy takes you far in life. Respect for yourself and others, for different religions and cultures are simple things and seem to have gotten lost along the way. My music academy is based on these fundamental beliefs which are more important than any talent you may have.
What can be done to promote live music and new talent?
We need more venues and have open mic events where new artists can easily perform. We need more emphasis on musicians as it’s usually all about the artists. Asian TV shows should telecast live music shows with diverse bands and radio too should have more live sessions. I have done these things previously on my own Radio 1 Show and TV shows like Soul Music for ITV and Real Talk for Brit Asia TV.
Your favourite pastime:
Playing football, basketball, swimming and running. I also enjoy cooking and watching good movies!
Your advice to aspiring artists:
Remember the music and entertainment industries have changed and are in a period of instability. There will be many sharks around from established artists/producers who are suffering and labels who have suffered serious losses in recent years. Remember that there are no guarantees for success and your destiny is really in the hands of God. Remember the goal should be first to lay a foundation for a career not just to be an artist for a moment. Artists need to learn about the industry not just their art and people around you are crucial to your success. Work hard on the talents God has given you, be unique and different from other artists and remain humble.
Your future plans:
Continue to record and release music. I love performing, so hopefully I will be touring more. I plan to release a biopic on my life and career, continue building my Music Academy, AIM, and have bases in Holland, India and countries across the world, build my music production team- Sunset Entertainment Group in America and sign artists who have the potential of being on the global platform. Besides this, I have many more plans!
An adage you live by:
Inspire and be inspired!
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