SINGER and song writer Ziggy will never forget the time he spent with legendary performer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.
Ziggy, one half of urban duo Bonafide, watched Rahat perform at a concert in Birmingham. The pair have released a new song called 'Has Ke Bol', which recently reach number one on the World iTunes Chart, and there are plans to perform together in Britain next month. Ziggy told Entouraaj he has learned a lot from watching and speaking to the Pakistani singer.
"I can’t express how much of a fantastic singer, he is so down to earth. “Picking up tips in half an hour I haven't learnt from ten years of music in that rehearsal. “How he prepares for his gig, little things that make a big difference. And his overall stage presence.”
He added: "We had his vocals from before as he was signed up to the same label as us. “We asked him if we could go ahead; he wasn’t too happy about the vocals at that time. “He tweaked them, and sent it back. It doesn't get much bigger."The duet marks the highlight of Ziggy’s career since he teamed up with best friend Maz to launch Bonafide’s blend of bhangra, hip-hop and R&B. He is experienced enough to know the pitfalls in the Asian music industry and what needs to change.“Sometimes the desi industry tries to work in a Pakistani or Indian mentality. “It’s not about the music but who you are or how much you are going to spend on a particular product. “Where you are in the country can influence radio presenters.“It has cleaned up since our first track in 2008. You ask yourself is it easier to get played because the channels or avenues are not as relevant as back then or has it changed.”
In the Asian industry, you are limited as to what you can do.
A game changer has been websites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook where artists can promote themselves and gain a following by posting their material. But the internet can also be a career-killer when it comes to the explosion of illegal downloading websites. Recent figures showed music sales fell from £9.45 billion in 2012 to around £9 billion last year.
Ziggy says these sites are destroying the industry.
“It's such a nightmare. We want to be producing good music and releasing good music. “If [artists] are not getting that return you're losing artists as it’s not a viable return for them. “To keep it alive people have to realise illegal downloading is going to kill it off. “But you can’t really control it as something which is not illegal is file-sharing. “In the Asian industry, you are limited as to what you can do. Some [labels] have got resources to do something about it."
Bonafide’s biggest hits have been tracks with hindi and punjabi lyrics like 'Feel It Sohniye' and 'Ishq Hogaya'. Ziggy revealed the duo have been told to remove their Asian lyrics and sound to appeal to a mainstream audience.
“We have done things musically which we have to change like a dhol [drum] sound, a vocal or a percentage of a vocal to give it an urban UK type feel. “Just to get it played on mainstream channels. They don’t think it has [popularity]. I think they’re wrong; it has got a massive following. “They won’t play certain sounds, like a tumbi [stringed instrument] or Asian instruments, its sad really.”
In Punjabi culture, partying and letting your hair down, is just as important as waking up and going to sleep.
But for the Manchester-based group, mainstream is not about getting on MTV - it is about touring Asia. They have performed in over 40 countries including Pakistan, where their families hail from.
"Mainstream is not necessarily TV or down that road. “For us it’s India, Dubai, masses in Pakistan which has an amazing vibe. “India we have not yet been to. It’s where our views and comments coming from, they are very passionate about their music. “We've done songs which are party-type anthems. In Punjabi culture, partying and letting your hair down, is just as important as waking up and going to sleep.”
Away from music, Ziggy’s passions are boxing and football. But as Manchester United fans, Bonafide are fed up of the team’s slump under manager David Moyes.
“They should get rid of the manager. At the beginning of season I thought give him the benefit of the doubt. “After their performance in the 3-0 defeat [to Manchester City], it’s not working for me. “They have got to change. It will be too late by next season.”
Bonafide will be performing at Meer Sheesha Lounge in Birmingham on April 8th, followed by concerts in Leeds (12th April) and Manchester (20th April).