the-south-asian.com August 2004
Culture & History
My Music Is World Music
With his new album Hanji, Bally Sagoo has once again gone for the jugular by jumping from urban beats to traditional Punjabi rhythms. The album Hanji with its single Bottalan Sharab Diyan has become one of the biggest bhangra hits with industry watchers predicting that its sales could easily cross the half million mark.
He has gained the somewhat dubious distinction of being one of the most "bootlegged" artists in the world. His album, Bollywood Flashback generated 41 different pirated versions in India alone, making it almost impossible to accurately measure its legal sales. A conservative estimate put the figure at 400,000. And the single from the album, Chura Liya became the first Indian language record ever to be play-listed on England's Radio 1.
A decade later today, Bally Sagoo’s new album Hanji with its single Bottalan Sharab Diyan is again spawning many pirated versions as it has become one of the biggest bhangra hits with industry watchers predicting that its sales could easily cross the half million mark.
"Hanji, is an out-and-out Punjabi album with songs sung by different singers. It is purely for hardcore bhangra fans," says the most popular Asian DJ in the West.
Bally has once again gone for the jugular by infusing different flavours with hard desi lyrics and jumping from urban beats to traditional Punjabi rhythms. With cheeky tracks like Billo Ni Tera Dil Mangda, Duppatta Meri Pag Varga, Punjabian Di Chale Glassi he has once again reached out to the basic Punjabi instincts.
In a double whammy of sorts Bally has also come up with another three-track album Aapki Nazron Ne Samjha with Gunjan. This is a perfect blend of the velvet voice of Gunjan and sauve production values - something that the disc man has come to be associated with for over a decade and half - which is why Bally Sagoo is an artiste whose music knows no boundaries and fuses ancient influences with modern rhythms, creating a new genre that reaches out to the merging multi-cultures of world music.
Sagoo migrated to Birmingham in England when he was a kid, as his father aspired for a better life which he assumed he would find in England. His father, a keen musician himself, established a record shop in Birmingham featuring Indian imports.
With music a part of his growing years, Bally, by age fourteen, was making mix tapes for his school friends and by 18 he was selling them for five pounds each. In addition, no matter what the occasion---Christmas or St. Valentine's Day - if there was a party in Birmingham, Bally Sagoo was the DJ.
Bally's big moment came when Oriental Star agreed to do his album. The re-mix of Malkit Singh’s Hey Jamalo not only became a block-busting million seller but was also pirated worldwide.
There's been no looking back since. After his collaboration with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for Magic Touch he was associated with Amitabh Bachchan for Aby Baby. Then came hit after hit.
In 1994 in association with Sony Music Sagoo came up with the new concept of revitalising classic Bollywood film songs. Appropriately titled Bollywood Flashback, this album became one of the biggest sellers worldwide.
Sagoo went on to produce Rising from the East, an emotional, innovative album showing his skill as a writer and producer. The album smashed through the barriers of race and culture, the single Dil Cheez reached No.12 in the UK Billboard Charts in 1996. The follow up single Tum Bin Jiya also made the Chart at No. 21.
For someone who has produced so many re-mixes of old hits, it is but natural that Bollywood offers should pour in. " I am very comfortable with remixes. Offers to do films have always come in. My music is world music and since it has been so widely accepted that's why music directors are approaching me," says Sagoo who is looking seriously at some of the offers.
Today he travels the globe as a celebrity DJ playing to packed houses wherever he goes. Rumoured to be the highest paid Indian DJ in the world, Sagoo has only one pre-condition before he agrees to be a DJ for a party - a non-stop flow of the spirited stuff!
And that’s how he wants you to listen to his new album. So knock back the Bacardi ‘n’ Coke, loosen your belt and throw your arms in the air and listen to Bottalan Sharab Diyan!
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