Remixing Manak tracks is a risky business. Remixing any classic track takes guts, for that matter. It is very easy to completely destroy tracks people have loved for years; but, get it right, and you’ve just injected new life into the classics that can be enjoyed by the younger generation. Albums like Wham Bam, 100% Proof and Trespass, to name a few, did just that.
One remix album in particular, which has rightfully gained the cult underground classic title, was simply brilliant. And that album is ‘MIGHTY MANAK’ by The Dholl Company.
If that name doesn’t ring a bell, then their new alias will. The Dholl Company are now widely known as internationally acclaimed production outfit, Kaos Productions! Knowing this, you already know this tape is epic, if you take Kaos Productions’ releases over the last 7 years as a reference.
‘Mighty Manak’ released in late ’94 in Canada, and ’96 in rest of the world. The Dholl Company, originally from Derby, UK, emigrated to Canada in ’94 with a view to permanently live there. This move was a catalyst in the discovery of a whole new underground music scene that the UK had never heard of! Names like DJ Sunshine, DJ Jiten, DJ Sanj and Derby export, Manni Rebel, were all massive in the Canadian remix scene.
Up until this point, The Dholl Company had only ever been involved in Dharmik (Sikh Religious) albums, as their Dad was a well respected Sikh devotional singer. Having sons involved in the Bhangra scene would have been detrimental to his reputation; so, despite being desperate to enter the scene, out of respect for their Dad, they sat on the sidelines. Moving to Canada was an opportunity to change that to an extent, given that the use of aliases was common practice across the pond. Hence, the birth of The Dholl Company.
At the time, folk mixes weren’t big. The reason for this was that folk music back then was recorded live, usually in one take, and with all musicians in one room. This resulted in products with timing that was out, therefore making it much more difficult to mix these tracks. This was all pre computers too! No software to do it all for you!
The above photo is what ‘Mighty Manak’ was recorded on. All equipment was hired, begged and borrowed! The boys couldn’t afford top end equipment back then, so they had to make do with a multi-track tape recorder. Just goes to show that the best songs aren’t necessarily made using expensive equipment, but are made with the desire and commitment to make real Panjabi music. Look closer at the photo and you will see the speaker they used to make the album was ripped! However, none of this mattered, as the passion was there.
To bring a unique spin on things, The Dholl Company used the production skills gained from making Dharmik albums, combining this with live instrumentation and remixing; meaning that ‘Mighty Manak’ was, in essence, a production based album complimented with the original Manak songs.
In this day and age, finding a sample is easy. All you have to do is type it into Google and hit search! Back then, the Internet was in its early days, not to mention computers being very expensive, which therefore meant the boys had to find their samples the hard way – digging through tapes from local shops and mates’ cars! In doing so, they discovered a live show recording of Manak, which gave the idea of presenting ‘Mighty Manak’ as a live show. As well as digging through tapes, days were spent recording cassettes from various TV programmes, then weeks were spent going through those cassettes finding what samples to use. The struggle was definitely real then. For example, a one second voice sample could potentially take hours to find, edit and place effectively.
Over the years, this album has made a massive impact, with many artists citing ‘Mighty Manak’ as their biggest influences! One producer in particular showed the tape in his debut music video. And that is none other than Tru-Skool!
I remember hearing it in people’s front rooms when I walked past their houses. I remember a big group of guys standing around a couple of cars blasting the album. People were talking about it in college, and they were hungry for albums like this, after 100% Proof and Majic Desi. ‘Mighty Manak’ was the next one in line as far as the UK was concerned, but it was actually released in Canada even before the albums I mentioned earlier! The album released here in the UK in late Spring ’96. There were quite a lot of Manak remix albums at the time, but this one was the best, by far, and has always been remembered. The mad thing? The guys that made the album lived literally around the corner from my house!
Bhangra Tape Deck would like to thank Kaos Productions and Tru-Skool for their input into this week’s Flashback Fridays post.