Let’s be real. We have now entered the age of the India based artist. Selling out big arenas for their shows, artists from Panjab are currently dominating the scene, worldwide. There was once a time, in the not so distant past, where the UK was the hub for Bhangra music. Everyone used to look to the UK for the quality acts. Something that the UK championed in the 80s and 90s was live music. Yes, LIVE music! Bands from Apna Sangeet and Alaap, to The Safri Boyz and Sat-Rang. As the years went by, the demand for live bands and live music died down, and was replaced by the PA act.
The winds, however, are indeed changing. In 2017, one band, like a phoenix, has come from the ashes of real UK Bhangra music, with one goal in mind – to reignite the public’s love for live music. That band is none other than Manchester based ‘Brotherhood’. It takes a lot of guts for a UK act to come out in an India dominated scene, but it takes even more guts for a UK band to come out on to the scene. There is nothing assisting them in their performances – no backing track, nothing. Just pure talent.
Bhangra Tape Deck caught up with Brotherhood for an insight into their journey so far as the new band on the block, and what it is like competing with the big boys on the scene.
Bobby (Lead Vocals) has been passionate about singing from a very young age. He started a live band in Manchester a few years ago.
Dal (Keyboards) and Shabz (Guitar) – Both have been in the industry for a long time. They are the original Legacy band members, and have been performing live for 10/15 years.
Vijay (Dholki) and Sukh (Dhol) – Both have been learning their respective instruments for about 10 years. This is their first time performing in a band.
Luki (Drums) has been been playing drums for 15 years, but has never been the main drummer for a band before. He used to play for a local bands on occasion and even played for Bhangra Boys.
Sunny (Tabla) has been playing Tabla, Dholki and Dhol for approximately 17/18 years. He has played with many different artists in his brief career, from Rafaqat Ali Khan to Lembher Hussainpuri.
How did you all meet?
As a band, we’ve only been together for about 6-7 months. It initially started off as a jam. Bobby, our lead vocalist, got a few lads together in a rehearsal room, just as a social. Once a week, we would meet up and just jam. Over time, we saw some progression being made, but it wasn’t something that was stable. That’s where Shabz (Guitar) came on board, and now he is our manager. Given that he used to manage Legacy, back in the day, we thought he would be right for the job. He has guided us in the right direction and managed to enter us into the Panjabi Song Contest.
Our band is a mixture of musicians with different amounts of experience on the scene. Shabz (Guitar) and Dal (Keyboards) used to play for Legacy. They’ve been on the scene for a while, doing international gigs and tours. There’s also band members like Sunny (Tabla), who are starting up, trying to find their footsteps and bearings on the scene.
Punjabi Song Contest
We weren’t initially going to do it. Looking at the acts who are going to compete, they are mostly solo acts. But then, looking at the entry criteria, all we had to do was make a video and post it on social media etc. If the promoter of the competition saw that the video was drawing attention and getting likes and shares, then we would be shortlisted for the finals. Thankfully, people have really liked what we’re doing, and it’s given us that big push to carry on with the hustle. It’s a brilliant feeling when the public take to what you’re doing. The Punjabi Song Contest is definitely a good avenue and opportunity for us to get our name out there, and of course showcase our talents to the masses.
Brotherhood will be performing at the Punjabi Song Contest, on Saturday 20th May 2017, at the Regency Suite, in Birmingham. Here, they will be competing against other budding unsigned UK acts, with the hope of winning a record label deal with Envy Worldwide, along with £1000 media promotion, as well as performing at some big mela events around the country and the UK Bhangra Awards, later this year.
This is a brilliant platform for up and coming acts to showcase their talents, and to be recognised by some Industry heavyweights.
Why live in 2017? Why now?
It’s something different for the public. Obviously, you have all the established bands like Bhangra All-Stars and the Legends Band killing it out there, but we personally believe that the public want to hear and see something different too. People from back in the day are probably bored of the sounds they’re hearing now. We feel that there is space for another band to come on the scene. All the members of the band are passionate about LIVE music.
Given that the band members are all different ages, we feel that the vibe that we would bring to the table would be slightly different. We have members that grew up listening to 80s and 90s Bhangra, but we also have members that listen to the newer music too. With this in mind, our styles of playing are naturally different too. As a collective, we feel that we cover a wide range of Panjabi music, not just the 80s and 90s.
LIVE vs. PA
These days, people are paying a lot of money for PA performances. Don’t get us wrong, if artists are getting booked for PA performances, we wish them all the best. It’s their vibe. It’s how they roll. Brotherhood, on the other hand, we’re all musicians, we all have a love and passion for that live sound. We want to rekindle people’s love for live music. At the end of the day, music is something that should be listened to with your ears, not with your eyes – this is something becoming more and more prevalent in today’s market. Music has become very visual – from the videos to the wardrobe. This is all important, but it shouldn’t be the focus. Music is something that should ignite some emotion in your soul. We feel that the ‘live’ way is the only way that this can be achieved; with musicians putting their heart and soul into creating something full of emotion.
Where do you see yourselves progressing in the future? Do you have any goals set?
It might be a long shot, but in the future, we would love to do international gigs – playing on the big stages and big venues around the world. We would love to become a household name. Obviously, you’ve got bands like Bhangra All-Stars, The Legends Bands and The Entourage, all smashing it, but it would be great to be one of those bands where people are talking about us; be it the way we play songs or the energy we bring to our performances. For all of us, we want people to start loving LIVE music again.
Is there anything you would like to say to anyone that is wanting to go down that live route and start a band?
There is more than enough room for a load more bands to come through. The live scene can’t survive with just a few bands. Look at the 80s and 90s for instance. There were so many bands on the scene. Ok, there was competition, but friendly competition. Every band would encourage one another, because the music was the thing driving them. We need more of that in the industry today, and we fully encourage more bands to come into fruition. After all, this is how the UK made its mark.
We want to take this time to thank the Bhangra All-Stars Band, and the main man, Tubsy, for their love and eternal support they has shown the band. Everyone knows Tubsy is very passionate about the live scene, and it’s just amazing to have someone of his stature and calibre giving us his seal of approval.
“There’s one thing I’d like to highlight about Brotherhood, and that’s dedication. I’ve seen a few of the band members grow up from a young age, at weddings, functions and parties. I’ve seen them come up to the stage and attentively focus on what we’re doing. Not just on me, but all of the musicians that perform with me as part of the Bhangra All-Stars and beyond.
The boys aren’t just focused on the one instrument either. They’re multi instrumentalists. They’ve really practiced what they’ve preached. They’ve taken that inspiration they’ve seen on stage, persevered, and turned it into something that we see today.
They’ve shown that, in this day and age, future musicians and future bands do exist. People do have that passion and drive, but in past, there hasn’t been that channel for musicians to showcase their talent to the masses. This is where Bobby Bola deserves credit.“
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Voting closes on Monday 15th May 2017.
Brotherhood needs your support. UK Bhangra needs your support. We, as a nation, need to support UK acts whenever they emerge like this, especially when it’s a band!
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