Ok, ok. We’ll do it anyway. On one side, you have Diljit Dosanjh – Panjabi superstar, super brand, and without a doubt, Panjab’s finest export of recent times. Then on the other side, you have Tru-Skool – the biggest producer of the 21st Century, responsible for the revival and buzz around a fading sub genre of Panjabi music – Folk. His signature style of production, seamlessly mixing 90s Underground Hip-Hop beats with Folk Desi instrumentation and melodies, has become instantly recognisable to anyone that listens to Panjabi music. In their respective careers, they really have excelled. Diljit has been making calculated moves from the very start to pretty much take over the International Panjabi music scene. Safe to say, he has done that!
Check out our article on Diljit’s brand, and how this has helped his rise to the top below:
Diljit’s brand and fanbase was massive worldwide before ‘Back To Basics’. But there was one huge market he hadn’t made an impact in – the UK. This album definitely did just that. It was a stroke of pure genius. ‘Back To Basics’ really changed things for both Diljit and Tru-Skool. 5 years later, and the album still sounds as fresh as it did on the day of release – a sign of a modern day classic!
Fast forward to 2017, the duo are back to wreak havoc on the scene with their new single, ‘El Sueño’. Bhangra Tape Deck caught up with Tru-Skool to discuss the Diljit’s new track, and how it was working with him again on ‘The Spanish Song’.
Back to Basics is undeniably one of the top albums of this decade. Saying that, did you feel any pressure to come back with something equal to or better than the previous offering?
We’re returning with a single, taken from the new album – So, it’s a different approach altogether. With ‘Back To Basics’, the whole album was released in one go. It was out of the blue, and came out of nowhere – That was a whole body of work. This new song (El Sueño) is just a single, so I can’t really compare the two. In terms of pressure, before, I would’ve got quite anxious about people’s reactions to my releases or ones where I’ve provided the music. But now, I’m really not phased by all that anymore. I’m just getting on with the job – Getting my head down, and trying to make quality music. I’m trying to showcase the versatility I’ve always had as a producer.
When it came to deciding the route we wanted to go down with this song, I would say it was around the 60:40 mark – 60% of that direction came from Daljit, and the remaining 40% coming from me. Maybe the next song will be more on my vibe. It’s all about that positive working relationship. With Back To Basics doing so well and it being released in full, and the new song being just a single release, there just isn’t any comparison. The songs from the new album will be released one by one, instead of being released in one go.
Hang on. One by one? Will there still be a hard copy release of the full album?
Yes, there will be. This will simply be for the people that are still interested in having albums on CD format. The hard copy of the album, containing all of the songs, will release after the last song has released.
There’s been a lot of speculation that Diljit is going to be singing in Spanish, given the name of the song. Why was the name picked as being El Sueño?
No, it’s definitely not going to be sang in Spanish. That’s just people jumping to conclusions. The reason the song has got a Spanish name is because it’s the music that has got the Spanish feel. The song originally had a typical name. It’s what we called the project file, and what we had been referring to it as, throughout the making of the track. But we felt that name was quite boring. We thought to just translate the original track name into English, but that didn’t work out. One night, Daljit, Kaka Singh and I were sitting in the studio, and Kaka went on Google to find out the Spanish translation to one of the words in the chorus of the song – ‘Dream’ (we thought maybe we could call the song,’Dream’). From ‘Dream’, we went to ‘Sueño’, and finally to ‘The Dream’, i.e. ‘El Sueño’. That’s how it happened. We wanted to give the song a stand out name – something that catches your ears and eyes.
The funny thing is, we were taking the mick when we came out with the name ‘El Sueño’. We thought we weren’t really going to call it that. As a joke, Daljit would be like, “Can you put El Sueño on one more time?” I used to laugh because I knew he was messing about. Then, he said it again before he went to his film shoot. Again, I laughed it off. When he came over the next weekend, he was like “Can you put El Sueño on?” I was like, “You’re not joking, are you?” He goes, “No, that’s it. We’re calling it that.” I was quite shocked, haha! And that was it. From a joke, it ended being the name we went with.
El Sueño is a very different sound to come from Tru-Skool, but at the same time, very familiar. Why didn’t you just go down the dancefloor, wedding vibe? Surely that would’ve been easier?
It’s funny that you say that, because it did originally go down that route. The track was originally on a slower tempo – on a traditional Bhangra tempo. It was similar to the tempo we had on Kharku and Band Bottle. The music was originally like the ‘Veer Vaar’ track he had in the film, ‘Sardaarji’. I was providing that type of music because it was what Daljit wanted. He was confident about releasing this song on a Bhangra vibe. I was trusting his gut instinct on this one, and I liked the melody anyway, so I was comfortable with the fact that we could do something with the concept Daljit had. So, the track was going down that typical, dance floor sound.
However, it wasn’t until I had done quite a bit of work on the track, Daljit and I were together listening to it. But then he started asking if we could add certain elements into the track. I advised him that we couldn’t add those kinds of elements, to which he asked how we could add these bits into the track. These elements required a complete rework of everything. The whole song, from the feel, to the tempo, had to be changed, in order to incorporate these elements Daljit was asking for. Within 10 minutes, I made a very rough sketch there and then, in front of him, to show what I meant. I played a drum pattern in, live, added some guitar keys on the keyboard, and some chords also. When Daljit heard what I was proposing, he had made his mind up. This is the route he wanted to take with the track. It was very spontaneous. It was never meant for this track to sound the way it does.
In terms of being different, however, I am capable of making all types of music. Way before our first release, ‘Word Is Born’, I had been practising making a lot of different styles of music. I’ve got so much music made, pre ‘Word Is Born’, which is just sitting at home. But there was never that right opportunity to showcase that side of me. There has been the odd song, here and there though. Songs like ‘Tere Nakhrey Ne’ and ‘Gabru Haan Dha’ from ‘Raw As Folk’, ‘Tehnu Nachdi Vekhna’ on Ashok Prince’s album, ‘Chunni’ on ‘Back To Basics’ – they all have showcased me in a different light. That variety is there, but it all comes down to when we find the right song for those styles. There are certain types of music I would refuse to make (even though I’m capable and have an understanding of that music), because I’m just not into those genres. I’m more into the Soul, Hip-Hop, Folk Desi, and Old Skool Bhangra. Even then, it’s still got to have my stamp on it.
Remembering previous interviews, Back to Basics was a big collaborative effort from you both. Has this been the same case this time round?
Yes, it definitely has. We have sat down in the same manner as before – got a whole bunch of lyrics/ songs and had discussions. It’s been the same process. We’ve got a lot of content that’s been laid down in the studio for future songs. Every song we do this time round though, will have a video. This is due to the fact that with ‘Back To Basics’, Daljit didn’t like it that even though a lot of the songs on the album were supposed to have videos, those videos never got made. Tracks like Strawberry and Band Bottle were meant to have videos. Then it got to the point where it was too late, and everyone had already heard all the songs. This time round, Daljit doesn’t want any of the songs to be ignored. The songs will be released one by one. The process, however, is still like that of an album. The same considerations have been made. We’ve planned this all out strategically. It’s just the final execution that will be slightly different. It’s not going to be the case that every track is aimed for the dance floor. There still will be that variety – The variety you only get with a proper album. This is the reason why ‘El Sueño’ is releasing the way it is.
What else can we expect to hear from you both on the album?
I’ve kind of answered that question partly. I don’t want to give too much away. In terms of what you would expect to hear from Daljit and myself, i.e. the traditional sound; that will very much be prevalent throughout the album. Also, the fusion sound, the contemporary sounds, will all be there too. That variety will be there. That is the key thing. We don’t want all the songs sounding the same. There will be songs that are blatantly influenced by myself more, and there will be songs that are influenced by Daljit more. It’s a proper collaboration again. My main thing is to ensure we are bringing the variety, from the dance floor songs as well as the songs with the Hip-Hop vibe. Then you’ve got the Folk and Bhangra type songs.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
This is something I want to make very clear. ‘Back To Basics’ was and is a UK album. It was made here, in the UK – in Derby. The music and sound of the album was a pure UK sound. It was all recorded, produced, mixed and mastered here in the UK. Every musician on that album, including me, are all UK musicians. Amo Hayer from Kaos Productions (Mandolin), Wicky (Flute), Pammi ‘Sahib Ji’ (Guitar), and Pavitar Singh Pasla (Sarangi) – these are all UK based musicians. Even Tee-L, the producer who made ‘Poh Di Raat’. Everything about that album bleeds the UK, and I’m very proud of that fact.
The same goes with El Sueño. This is a UK product. Daljit is coming to this country, doing his recordings, and working with a UK producer. It’s not an India product. It’s just like when UK producers/ vocalists collaborate with lyricists from India. The end product is still a UK product, and it’s nothing different to the work I’m doing with Daljit. I just want that to be known.
Listen to the track
‘El Sueño’ is releasing on 19th October 2017 on the Famous Studios label.
Bhangra Tape Deck would like to thank Tru-Skool for taking the time out to talk about his and Diljit Dosanjh’s latest offering.