Christmas is just over 4 weeks away, and it seems like we’ve all been on the good list this year, because Santa is gifting us music heads the ultimate present. Something we have prayed and wished for, for years – a track featuring both Jazzy B and Tru-Skool!
We’re not going to bore you with a long introduction, setting the scene for the article, because there wouldn’t be any point. Both Jazzy and Tru-Skool don’t need an introduction. Their illustrious careers give all the introductions required.
Bhangra Tape Deck sat down with the Crown Prince of Bhangra and Super Producer from Derby for an indepth insight into the reasons behind why we’ve been tortured for so long, waiting for this collaboration to happen, the new track, and much more.
This is something we’ve all been waiting for years to happen – a collaboration between Jazzy B and Tru-Skool. Why has it taken so long?
Jazzy B: Well, I guess, whatever happens, happens for a reason. When that happens, that’s not in our control. You can’t plan these things, you know what I mean? When we did meet up, it was the right time. A lot of people have wanted to see us together. You can see across all social media platforms that a lot of people have wanted this collaboration for a while. We have, however, taken our time, but it was only ever going to happen at the right time. Over the years, there have been people spreading rumours about us. Oh, he doesn’t like you, and I don’t like him etc. It’s just silly games that people play with your mind, It’s only until you really meet the person that you know what the truth is. That’s when you get to know the person.
Tru-Skool: Well obviously, many people already know I’m a huge Jazzy B and Shinda fan. I had been saying for years in interviews, on radio etc, that I would like to work with Jazzy, but nothing ever came into fruition. There was, however, rumours going around that there was friction between our party and Jazzy/Shinda’s party. The situation took a turn in early 2014 when Jazzy released a track. This track actually became a catalyst for the whole collaboration. There were some similarities with that song and my music, and something ended up happening on Twitter, to the point where a few friends had tweeted the producer, sparking a disagreement. They said something like, “if you want a song to sound like Tru-Skool, then why don’t you get one made from him?” And that’s when Jazzy got involved and angrily said, “how dare these guys talk about copying when they’ve have been copying us their whole careers?” (To a certain extent, he’s right).
We’re all massive fans of Jazzy’s, and it was starting to look like there was definitely friction, where there really wasn’t. The next day, Jazzy saw Daljit at the Panjabi Film Awards, and had a word with him, saying that he wasn’t happy with all the comments being thrown around from Sukh and his whole crew. Daljit then mentioned to me that Jazzy was annoyed with me, saying that we’ve got no respect. Daljit then explained to Jazzy that this couldn’t be further from the truth. I just didn’t have any way of telling Jazzy that this was all a massive misunderstanding. It’s the same as what Jazzy just said – people just spreading rumours. Daljit set the record straight and said that Sukh is a massive fan, and respects you highly.
So to get to the point, I saw photos of Jazzy with another UK producer, and I was thinking, if Jazzy can work with other producers, why won’t he won’t work with me? I rang Kaka (Dharam Seva Records) up and told him, “Phone Jazzy B and tell him, Tru-Skool has phoned me and said, how come you work with other guys, but you won’t work with me?” Jazzy’s response to this was, “no problem. Let’s do it.” In the end, it’s funny, because something that started off on the negative foot, actually turned into something positive, as we hadn’t even sat down and resolved our misunderstandings. Everything went really well when we finally sat down and spoke.
Ok, so after all that, when did you guys meet?
Jazzy B: Funnily enough, our initial meeting wasn’t for the collaboration. We actually met for the first time in Planet Studios (Coventry) back in 1999, when I was recording ‘Chakdey Boly’ with Sukshinder Shinda Paaji for his album ‘The Way It is’. Sukhi (Tru-Skool) came to the studio with Panjabi MC at the time. I was doing my vocals etc, and when you’re in the studio, you’re in your own zone. We said hello, and that was it. Obviously, I knew who he was, because like myself and Shinda Paaji, Sukhi was/is a folk lover as well.
Tru-Skool: Yeah, you know what? Jazzy is correct in saying that the first time we actually met, (before we sat down and had a proper conversation), was in Planet Studios, when he was recording ‘Chakdey Boly’. Panjabi MC and I used to be together all the time in Coventry, working and recording me playing instruments on his tracks. I have to confess this, haha. What Shinda and Jazzy don’t actually know is, this is the real thing. One time, PMC and I were just driving around, and he knew I was a MASSIVE Shinda fan, because I always used to talk about him and his music, and obviously PMC had recorded Shinda a number of times on his own albums. So, this meant they knew each other on a comfortable level. The conversation went something like:
PMC – “Yo, do you want to meet Shinda?”
Me – “Yeah!”
PMC – “Lets just go Planet.”
Me – “We can’t just walk in!”
PMC – “Na, na, don’t worry. I’ll just make out I’ve come to see Tom (Lowry) about something.”
So we knock on the door, and Shinda comes to door, with the look of like, who has come to disturb my session? Then he notices PMC, so he was cool with it. And all this time, I’m thinking damn, that’s Shinda! We went inside, and PMC was chatting it to Tom, saying this, that and the other, but then I look to my right into the recording room, and low and behold, Jazzy B is there too! This was like Christmas and my birthday rolled up into one! It was mad! I was well young then, because you’re talking around 1999! I was just shocked, because Jazzy was recording the actual song – the exact vocal you hear on tape! He sounded mad! Not only was I hearing Jazzy B record, an iconic song at that, but I was hearing him at his best. When you hear someone sing live, that’s one thing. But when you hear someone in the studio, they’re giving it their 100%. They’re giving you the perfect take. And I was there listening to that for a few minutes! I was in shock! I just didn’t know what to think! I was gobsmacked.
Hang on. 1999 was the first time you guys met?! And you’ve made us wait nearly 20 years for something to release?! We thought waiting 3 years from when you posted that photo was long enough! When did you properly sit down then?
Jazzy B: We officially met during the time the World Cup was happening in 2014. We linked up at a pub in Birmingham, UK. Sukhi, being an Argentina fan, and me being Brazil, we sat talking about football for a bit, and then obviously started talking about music – that’s what it’s all about. We were talking for a good few hours. He was asking me all these questions. That day, we sat and watched the match, chatted for a few hours, chit chatting about our music, our careers. That was officially when we broke the ice, haha. Sukhi told me about how much he likes Sukshinder Shinda Paaji’s music, and my desi folk vocal. That was officially when we met. But then unfortunately, we both carried on doing our own thing, and got busy, until we came together to collaborate on ‘Jatt Da Flag’.
Tru-Skool: When we met in 2014, for me that was literally on some fan boy level. I’ll be honest with you, when we met, I didn’t know if we were going to chill again, so I said everything I’ve ever wanted to say to Jazzy as a fan. Not as a music producer, but as a fan. Questions like, “why aren’t you making songs like this anymore?”, “why aren’t you doing that?” Not only did I speak to him as a fan, I spoke to him as if I was doing his interview, haha! I had said so much to him about this, that and the other, I mean I went all out – a proper full on interrogation! I was so honest, and fully expressing myself. What I was surprised about was he sat there, and just let me say whatever I wanted.
How did ‘Jatt Da Flag’ come about then?
Jazzy B: We actually went through a lot of songs prior to Jatt Da Flag, but it just wasn’t happening. We had this new lyricist, Amrit Bova, he came to my pind (Durgapur) one day to show me some songs he had written, and he showed me what is now ‘Jatt Da Flag’. It was really well written, my kinda style. Plus I hadn’t done a duet in a quite a while, so I thought it would be a good idea to do it. When I showed it to Sukhi, he liked the song too. That’s it man. I went down to his studio in Derby to record the song, and here it is, days away from release.
Tru-Skool: We were going back and forward with the song ideas for over 3 years, but none were really outstanding. Many months passed and I hadn’t heard from Jazzy, but then out of the blue, I see a WhatsApp message pop up on my phone from Jazzy. The conversation wasn’t work related in the slightest to begin with, so I just thought it was one of those. But then Jazzy cuts to the chase and goes, “Look. I’ve got a duet song. I want to release it (meaning he’s already set on this song being released). Do you want to do it?” That message changed the whole dynamic of the collaboration, as it was now Jazzy asking me if I wanted to provide the music for one of his upcoming releases. After speaking to my family and friends, I decided to do the song. Jazzy sent over a rough vocal in a low key. I replied to Jazzy saying it was good, so we both agreed that I should spend an evening trying things out, and if it sounded good, then it was game on. Luckily, it all went to plan.
Tru-Skool, you’ve mentioned that ‘Jatt Da Flag’ is on a desi vibe on social media. How desi are we talking? Kharku Desi or Ashok Prince Folk Desi?
Tru-Skool: This track is a traditional Dhol kinda style, so maybe Kharku is a good example. It’s that sort of tempo. For me, what this song and collaboration is all about is getting Jazzy B in the studio, attempting to record him with my methods, and really trying to get the full potential out of his vocal. I’m so happy with the final result. When I listen to vocals and show them to my friends and family, they say it’s almost like the old Jazzy B! That’s all I want to hear. This is what is going to make people want to hear the song, because they’re going to hear that vocal again. ‘Jatt Da Flag’ is a Desi Panjabi track. It’s got a tough beat, and Jazzy just sounds dangerous on it.
What was it like working with each other?
Jazzy B: Well, working with Sukhi was a lot of fun. He knows what he’s doing, and he’s very serious about his work. I’m used to that work ethic because of working with Sukshinder Shinda Paaji for many years. Shinda Paaji takes his time, and he’s a perfectionist. Sukhi is very much the same. He’s a big fan of my music, and wanted me to sound like the old Jazzy B, from the Ghughian Da Jorha/Londono Patola days. I’m really happy with the final product, and I can’t wait for you all to hear it. I hope you guys like it.
Tru-Skool: Although I’m a massive fan of Jazzy, when it came to recording, there was no fan boy. I had to say to him that, “look, although there’s a massive respect there, I can’t be scared of you when we’re recording, because it’s not going to be good for the performance otherwise.” Jazzy was like, “yeah, no problem, man. Work is work, at the end of the day.” I’m a vocal teacher – I teach people how to sing. When Jazzy was in that vocal booth, I had to see it as, I’ve got to get that result. To my surprise, which is such a brilliant thing, he has got no ego, no attitude, no arrogance. When we’re in the studio, he stays quiet and expects you to do the job. He expects you to direct him. He’s got the best attitude. He’s open to ideas and retakes if lines weren’t sounding right. He never complained, not even once. The guy is like a machine. He was coming in and out of that vocal booth, listening to stuff. There’d be times where I’d be like, “Jazzy, can you do this?” And he’d be up, straight, bang in. The guy could sing all night. He listens to everything you say, and will let you push him to the absolute max. There is no complaint. Jazzy has got so much depth to what he is capable of, vocally, it’s just about someone being capable of bringing that out of him. If you’re like, “Jazzy, we’ll be done in 10 minutes,” then you will be done in 10 minutes. But if you keep offering ideas to Jazzy, he will go on and on. He’s got that stamina. I really appreciated how he was, because he could have easily been like, “I’m happy with it, and this is how it’s going to be”, and that would have been it. But, fortunately, there wasn’t an ounce of that present anywhere.
Is this collaboration the start of something between you both? Will you be working on more material together?
Jazzy B: Oh yeah, definitely! We keep talking, back and forth. Obviously, we’re still waiting for ‘Jatt Da Flag’ to release, and the attention is currently on promoting this song. But, there will be a lot of stuff to come from Sukhi and I, working our old sounds, like on the Londono Patola vibe. Watch out for all of that to come!
Tru-Skool: Absolutely! 100% yes! I have so many ideas that I want to try out with Jazzy, but with ‘Jatt Da Flag’, it was the case that we need to get something out now. One song is just not enough. If we did an album, or an EP together, I think that’s where I can really give the fans a body of work that will fully satisfy what they want from the Jazzy B/Tru-Skool collaboration. There is so much more I can do than just this one song. I want that to happen, and we have been talking about that possibility. If it does come into fruition, then we can come with something explosive.
On a final note, I want to say something. Sukshinder Shinda and Jazzy B are huge reasons why JK and I are doing what we do. They are the originals. I don’t want people to turn around and make comparisons, because not only are they the originals, we’ve grown up listening to their music, we’re influenced by them, and have tried to be like them. But as far as we’re concerned, what Jazzy and Shinda have done will always be number one. I hope people enjoy what they are about to hear, and are ready for what Jazzy and I bring in the future.
Massive thanks to Bhangra Tape Deck, as you guys are doing a great job.
Support the track!
‘Jatt Da Flag’ is releasing on 30th November 2018 on T-Series via all major digital outlets.
No preorder links have been made available as of yet, but we’ll be sure to update the article when they are released.
Bhangra Tape Deck would like to thank both Jazzy B and Tru-Skool for taking the time out to talk about their first track together. No doubt this will be the first of many releases…