Desi-Box caught up with canadian singer Raghav, we spoke to the star regarding his new single Fire, what his been upto? what we can expect from his new album, H-Dhami and much more. Without further ado guys we present to you Raghav!
DB: Raghav, hi! It’s been a while. How are you?
Raghav: Very well, thank you. How are you?
DB: Great! Apart from working hard on your third album, what else have you been up to as of recent?
Raghav: Well you know, the last 6 months I’ve really just been in the studio and working on the album. Before that, I think it’s been pretty well documented, I had to be at home with my family last year; I spent a lot of time with my family last year. Being with them, it was very special, and a very tough time obviously and that was very important to me – and now it’s good to be back on the scene!
DB: Okay, going on to your albums – so far we’ve had ‘Storyteller’ and then ‘Identity’ each bringing us a variety of sounds. What can we expect that’s different in your third album, which is yet to be released?
Raghav: Well it is very different. Very, very different from ‘Identity’. I’ve always thought that the songs in ‘Storyteller’ were much stronger than the ones in ‘Identity’; I think that’s a general consensus among the fans aswell and I’m not ashamed to admit that that wasn’t my best period of writing. Having said that, now I feel like I’m going through my best period of writing, you know? The songs are really, really strong; I’m working with, I think, 2 of the best producers on the planet (the stuff that you’ve heard from Labrinth obviously, and the stuff coming out with Jim Beanz) so it’s a very exciting time and I just hope all the people feel the same way about the record.
DB: Absolutely! Up until now we’ve heard ‘So Much’ and ‘Kya Se Kya Hogaya’. Can you tell your desi-box fans a little bit about each song, and their influences?
Raghav: Well ‘So Much’ was influenced by the person I was working with. Labrinth wanted to reinvent my sound a little bit, in a subconscious way, not in a conscious ‘let’s sit down and reinvent this’ kind of way, so that was very cool and I got to take some of his influence and the way I write, and that’s what it is. ‘Kya Se Kya’ was taking it back to basics in terms of… You know, it’s very much like ‘Teri Baaton’ in terms of it being a reggae rhythm with a simple, simple Hindi song over it, and beautiful lyrics in the song. It was just so much fun to sing that record. It was again, trying to show diversity, showing that I could do a record like ‘So Much’ then go to the extreme and do a record like ‘Kya Se Kya’ and now it’s good to start 2011 with ‘Fire’.
I’ve always thought that the songs in ‘Storyteller’ were much stronger than the ones in ‘Identity’
DB: In regards to ‘So Much’, there were 2 other very different versions of the song released: one featuring H-Dhami with a Panjabi vibe, and the other featuring Bashy with a Grime element. Why did you decide on these 2 very different versions? Can we expect completely opposite versions of any of the other tracks on the new album?
Raghav: Well the Bashy thing and the H-Dhami thing is ‘cause I’m fans of both of them as artists, right? And everyone, you know, they always make comparisons – people saying it would never work with H-Dhami, and I was like that’s ridiculous; I’m a big fan of his actually and I think he’s tremendously talented, I think he’s a good human being, I think he’s done things in his genre that haven’t been done before. Bashy? Urm, well Bashy’s just a person I’ve been following; he’s got such an amazing hustle and he’s just such a talent. The guy’s such a talented artist, and when I say artist I don’t mean just a rapper: he’s a great actor and everything, and I’ve got a lot of respect for him, and when I asked him, he graced the record and I thought, you know, for the different markets and everything… The Kardinal Offishall being the main version that has had the most success, internationally and in Canada, and I thought here are 3 great artists who I respect, love and admire, and they’re on the record!
DB: Awesome! So, you’re set to release ‘Fire’ next, of which we’ve heard the teaser. It has a very pop-rock sound, and is something different from you. What is the story behind ‘Fire’?
Raghav: The story is that I love music. I listen to country, rock, alternative, hip-hop, Indian, Bollywood, classical Indian growing up, so over the span of a career those influences are going to come out, I think. There’s almost a pop/country feel to the way that I vocalled ‘Fire’ but it’s definitely a dance track; you know, it’s still fusing different parts of my musicality together and it’s a record that I’m fiercely, fiercely proud of ‘cause I think it’s different and it sets an energy and a tone to this new phase in my career that I think I needed right now.
DB: We love the name you’ve chosen for your third album, ‘The Phoenix’. It’s very striking. The Oxford English Dictionary describes a phoenix as “a unique bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian desert, after this time burning itself on a funeral pyre and rising from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle…”. Is this the message you’re trying to convey through the music on this album? Is this a metaphor for your music, for yourself, or both?
Raghav: It’s kind of a metaphor for where I feel I am in my career and so, the out of the ashes thing is obviously what sticks out, but that’s not really where I got it from. I knew it was a mythological character that could change form when it was reborn but it still kept the aspects of its previous life the strongest; it’s like not forgetting where you came from but still being able to change and get better, and that’s what I’m looking to do with the album here. It’s been a long time coming and the albums still not completely finished yet, but over the first 3 singles on the album I hope people can see that album has the same meaning as what I define the Phoenix to be.
DB: Absolutely! Producers on the album include some respected names, including Labrinth and Jim Beanz. How has it been working with them? What do you think each of them have contributed to your third album?
Raghav: Oh, I mean absolute genius! Labrinth and Jim are both genius, genius producers in very different ways; in very, very different ways in fact! The vocals that I’ve done on a record with Jim called ‘Love’ are probably the best that I’ve ever sung in my life and I tribute that to him for getting a side out of my vocals that even I didn’t know I had. I’ve always thought that I can sing and I’m a good singer but he makes me sound on that record like, just, amazing. You gotta owe credit to your collaborators for making you better. Labrinth… He thinks of things to do in records, as you can hear in all the records that he’s done with people outside of me aswell, that people wouldn’t even think of doing! ‘Pas s out’ is one of the brilliant tracks of our generation; the Tinie Tempah record… is something that I think we’re gonna look at in 20 years time and say, ‘Man, that was out of this world!’. So, to be in the studio with him, again was a massive learning experience and just freshening up my sound a little bit, you know? For a little while in between I felt like I was driving the boat to the point where I really wanted to work with people who could do something different with me, so that I wasn’t doing the same old thing, and these guys are by far, the 2 most underrated producers on the planet, and I think they’re both gonna change musical history in their own right ‘cause they really are that good.
They always make comparisons saying it would never work with H-Dhami
DB: With this album, you’re taking on your first commercial release in North America. Excited? Nervous? Tell us how you’re feeling.
Raghav: I’m excited because I have a deal in Canada; I don’t have a deal in the States (yet!), and so to be able to do all this that we did in the UK a few years ago, at home with my family? Well, that’s like very, very exciting. So, going through that is a lot of fun; every week hearing what stations are now adding the record and stuff, that’s a lot of fun you know? It’s good to maybe have the ability to spend more time at home over the next few years so I’m excited about Canada. I am really excited, I’m not making any qualms of it. I mean, I’m looking for a deal in America to put out a record there aswell. I’ve never really looked for a deal before in America – if you go and speak to people in the industry, you know they really haven’t been out shopping around; they didn’t feel like I was ready for that and I really wanted to concentrate on my fan base and making Indian records for people around the world and doing that out of the UK, and spending a lot of time in India and the Middle-East… So, I am excited, I hope it reaches some success, but even if it doesn’t then, I mean I’d be happy to say that I’ve made records that I’m proud of and that are now getting the attention of people that are on a different continent, than maybe I have in the past.
DB: Great stuff! Before we let you go, tell us when and where your new single ‘Fire’ will be available for your fans to purchase?
Raghav: ‘Fire’ is out on ITunes right now, and hopefully it will start playing on radio in the States pretty soon, I’d imagine in the next few months – nothing imminently. In Canada, it’s already out. Please if you can, go out and go request it at your local pop or top 40 station: we’re getting a great response, so it’s out there, and I really would appreciate peoples support. Being an independent artist these days is not like being signed to big majors in the world and having that support; we need as many records as we can to keep out movement going so that we’re allowed to make music for a living so I do encourage people and plead with them, to please go and buy the record on ITunes.
DB: …And also, any potential dates for the release of ‘The Phoenix’?
Raghav: Not ‘til the end of the year. I’m thinking probably closer to October – somewhere between August and November. A little 3-4 month time frame within which I see it coming out, but I’m excited and it’s sounding good to me, so I hope people like it!
DB: Thank you very much for giving us your time Raghav, we wish you the very best. Do you have a message for your desi-box.com fans before you go?
Raghav: Well, just thanks very much! Desi-Box has always supported me and always been interested in what I’m doing. You know, I appreciate the interest because without that I’m nothing. So thank you guys, and thank you to the fans. I know they thought I was dead (laughs), but I’ve tried to be as honest as I can about why I’ve been away, but more importantly I’M BACK. Hope you guys enjoy the record… It’s gonna be a lot of FUN! Peace.
By Sabah Ismail