Bhangra not just about balle balle, hoye hoye: Bally Sagoo

By Kishori Sud

New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS) In the 1990s, he won hearts with his re-worked version of “Chura liya” — and hits like “Gur nalon ishq mitha”, “Dil cheez” and “Tum bin” — at a time when social media was nowhere in sight. British-Indian record producer Baljit Singh Sagoo, known better as Bally Sagoo, says there is a misconception that Punjab’s bhangra music genre is just about “balle balle” and “hoye hoye”.

Sagoo believes Bollywood has progressed a lot with new sounds, but not bhangra music.

“Bhangra is not just about the balle balle and hoye hoye. The kids out there don’t want to listen to Punjabi music. And when I say Punjabi music, it’s the language fused with different sounds, just like English, Latino and other global sounds.

“My music differs and I have been serving different tastes in most of my albums — varying from mellow, dance, R&B and romantic, so there’s a variety in there with bhangra songs,” Sagoo, who has three decades of experience in the music industry, told IANS.

He said that in Punjab, people are still using the beats which he was using in the early 1990s.

“They use the same types of percussion… whereas, in my opinion, they should be fusing the language with different sounds — with a bit of bhangra as we all love it. Also, one major thing is that female singers are missing. It has always been a male-dominated industry. It should be a collaborative effort,” said Sagoo, who performed in Gurugram on Friday for Lohri celebrations at DLF Cyber Hub.

With most Punjabi songs hailing figures of women, flashy cars and watches, Sagoo, who has scored music for films like “Bend It Like Beckham” and “Monsoon Wedding”, says people should look beyond “trying to get a big fat car or a big fat chain or something like that in a video”.

“I think today’s songs pretty much contain some sort of violence, drugs, women and bling, and I personally don’t really like that kind of stuff, I don’t like that kind of videos… I think they give pretty much a wrong impression… to the youngsters, to the kids out there,” said the 53-year-old artiste.

“India now has access to what happens around the world. Of course, a lot of people are seeing what is happening all over the world… (but) some things don’t work in our society and in our culture,” he added.

Sagoo said he prefers making videos that people can enjoy even with family members.

“I don’t like the guns, the gangsters or any sort of violence. People should be making more and more true music and experimenting more… With bhangra music, it is the same topic: Boy meets girl; boy tries to impress the girl… I guess more and more new styles of music should be introduced into bhangra music,” said Sagoo, who has been flying to and fro between India and the UK.

On the trend he foresees in the music industry, Sagoo pointed out how India has a lot of DJs, but few record producers.

“To compete with the world, we really need a lot more composers and new, serious vocalists. We have a lot of DJs but not producers. The trend is towards the R&B and the hip-hop side,” said the artiste, whose last album was “Cafe Punjab” released in 2015.

Stressing that “Bollywood will always be the king”, Sagoo said there are people outside India who want to hear different sounds and vibes. Which is why he wants more and more people to constantly push the boundaries.

Sagoo is currently handling several new projects and will soon be “dropping a brand new album”.

(Kishori Sud can be contacted at kishori.s@ians.in)

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