Bonds of brotherhood and music keep U.K.-based band RDB focussed on churning out hits every year. They talk about how Bollywood and their hip-hop bhangra sound take them places

It has been a tough time for RDB (acronym from Rhythm, Dhol, Bass), the U.K.-based hip-hop bhangra band of brothers after the sudden demise of Kuldeep Ral earlier this year. RDB was founded by brothers Kuldeep, Manjeet Ral and Surjeet Singh over a decade ago and has consistently been churning out chartbusters in Bollywood (‘Singh is Kingg’, ‘Om Mangalam’, ‘Shera Di Kaum’, ‘Sadi Gali’, ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana’) over the last five years.

The band recently dedicated ‘Yaadan’ to remember Kuly, featuring a verse by their father Harjog Singh, who also wrote the song. The song is available for download on the band’s official Facebook page.

“This song was the hardest one we’ve ever had to sing, and was very emotional for us all. Dad would tear at every line he would sing. This song is from the heart and we hope the world appreciates it,” says Manj on the band’s site.

“RDB defines and personifies the three brothers that established the band and our genre,” the band speaks as one in an exclusive email interview.

“We will always be brothers first and, to be honest, we are very lucky to share a collective vision when it comes to work. We always remember to stay focussed — music is what we do for a living, but brotherhood is our lifeline.”

How do they divide their time between Bollywood and the world?

“A majority of our work is season-based and depends on where we are in the world at that time. Our tendency is to set up new Bollywood projects while touring India between October and February. We then tour and release in North America between March and August and cater to fans across the U.K. and Pakistan during August and September. Obviously, this changes when we have a large project to finish, whether it’s Bollywood or a mainstream international collaboration.”

Bollywood brings recognition

The band admits that Bollywood has brought them more recognition around India and the world. “Bollywood is an international phenomenon, with the U.K. being the largest audience for Bollywood outside of India. Our urban-Bhangra work has a niche audience but, at the same time, it is getting widespread awareness and appreciation as we experiment with our sound. We create tracks that appeal to a broader audience, while being true to the sounds that define traditional Indian.”

The fact that they get a free hand is a shot in the arm. “Independent scoring is a thing of the past in Bollywood films. Directors and producers allow us to create unique promotional tracks which then become part of the background score of the film.”

Does the band have any preferences for recording live over using samples or loops? “A kick drum will always be a kick drum and a piano a piano! It’s not about the individual samples, beats or sounds you use, but more about how they are composed together to create a super hit song. How are different composers able to create different variations of the same song? It’s all in the creative flair and tools.”