A synergy of reggae, rap and melody

Apache Indian

Apache Indian | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Birmingham, Bhangra and Bob Marley — the factors that shaped the legendary Apache Indian remain a strong force in his music. A pioneer of the reggaeton wave in India in the 90s, his popular numbers like ‘Boom Shack A Lak...’, ‘Chock There’, ‘Arranged Marriage’ and ‘Om Numah Shivaya’ were a staple for the MTV generation who assimilated reggae along with his Bhangra mix.

His latest release is called ‘Rise Up’ (released on May 12), which he penned along with singer-rapper Dinero Ash, also the music composer of the number. The song also features singer-composer Shibani Kashyap. Shibani, Apache and singer-composer Chezin have co-composed the track with Dinero. Chezin is behind the production and arrangement of the song that was launched by the Hungama Artist Aloud., a platform for the independent musicians

Speaking from the UK over a Zoom call, Apache says, “The pandemic has left the world in a bad situation and people are shying away from talking about it. So we felt this was a perfect subject to write about. Dinero has been a dear friend and I have always wanted to work with Shibani.”

Apache always packed a message into his music and believed in using the medium to highlight issues. “Artistes cannot always talk only about good things and sing only love songs. If there’s a situation, musicians should write about it and utilise their name and the platform. We should be able to use our skills and inspire people and try to make a difference. ”

Apache observes there wasn't much pop or reggae back in the 90s. "There's the internet now and musicians are exposed to many genres. They should be part of whichever genre they are comfortable with and contribute to that genre," he says, adding that one should go against the grind and not get stuck at balle balle kind of songs. "Artistes represent their culture and they should represent the problems of their time and their city. When I dealt with the caste system and issues concerning arranged marriage in my song, I was criticised. "

Voice beyond music

Last year Apache was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours for his creation of a new genre — popularly called the ‘Ragamuffin’ music — and his service to aspiring musicians through his Apache Indian Music Academy in Birmingham. However, he was also in the news last year for his critical stand on BBC Radio Asia Network and called for it to be shut down.

Explaining why he did it, Apache says, "There are a lot of problems with that station in the UK. The station has not been truly representing British Asian music. Artistes often complain of the racist bias they face. During the pandemic, when there were no gigs, artists were left with only radio and this station was not supporting the artistes. They should remember the station is supported by the artists and the Radio DJ will not have a job unless he gets music from the artistes, yet he doesn't play their music. As a result, there's no Asian artistes' music on the UK charts. My intention is not to pull down the station but to work together and sort out issues."

Indian roots

Apache's parents moved to the UK from Punjab and his early influences were from his nanny who was from Jamaica and that is reflected in his music. This is closely followed by the Bob Marley effect including the famed dreadlocks. "Bob Marley died on my birthday (May 11) and there's a connection. Reggae and Bob Marley gave me the consciousness that I needed. Though I enjoyed listening to it, I found Bollywood music was just escapism.. we were not talking about violence, or drug menace.. we were not addressing any issues. Even in the Bhangra dance and music which I love, there's no message. I found hope in reggae and started using issues from the Indian context. When I put those two things together, it didn't seem like a big formula but it worked."

Apache doesn't think his dreadlocks are a Jamaican influence, "Dreadlocks are inspired by the sadhus of India, even Jamaicans agree on that," he laughs.

Shibani brings a ray of hope

Singer composer Shibani Kashyap

Singer composer Shibani Kashyap | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Singer-composer Shibani Kashyap was part of the 90s independent music surge and had expanded her repertoire to Bollywood, international collaborations and live concerts. When Dinero Ash invited her to lend her vocals to his composition 'Rise Up', she was only too happy to accept. "I was thrilled to get this call from Dinero, he is a dear buddy of mine. During the lockdown, no shows were happening and we were working on new music. We were all going through negativity and challenges and there was so much sadness around. And we felt why not come up with a song that will give us a ray of hope. So when Dinero came up with this song and told me that he'd got Apache Indian in the project, I was super excited. I have been a huge fan of Apache."

The project kickstarted with Shibani and Dinero working from Delhi and virtually connecting with Apache in the UK. "Dinero sent me the lyrics and I tweaked it in my style. 'Rise Up' has many genres coming together, reggaeton, raggamuffin, rap and melody, it's a cool song," adds Shibani.

Declaring that this is an age of collaborations, Shibani explains why it is a viable option: "Collaborations bring in a cross-promotion of my audience with the other artistes and vice versa. Besides, it's a lot of fun and brings about a lot of excitement and a plethora of fusion and amalgamation of styles."

Shibani has also collaborated with artistes on some popular and extremely successful projects. But she calls 'Rise Up' special because the ‘legend’ Apache is a part of it. “This song will communicate our positive energy and am sure we’ll make a difference,” adds Shibani.

Dinero’s rap to the rescue

Composer-rapper Dinero Ash

Composer-rapper Dinero Ash

Dinero Ash recollects the worst period of the pandemic when the death toll was at its highest and people were desperate for hospital beds, medicine and oxygen. "Every day we were hearing news of people dying and everything seemed to be on the downside. When the businesses came to a standstill the government came forward to support the farmers and the Corporates. Even countries like Canada, the US and the UK were supporting every business but not the artistes. There was sadness and gloom in their families. I thought music is the best way to express positivity and that led to 'Rise Up', “ says singer, rapper and composer Dinero Ash who says he didn’t think beyond his friends Apache and Shibani to be part of that track. “No matter if we were working or not we have always stayed in touch. When I mentioned 'Rise Up', Apache gave a thumbs up. The song is an emotion and it came from our hearts. With the reggae star and melody queen involved, the song lends a different vibe, sound, slant and genre.”

Dinero grew up in the US and absorbed reggae and simplifies the difference between reggae and rap as, “If the words in your track are fast, it is rap, and when sung in melody, it is reggae. I heard singers say they couldn’t sing so they rap. There’s not much awareness regarding the difference between reggae and rap.” A fan of Kishore Kumar, Dinero loves to sing melodies too.

Meanwhile, he hopes Apache can visit India so they can tour together. “Every time he (Apache) books a ticket, something happens and the trip gets cancelled. When he comes we can have a tour and rise up on stage and also have some studio time,” says Dinero.

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Printable version | May 18, 2022 7:31:12 pm |