British Asian Music Scene

broadcasted in 1999 – full transcript follows, all rights reserved!

Feature Production / Cool DW

Minidisk Manual:
(1) Gwandyaa Music Track from Stereonations CDSR 465 (1999)
(2) DZ/BA Feature: Length 5’50
IN: Great Britai.n
OUT: Daniel Zylbersztain from London
Relatd Internetpages for Cool’s new WWW Link Site: for Bally Sagoo for Soundnation


Apache Indian:
Boom Shack-A-Lak (1993) CID 560
862 5372
Duration 7’’

Bally Sagoo
Bollywood Flashback
Sony 4776974
Duration: 20’’

Bally Sagoo: Dub of Asia,
Promo Copy
Ishq Records 1999

Own recording!

Background: Fun-Da-Mental:
Frontline (1994) on Inner Nation (John Peel), Strange Fruit/Pinical Label; Duration 3’’

Britain hasGreat had an Asian and Indian population since about the 16th century, but when in the U.K people refer to “British Asians” they normally mean more recent migrants of continental Indian background, who came to the United Kingdom from the 1950’s onwards. Their children and grand children have now created a unique new style of music that reflects the many different influences that shaped them.

Pam Sambie is presenter of the BBC Asian Network, and usually the first contact of upcoming British Asian bands.

It’s amazing here in England. Especially in London. I’d say London a hometown of Asian underground music. It’s music which really want to make they make it for themselves. It’s all about the influences it’s all about their childhood it’ all about what they’ve been through in life. Some, not all of them, but certain bands tend to write kind of aggressive lyrics about political issues. The second generation are trying to move away – not so much in a bad way- but to keep their identity of their Asian cultures, but also to persue a career in singing. Being an Artist, being a
Musician, which ever one.

Soon the first successes were at sight. Apache Indian reached the British top ten with Boom Shack-A-Lak in 93, and was soon followed by artists like Bally Sagoo, who managed to sign Sony with Bollywood Flashbacks a mutation of famous Indian film-songs with current dance tunes. Bally Sagoo who has just released a new album called the Dub of Asia in his Birminham based studio:

Bally Sagoo: The UK is playing a very very important part in this style of music. The fusion of Eastern and Western Sounds has been started by people like myself. I’m a British Asian, my parents being Indian want me to be Indian at the same time. We felt – like myself felt, that there was a need for Indian music to sound funky and Westernized, and heavy drum beats and bass line and the kind of music I like listening to in nightclubs. I don’t want to hear any racism remarks, that don’t understand your music because nobody can understand Enigma, nobody can understand Makarena. I broke down a lot of barriers and I made sure that our music was there to be heard not ignored.

Despite most singers in India being female, the first wave of Asian British musicians were male. But this seems to be changing rapidly. Hardoure is one of the female vocalists of the second wave of current musicians:

Check it out Yo! First you’re a girl, second you’re Asian. And that makes it even more difficult for you, it’s very male dominated. We’re trying to do our music and have a good time really. I don’t really answer this for everybody, it’s just music is hip hop. And that’s the different thing you see, ‘cause I’m an Asian female, and there’s no other Asian female rap artist. Caure means Queen, yeah, and I ‘m Siik, so when you’re a Siik girl your name would be very very coure, and coure means queen, so I ve used that. I’ve been doing everything different according to rest of the sterotypes and people take that to be either she thinks she’s bad or she thinks she is hard.

Ah boom with the word in my head ‘c cause I’m raw
Lyricly formed coming through your stereo…

One of the most powerful groups in terms of their lyrics, alongside Asian Dub Foundation, is the group Fun-Da-Mental. Almost all their songs deal with social criticism and their music is heavily influenced by the Punk and Independent Scene, though Fundamental’s remains loyal to an Asian orientation according to their band headman Aki:

Aki: We’re into cultural kind of identity, but in a very spiritual way, , and we’re against human abuses, try to bridge together people. You know we feel, you know, we’re kinda like we do what we wonna do not what the music business wants you to do. I don’t mind the term Asian band, but not British, I don’t think I am British, I don’t think want to be British , because I don’t know what is to be British. You know, who’s to say if I was born and brought up in Pakistan I won’t be doing mad music?

Stereonations: Nasha:
CDSR 465
Duration: 34’

OUT: Tas Unplucked In terms of current success Stereonations are one of the leading atists in the Asian charts both in their home-country as well as in Asia.

Taz: You know we’were growing up with different music around us from Reggae to Soul to Hip Hop, Motown, Jazz, you know, you name it, and also Indian folk music, and when you grow up with all those different styles around you know you naturally pick up on different things. And you know I started experimenting with all different fusions, different types of music. The fusion that I represent, the kind of music that I am making is very unorthodox and it’s not something that is consciously done to please anybody, it.s something that’s a natural fusion as opposed to: Oh, we’ll manufacture a track, to that particular audience!

Musicians like Apache Indian, Black Starliner, Cornershop Bally Sagoo, Hardcaur, Fundamental or Stereonations are now just as much part of British music today as once were the Beatles. A year ago a British Asian music award was created to make the scene more noticeable. But their success seems still to have some difficulties to break the barrier to the leading British top ten ever so often dominated by Ibiza Pop, or the Spice Girls.

Daniel Zylbersztajn from London