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Bally Sagoo is back (he never really went away) and has released his first studio album in 10 years, Future Shock, on his new label, Fresh Dope Records. While the album stays true to his vintage roots, Bally tells us "the album doesn't have one type of a sound, has a bit of Punjabi, Hindi, some nice chill out tracks, some nice dancy stuff." All the songs are original, no remixes, no covers and "the whole mood of the album is what I am into now, bit of dance, bit of electro, bit of RnB and obviously some Bhangra on there for my hardcore Bhangra fans."

"I haven't really left the scene, people often assumed I'd gone into real estate or accounting (laughs) but no." Since Hanji came out in 2003, he has "been working on a lot of different things, done other producing work," albeit from another base in Mumbai, "where I have an apartment and studio." Future Shock is a "collection of work over the last few years and I guess it was about time, so to speak." Of his work in India, it "gives me great singers, writers and musicians at my disposal - where better to be than in Bollywood, the hub of where it is all happening."  The album however, uses fresh voices performing original Hindi and Punjabi compositions, something Bally is renowned for. Harry Mirza, Tamara K. Menon, Jagdeep Parwana and Sonu Kakkar are some of the artists featured. We learn that Tamara was a neighbour who auditioned one day! and Sonu Kakkar has that signature Pakistani vocal tone we see Bally use to great effect.

Bally was born in New Delhi, India in May 1964 and moved to England very soon afterwards. His father was a musician and before the age of 10, Bally was often using the hi-fi at home to create mix-tapes in his bedroom, which he dubbed "Curry Wood Studios.” Growing up in Balsall Heath, Birmingham, he listened to the likes of "Heera, Premi, Alaap, Apna Sangeet," who were predominantly wedding bands, "we didn't have Asian street music back then," finding himself more drawn to American and English music. It was this mix of cultures and influences that Bally used to pioneer a form of Indian/Western club music back in the 90's, marrying unique tracks and vocals to reggae, dance, electro and dub and giving old Bollywood hits a 'New Look'. Reminiscing somewhat, "If you weren't around in the 90's you missed a crucial part of the burgeoning Asian music scene,"  crediting much of that success to "record label Oriental Star," which gave him his "first break in producing Hey! Jamalo." 

He has numerous platinum selling albums to his name, including the globally successful ‘Wham Bam’, the ‘Star Crazy’ series (which featured 'Long Gwacha' and 'Gur Nal Ishq Mitha'), the ‘Bollywood Flashback’ series and Hanji. He was also the first Indian artist to be play listed on mainstream radio in the UK when ‘Chura Liya’ was played on BBC Radio 1. He continued to blaze a trail with his following album ‘Rising From The East’ with gems ‘Dil Cheez’ and ‘Tum Bin Jiya’ landing him performances on BBC ‘Top Of The Pops’ and supporting Michael Jackson on his ‘HIStory’ tour of India.  The 2000's saw Bally Sagoo work on music for Monsoon Wedding, Bend it like Beckham, Mistress of Spices, It’s a wonderful afterlife, and even a Punjabi movie, Sajna ve Sajna, in 2006, which he starred and composed the music for.

Musical inspiration is varied, "there are too many sounds. I listen to a lot of music generally, Quincy Jones, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, a lot of black producers and black artists, more recently a lot more Bollywood tracks, but there is not really one person I have on repeat so to speak." Bally has an enviable catalogue with which to work from but delights listeners with new vocals and bar a few tracks, the album as a whole sees him back on form. Wham Bam, glad he is Back.

Future Shock is out now on iTunes.

Interview and Portrait (page62)
Nardip Singh

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