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We caught up with singer, writer and producer, Foji, at a summer mela and got the opportunity to speak to him about his love of music and his debut album, Dafa Hoja, which has taken the bhangra scene by storm. Originally born in Coventry, you learned your trade, dancing with Nachda Sansaar for 10 years and later on with the group, performing the vocals and boliyaan.

How has the passion for music grown over the years, was it instilled in you from a young age?

As a kid I was always tapping and singing and it grew more and more. I used to dance a lot and it was nice to join a Bhangra group.

You put a lot of fun and comical acting into your music videos, is that a conscious decision to stay away from the glitz and the glamour in atypical bhangra videos?

I think there is too much fake bling out there and I will endeavour to keep it real and well, have a laugh at the same time. Coming up with unusual concepts will be how we approach videos from here on in – for example the bullring flash-mob came about from seeing flash mob videos on youtube and we wanted to create a Bhangra spin on it.

Speaking of artists, are you inspired by any, or had any major influences from, growing up?

I was a big fan of Gurdas Man as a kid, growing up I listened Kuldip Manak, Sulinder Kaur, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, but different Western genres also. Each song on the album is inspired by an artist or style of one, with certain nuances adopted on each track.

With a voice that is quite strong and projects very well, is that something you have had to work a lot on backstage, in particular, the vocal training from Soni Atwal, Dawn and Surinder Khan?

They put into perspective how to project your voice, making you realise where it comes from and how to use it best.

You're at ease performing in front of a crowd, do you still feel nervous?

You always get a tingle at first, but once I am on stage, it all disappears and I am in my own world, lost in the music. That interaction with the crowd comes natural to me I guess, getting the people involved makes the difference.

Are there any performers you would like to collaborate with in future?

think would be great to work with.

Speaking of future tracks and videos, is there anything the pipeline coming up?

Yeah, we are working on the next album. There is a duet called Mintaan with Gurlej Akhtar – another dancy kind of song.

Looking at the cover of Dafa Hoja, the lenticular card and dual images with both the western and eastern look, was that a statement you wanted to make?

I love what I am doing, I am Punjabi and the whole pag (turban) and dhari (beard) is a character thing - to show people different sides of me. I love flipping my style and look too suit the song or music video I am performing in. East does meet West but I'd like to think I am still rooted, proud of my culture and heritage.

Interview and photographs by Nardip Singh

As featured in Unfolded Magazine Issue 04

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