Interview with Top US Bhangra Talent Rav-E

Interview with Top US Bhangra Talent Rav-E
Rav-E pictured with the dhol/ Photo credit to Odell Hussey

California born and raised Rav-E is a US bhangra musician. A DJ, producer, and a dhol player, he is signed to top UK producers Tigerstyle’s label Soldier Sound recordings.

Rav-E aims to elevate bhangra music to a new level of international recognition. He has already shared the stage with some of the genre’s biggest names from Punjabi MC, RDB, Dr Zeus and Juggy D.

I catch up with the versatile performer for a Q and A.

How did you get your first start in the music industry?

Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. But only recently have I been involved in the music industry as a producer. My start came about after sending Tigerstyle a demo of my work. After taking a listen, they offered me a deal with their label Soldier Sound Recordings.

You are a DJ, Producer and dhol player. What aspect is it of each discipline that you enjoy?

DJ: I really enjoy mixing music on the fly and making people dance. Being a good DJ involves being able to read the crowd and being familiar with your music. What I love most is having the opportunity to think fast on your feet, crafting a set on the fly, reading the crowd, and then leading them in a certain direction with the music.

Producer: As a producer I really enjoy creating music that I myself would like to listen to. But within the creative process, I really enjoy learning new things and being able to do things that I once thought were impossible or not within my skill set. This drive to learn new techniques or methods ultimately that leads to a better end result.

Dhol Player: Growing up, I learned how to play the tabla and also played drums in my school bands, so drumming was always my first love. Playing the dhol is really something else though. The infectious energy that the dhol emits is parallel to nothing else I have ever seen. My favorite part about playing dhol is being able to share the energy of bhangra music with the crowd. As soon as the drumming begins, there is always a noticeable reaction and increase in the energy level of every crowd I have ever played in front of. Seeing such positive reactions from crowds is what makes it fun.

Describe the style of music you produce? Who were your musical influences growing up?

My style of music ranges from straight traditional folk, to the synth infused UK style and everything in-between. I’ve had many musical influences, but the ones that stand out are Sukhshinder Shinda, Tigerstyle, Tru Skool, Kuldip Manak, Surinder Shinda, and Gurdas Mann.

As a member of San Francisco’s Non-Stop Bhangra collective, tell us more about them?

The Non-Stop Bhangra Collective is a group of Deejay’s, Dhol Players, and Dancers. The crew, founded by Dj Jimmy Love, Vicki Virk and Suman Raj, hosts a monthly even in San Francisco that celebrates the beauty of bhangra. The event is not your typical club night since its goal is to share the music and form of dance with the masses. As a result, a very diverse crowd comes to the monthly events. In my opinion, Non-Stop Bhangra has become quite a legendary night over the years and is by far my all time favorite place to DJ and play dhol.

What is the bhangra scene like in California?

The Bhangra scene in California has slowed down a bit over the last 5 years or so. I remember when I was younger, there were many more Bhangra or Desi parties taking place in the Bay Area and LA. However, after a stretch of poorly planned events and frequent fights, it seems people stopped going to these events. But recently things have started to pick up and the new wave of event organizers and promoters seem to be making progress in the right direction. Currently, most of the bhangra events in California are after party’s for competitions.

What are the differences between the US and UK bhangra scene?

The US bhangra scene is very small and is still developing, while the UK scene has been around for decades. The main reason behind this is the fact that the UK has such a large number of Punjabi’s and Indian’s in such a small area, while in the US we are very spread out. For that reason, the UK artists are able to get more gigs and effectively promote their work, making their careers financially viable. But as the scene in the US grows, I am certain more singers, producers, and musicians will start popping up as a real platform begins to establish.

You’ve performed in Chicago many times. What has your experiences been like performing in the city? How do you find the Chicago crowd whenever you perform here?

I have performed in Chicago quite a number of times, but mainly at Bhangratheque which is put together by DJ Jimmy Singh. I’ve always had pretty good experiences in Chicago. The scene is smaller in the Chi than California, but the energy and vibe is great and most crowds are open to new music, which is always a plus for DJs! Although the crowds out there usually want more Bollywood music, they do appreciate bhangra as well.

Do you find bhangra music appealing outside of the South Asian demographic?

From my experiences with Non-Stop Bhangra, it definitely is! Many of the attendees at the monthly events are not of South Asian decent. Many people, especially in the SF Bay Area, are familiar with bhangra one way or another. The music and dance has grown tremendously thanks to different sources. I think its only a matter of time before it becomes a household name in the US. It has this infectious energy that really makes people dance.

You are signed to Tigerstyle’s 'Soldier Sound Recordings' How did that come about?

It was actually very unexpected. I was up late one night working on a paper during my first year of Law school. I decided to take a break and went on Facebook where I noticed Tigerstyle had created a fan page for their record label. I went on it and for some reason just decided to send them a sample of my work. I’ve always been a fan of their music and have respected them as artists, so I thought it would be amazing to link with them. I wasn’t really expecting a response and just wanted to see what happened as I felt I had nothing to lose, but much to gain. A few hours later I received a positive response and the rest was history!

Do you have any advice to give to those looking to make it in the US bhangra scene?

My main piece of advice is to really learn your craft and to always practice! I feel that too many people are trying to make music without really learning how to properly make it, or how to properly play instruments.

You have produced a single called ‘Jogi’ for singer Ladla Punjabi. Tell us more about it and of your upcoming releases.

This single was actually an experiment. Ladla and I linked up one night just to talk and get to know each other. He was looking for a producer to work with and I was looking for a singer. At the end of our chat, he gave me a few lines from “Jogi” and I thought they were something I could work with. But unfortunately, I did not touch the vocals for quite sometime because I had just started Law school and got busy with my first single release “Haan Karde” under Soldier Sound recordings. About 8 months later I sent Ladla an email with something I had put together and he absolutely loved it. We linked up again and finished the track. Ladla shot the video himself and we released it independently.

In regards to my upcoming releases, I will be releasing a track called “Punjabi” with the legend Surinder Shinda. It will be the last single release leading up to my debut album. I also have quite a few projects in the works with some talented local California artists as well that I am eager to share with everyone.

Thank you for your time Rav-E. I wish you continued success and hope to see you in Chicago again soon!

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences with you, and most importantly, thank you for promoting bhangra and keeping our culture alive!

Follow Rav-E on Twitter, like him on Facebook and subscribe to his YouTube channel for regular updates:-

Rav-E - Twitter

Rav-E – Facebook

Rav-E - Youtube

Rav-E - SoundCloud

Rav-E is part of the collective known as Non Stop Bhangra. Visit their website by clicking here.

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