After being in the Canadian DJ'ing scene for over 10 years, The Bilz in 2006 rocked dancefloors worldwide with there massive single '2Step Bhangra'. Having now secured deals in both the UK and India, Team Bilz have set there sights on domination worldwide. Consisting of; Master D & Vicious, they have managed to bring out there debut album which has brought a fresh touch to the whole desi music scene! Sukh managed to catch up with the guys, who are currently busy on numerous promotional events to bring you this Exclusive interview!
So for those who are totally oblivious to ‘The Bilz’, tell us a little about your selves?
MASTER-D: We THE BILZ are Montreal’s hottest international urban producers comprising of DJ Vicious & Master-D and we’ve been active in the music scene for over a decade making our way up in the industry. We are definitely proud to be Canadian artists/producers representing North America at an international level and also getting heavy rotation on mainstream top40 radio of our single “2 Step Bhangra” that enjoyed a spot of #6 for almost 3 weeks! Our goal is to break stereotypical/traditional barriers and integrate South Asian sound into mainstream without compromising quality even if it translates into higher costs.
VICIOUS: We’re bringing a whole new ballgame to the industry and its definitely going to make an impact. I’ve worked the urban & desi scene for a while opening up for major artists like Sean Paul, FunkMaster Flex, Apache Indian and did mixtapes featuring heavy hitters like Fatmanscoop, Wayne Wonder and Pitbull! Montreal considers us the Noisemakers of 2007! And for the record “MTL” stands for our hometown Montreal, Canada that we are puttin’ on the map!
The new album ‘2 Step Bhangra’ has just been released in the UK under Envy Entertainment, how did you guys manage to hook up with such a massive label?
MASTER-D: Actually a little correction there- the album is self titled THE BILZ Album and 2 Step Bhangra is the smash hit single from that album. And yeah hooking up with Envy… well, a lot of it has to do with the product we’ve put out. Again like I mentioned earlier, a great deal of attention was given to quality before quantity…Music has rules and guidelines like the rules in a language which is grammar. Not many people are knowledgeable enough or take the time to apply this into their work. But it is an integral part of the composition. I think this is what Brands our work, makes it stand out so much so that the mainstream industry is stopping to recognize it. That’s THE BILZ, because if you are crossover material then you need to know your grammar of both worlds.
Envy shares our vision, our outlook on the industry. They didn’t hold back on their opinion when they initially told us “Hey! If you don’t match up to our expectations, we are not signing you!”
VICIOUS: Our good industry contact (shout out to Gurps) took our album to Envy’s office and told em “listen you gotta see what these guys are all about! It’s definitely fresh! And North American” The Album definitely caught the C.E.O’s attention, after that we negotiated our deal and now we’re blazing all across the U.K! Tune into to ZeeTV or B4U and you’ll definitely catch our single on rotation! So yeah, we are happy to be on their roster and bring about a change in the industry where proper standards need to be set. We and Envy are really sick off seeing what’s out there. I mean you can’t just take a camcorder and make a video, or have no artist direction/appeal, or wear roca-fella chains if you ain’t signed with Roca-Fella? Or you can’t get any kind of actor signing like 3 different vocalists on the track with the DJ decks not plugged-in and have no notion of what DJing is all about!!! We take our business seriously and I think that’s what Envy likes. The bar definitely needs to be raised. We feel comfortable with them and they’ve done a great job so far.
I’ve managed to flick through the album and it contains a wide variety of sounds which is unique for any album these days! How long did it take to complete the album and what genre of music do you consider yourself most interested in?
Master D: I believe that every song on an album should be good enough to be a single.
It took a lot of thinking, planning, co-ordinating and creativity with 1 ½ years in the making. Yeah, Vicious and I think variety is good… lol I mean it is the spice of life! Lol! We incorporated a lot of acoustic sounds like mandolin, flamenco guitar, tabla, tavil, tumbi, dhol, harmonica etc. Balle Balle, which is another eye catcher track on THE BILZ Album, turned out great with Blues and Punjabi lyrics (Blues Bhangra). I mean these are things that people are reserved and afraid to try but we did it! We also got some Reggaeton in there and the song Na Na Na- Stick That Thing Out was made in a Tapankoothu style- a folk beat traditionally from the Tamil Nadu/Karnatic region. Tapankoothu is a groove of 6/8 feel. But a lot of other regions in India such as Bengal, Maharashtra etc. use this 6/8 feel which most desi producers have not ventured into so we thought we’d represent and do it!
And last but not least we have our Bhangra both traditional in Truck Anthem and non traditional in 2 Step Bhangra. I listen to Beethoven, Indian classical, World music and of course a lot of Urban music, but I think I would consider my self being a World/Urban lover.
VICIOUS: So for all the haters who think we can’t do it, its there so go get the album it’s worth the meal! I’m more into Urban & House. I can listen to classical music too, it relaxes me and sometimes makes me feel like I’m driving in a Rolls Royce lol.
Canada isn’t all too well known for making an impact in the UK scene apart from a certain Jazzy B we have been oblivious to the talents of the Canadian music scene, what do you think of the state of the North American desi music scene at the moment?
Master D: Well, that means Jazzy-B needs to holla at THE BILZ for his next album! It’s definitely a Canadian hookup that we’d be delighted to work with!lol As for the scene in Canada, well I think the reason behind that is there is no means of media, or proper label promotion/funding that exists in North America for South Asians. I mean for Bhangra there might be a few but they just don’t take risks and are lazy. Like when we approached them they said we are too mainstream, in one way which is great for them but they lucked out and now we are working independently with mainstream stores like HMV, BestBuy & Music World soon. That’s why Bilz Music is the foundation of that, to build and network the proper medium for mainstream South Asian Urban/Pop music so that North Americans can enjoy it. As for the North American scene, it’s bubbling heavy, so ya’ll better get ready. Everyone not just in N. America but in the U.K as well are noticing how the new acts are doing anything in the U.K especially on the Bhangra scene to make a quick buck with cheap videos & recycled music and since everyone looks up to the U.K scene for desi music its just killing the vibe for consumers and listeners. So the industry “clean up” is going to happen soon. We give props to X1X films for doing really eye catching videos though! I give props to Kateyez who’s been pushing his music worldwide with Snow, and Nivla who’s also another talented rapper! Jay Gatzby from Komposit is also working heavy with major artists like us to develop the right foundation to nourish the desi music scene to the fullest and Bad Karma NYC, a clothing company that’s also geared towards making clothing that represents the new generation of desis! You’ll definitely see us rockin’ some of their gear!
The main song which is being pushed is ‘2Step Bhangra’ for someone who likes there hardcore Bhangra beats this song grew on me! How has the response been for you guys on this song & the album in general?
Master D: We’ve got an amazing response. The compliments just keep coming in. To give you an idea this song is the most requested song on Top40 stations in Canada. We were on Halifax’s TOP 7@7. At Toronto’s Z103.5 FM also an English mainstream Top 40 station, 2 Step Bhangra enjoyed the # 6 spot for almost 3 weeks with Justin Timberlake in at # 7 on their TOP 7@7. Now we are at # 4. In addition we have Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal, Kitchener, and Vancouver all on the single.
We keep getting comments from everyone who’s listened to the album that it was worth every penny! Now that’s what we call Customer Satisfaction. People work hard for their money and at the end of the day when they go to treat themselves in celebration of whatever it may be we feel good knowing that we were able to deliver to them quality and then some.
We are really happy with the response. BestBuy car audio shops in Toronto are now using the song as a “audio test” for car sound systems and Gym teachers using it for their aerobics class! So for all you people out there who have not yet gifted yourselves this great album… go out there and purchase the original BILZ Album in stores all across the U.K in support of quality and for the future of the desi music industry.
R&B Vocalist Kashif appears quite frequently on your album, there’s been talk of collaboration between him and a few Envy producers, how do you rate him against others in the industry?
Master D: Kashif is an artist that is fully loaded and ready to explode…We won’t consider him a vocalist because he writes hits and he’s not just a singer but a great songwriter, dancer and performer. When he comes out… it’s gonna be something new and fresh for the Desi and non
Desis alike to see. Kashif is a spectacle you can not afford to miss out on! And as for collaborations, there could be a Zeus track but nothing is official, we are open so check out his myspace for more info www.myspace.com/kashifonline
Do you have any plans to work on any projects for vocalists? A Kashif album maybe?
Master D: Definitely… that has been our main goal since the start. We are starting to get offers but we have a timeline and focus on how we want things to work for all our releases. We plan to hopefully have some major appearances and budgets for his album so he can “make it rain” on his solo album. Kashif’s album is already half way through and we’re already working on the 2nd BILZ Album, and a Master-D album too!
How important do you think it is for any new up and coming producers to first learn there trade? i.e. get classically trained, learn instruments etc.
Master-D: Whether new or not it is a very important factor. I mean I’ve said this before and I can’t stress on it enough that every composer/producer should know his game. Classical be it in any form is the fundamentals of all music. And I find that Indian Classical especially is an asset because it has such a vast vocabulary. It helps you fuse music seamlessly…
Vicious: for the business side of things, you definitely need to know your game right. If you’re trying to do this business as a career there are so many sharks. I’ve come across producers who’ve signed deals with a label and their stuff still hasn’t come out! It’s a pity only because they never read the “perpetuity” clauses! But you need to have the feel and love for music to actually make hits that collect royalty checks or stay internet bedroom joints!
The video to your track ‘2Step Bhangra’, which is currently in the video section (Click Here), is probably one of the best videos I’ve seen this year. How important do you think it is for an artist to have a half decent video to promote there music?
Master D: First thing Sukh, we would really like to thank you for the love and appreciation of our video. It means a lot to us for you to notice the quality we put in making that video. As for artists, we think it’s extremely important to put out quality videos, only because music is entertainment. And if you’re trying to send a message that you are serious about your work, then you put the effort in making a half decent video. It’s like half of the videos that are out now in the desi scene are comparable to videos that used to come out in the 80s! It’s cheap, but back then they didn’t have the technology. Some labels cut back on the video factor, but as an artist point it’s the selling factor for that artist’s work. Proper and quality videos sell records along with the right promotion and marketing plan of course. If you want majors to take our industry seriously, then we need to step our game up! Watch out for the 2nd video it’s coming soon! Gonna be hot!
As still quite relatively new to the industry, how hard was it to get the big break and pursue labels into signing you as artists? After speaking to numerous upcoming artists myself, they all give me the same answer that most labels aren’t willing to invest in new talent. Is this a problem you suffered?
Master D: Well we already had a good following from back in our Indian remix days and everyone knew us but couldn’t really put a face to the product. Our remixes were the most bootlegged by “fake” DJs who used to put it out on their compilations and all that only surfaced from fans after they really knew who DJ Vicious & Master-D are now! But as a new artist, it’s really tough these days only because there are way too many artists and producers, in addition to all the other small owned independent labels. So the demand is bigger than the actual supply and it makes it tougher for labels to decide who’s worth investing in. It’s just normal from an industry point, but for artists that are good in the scene just don’t get the recognition because there are too many “fake” artists that flood the industry. So in reality, it’s through industry contacts, determination and consistency that you will prove to labels to sign you. Yes we did suffer a bit of the “non-Bilz-believers” but we managed to continue moving forward without making that an obstacle and with due time you will get your shine! We are down to earth people and we always evaluate every move we do. Labels liked that about us and we constantly deliver so that’s very important in this fast pace industry. We’ve done so much on an independent level and learnt the business well to even be able to select who and how we want to work with our releases. I mean too many artists want to be “overnight celebrities” but in our industry it’s going to take more than that and you have to bring a new edge but in the same time be commercially viable to sell! So for THE BILZ, right now we here to make an impact and want to deliver to our fans!
So the flavour of the month in the desi music industry is collaborations, if you had the chance to collaborate with one artist past or present, who would it be?
Master D: Well if it was for the bhangra industry we’d love to work with Jazzy-B, Shinda or Shin from DCS. In the Urban scene there are a lot from Nelly to Justin Timberlake, and would definitely like to see how we can work a Dr.Zeus collaboration, but its only a matter of time for us to hustle that. We are proud for where we are now but we are constantly on the grind so keep checking our website www.thebilz.com or our myspace at myspace.com/thebilz to find out what we are always up to! Remember, from Booty to Bhajan!
Goodluck with the album, any final words for the readers of SimplyBhangra.com?
Yeah. We’d like to thank Simply Bhangra for all their love and support. Also thank you for understanding that we could not complete this interview sooner. Lol! I am sure you were informed by our Team at Bilz Music that it has been a crazy start to the New Year. We’ve been so occupied preparing for shows and stuff so we hope to be hitting stores, radios and venues in the U.K shortly with Kashif.
To all the Simply Bhangra readers and our Fans out there… we like to say Thank you for your past and continued support. We really appreciate it. We promise to continue to deliver quality and make a mark in the Mainstream Music Industry and represent MTL along with Desis worldwide! So go get that album. It’s available in all Desi shops across the U.K!
We'd link to give a big thanks to The Bilz for carrying out this interivew, remember you can purchase there debut album HERE