Tigerstyle who bring out versatility through their music, talk about their audience, collaborations and much more in an Exclusive Interview with Kulwinder Kaur Kainth!
They started their music career in 1997 when as DJs they created Desi Bombsquad Sound System with the intent of nurturing the bhangra scene in Scotland as they felt it lagged behind the English bhangra scene.
Hey hope you are well!
Start off for people who may not know.. Tigerstyle a very interesting name, how did it emerge?
The name is a Wu-Tang Clan reference. We were huge fans of late 90s hip-hop while growing up.
You started your journey in music at a young age of 10 & 11. Did you know this was what you wanted to pursue?
We started out learning classical tabla from our Ustad, Vijay Kangutkar in the early years. We didn’t have a plan or actually pursue music as a career till a lot later on.
So tell us in a timeframe of what Tigerstyle did from working in the bedroom, to becoming roadside dj's etc.?
We were mixing up Punjabi folk records with hip hop and drum n bass instrumentals in the late 90s. Panjabi MC and Bally Sagoo were at the top of the Bhangra game back then and their work had a huge influence on us in those years.
From creating remixes, we started to DJ out at parties, where seeing crowd reactions to our mixing inspired us to delve further into music production.
How did your family take you guys working in the music industry?
To begin with family were sceptical as you can imagine. We were both studying at Uni at the same time so we didn’t have much family pressure as we were still pursuing our academic goals.
Once studies were complete, luckily our first few projects (The Rising, Extended Play and Virsa albums) were well received within the market, and so the music work got busier, and with struggle and dedication we made it our career.
What makes Tigerstyle stand out from the rest?
We have a unique take on how we put sounds together. Our influences are somewhat different to other Punjabi music producers and so the material has a unique signature sound, which our fans relate to.
So who does what?
Raj has a degree in Commercial Music and has a huge knowledge of the technical side of music production, recording, programming, mixing, mastering etc.
I (Pops) focus on the lyrics, composition, arrangements, playing various instruments, liaising with artists, promoters, record companies, project partners and the general running of the business.
We obviously create the music together, so deciding on what we want to create, composing, recording; through to finishing the product and performing, it’s all a collective effort really.
What are we expecting from you?
We are celebrating our 15th year in the industry this year; our back catalogue speaks for itself.
What you can expect is for us to stay consistent, keep pushing boundaries and creating music which people all around the world can enjoy.
Who would you say is your competition right now?
We don’t feel we have competition, our sound is very unique and we feel every major producer who has stood the test of time has created their own signature sound and are still strong within the industry.
These amateur wedding DJ / wannabe producers work within a very limited scope, and come and go very quickly within the market.
What's the worst criticism you've had?
While we were working on DIGI-BHANG we were getting some feedback that we had gone too far from the Desi sound which people loved.
As creative and progressive musicians we were pushing ourselves to create something new, and the fact that the album went to No1 on the iTunes World Albums Chart in the UK, and singles were reaching high in the charts on release, proves we have a strong dedicated following.
The Scottish Government awarded the Digi-Bhang LIVE show, and the album has now been picked up for sync in the States, so there definitely is a market there for the experimental side of what we do.
A part from the glamorous side of being in the music scene, what are the negative experiences you've had to go through?
We don’t actually find much negative about what we do as music is a passion and we feel it is a gift to be working in a field you actually enjoy.
Sometimes the travelling does take its toll on us, as we have young families so its hard to manage family life with so much travelling, and the hours spent sitting on planes, or stressing over visa applications etc does get boring.
What's the best compliment you've received about your work?
As I mentioned earlier, a large amount of our independent catalogue has been picked up by a major TV and Film production house in the States for sync, and the feedback we've had from them is that the sound is unique and could possibly fit in various scenarios.
This, and the fact that our skills have been utilised by the top Music Directors in the Bollywood industry is a HUGE compliment as is the undying support from fans that have been with us for year.
You just recently collaborated with Kulwinder Billa & Ranjit Bawa two talented singers who are very big in India at the moment. How did you arrange to do this with them?
It all actually started when we hooked up with lyricist Preet Kanwal. We started to create song demos and discuss them with various artists we felt would compliment the project.
The first song we worked on was Att Goriye, which we had Preet Harpal vocal, and then Hard Kaur dubbed her rap feature. While this song was being discussed for release we touched base with Ranjit Bawa with a demo for Swag Jatt Da.
Att Goriye was released in October 2014 and gained huge popularity. Bawa then decided he wanted to launch his upcoming album Mitti Da Bawa with our production Swag Jatt Da, and while I was out in Punjab finalising that deal
We let the company hear a demo of Chakkwein Suit, which at the time was recorded with my own vocals. Days later we approached Kulwinder Billa and had him record his vocals to complete that project.
Both Swag Jatt Da and Chakkwein Suit are being very well received, and have lead to various major Punjabi artists approach us, such as Ravinder Grewal ji and Harbhajan Mann ji.
Considering how music has evolved over the years, what do you still see is continuing today that you grew up with?
The sounds change over the years as new trends come and go, but quality lyrics, compositions and music which connect you with your culture and fanbase while embodying and representing the time period or environment when that piece was created remains.
Words, phrases, sounds, textures, appearances change, but the essence of that creativity should still shine through. This has been the case for all great artists.
Social networking is the ways forward to advertise and promote what you do. How much do you rely on it?
Social networking is huge for us. It’s our way of staying connected with the world. Considering our major market is India and our fans are spread all across the world.
We sit in a relatively humble production studio in Scotland and create music, which reaches around the globe.
Social networks also give us an opportunity to connect with music lovers and musicians who were not already in contact with before or from out with our genre.
What's a average day like for Tigerstyle?
After helping getting the kids ready for the day, we hit the studio where we priorities our work to get results. We try maintaining a 9-5 schedule aside from teaching projects, travelling and performances, which usually break our regular flow.
Your views on ghost production?
This subject has got boring now. Music speaks for itself. Ghost productions are easily identified and have a very short shelf life.
Views on clean music and videos?
Our view is that the music should be in relation to the environment and fan base considering that we grew up listening to Hip Hop music, if it relates to the people who listen to it, then its fine with us.
Freedom of speech ... Music is an expression … It should be without limit etc.
But when songs which are degrading to a particular group of people, or videos which are not suitable for viewing during daytime or are targeted to a community which are not accepting of what’s being portrayed, then there is a problem.
Do you feel you are more appreciated for your music in England than in Scotland?
We are actually more appreciated in India and North America than anywhere else according to our social networks. We also find that non-Asian audiences across Europe to be hugely receptive when we perform at music festivals.
You had a time where you were just remixing and not producing albums. A lot of your fans thought right this is what Tigerstyle are going to do from now on.
This industry is changing very very fast, not many artists are even producing albums now. We had legal issues and so were had to step aside from our flow of producing albums to work outwith the Punjabi music industry.
But this gave us a huge opportunity to learn about the business and diversify our sound. Just listen to the different between the work in one period you have The Rising, Extended Play and Virsa and then you have Mystics, Martyrs & Maharajas, and Digi-Bhang.
Message to the Readers of Simply Bhangra?
Stay tuned, we got plenty more to come!!! Thank you to SimplyBhangra for supporting us always and you can all follow us on:
Thank you and all the best
Interview done by Kulwinder Kaur Kainth