Mona Singh is back with her third album Stronger, which will be releasing on the MovieBox label later this month. The latest album is featuring 10 Outstanding tracks produced by the legendary Channi Singh, the exceptional Rishi Rich, the talented Tejwant Kittu and the Mona herself. You have seen the Video promos and have to say yet again we can look forward to some good hits from this album! SimplyBhangra.com caught up with Mona to bring you this very exclusive interview!
1. For those few who are unaware of you give us all a low down.
Mona: I am the daughter of the legendary Channi Singh (lead singer of the Bhangra Band Alaap, known as Godfather and Pioneers of the British Asian Bhangra Music Scene).
I have released 2 Punjabi albums so far; ‘The Beginning’ (Akhiyaan Vich Yaar Vasda) and ‘The Second Chapter’ (Kankaan de Ohle). Both were released on the Moviebox label internationally and received world-wide acclaim.
I was awarded the Best Debutante Female Singer in India by a renowned panel of judges which included world famous Jagjit Singh, Anup Jalota, Anand Raaj Anand, Uttam Singh, Bhupinder Singh, Maitali Singh and Dev Kohli.
I featured on a mainstream single with Dizzie Rascal titled ‘Lucky Star’, produced by Basement Jaxx in November 2003. The song made it to the top 20 and I had the opportunity to perform live on Top of the Pops.
I am now releasing my new album ‘STRONGER’ which is out this month on the Moviebox Label.
2. You’ve been away for a few years, but you’re back to release your new album titled ‘Stronger’, what can we expect from the album.
Mona: It is what it says – Stronger. It has all the ingredients. There is something for everyone. All the songs have been co-produced and composed by my dad and myself with two songs produced by the very talented Rishi Rich and famous Punjabi music director from India, Tejwant Kittu. I have made 2 videos, one in Mumbai and another in Rajasthan which are currently being aired on the Asian music channels. Expect to hear tracks with quality music, lyrics and compositions.
3. The album name ‘Stronger’ is an interesting choice, do you see this album as more of a personal one to the albums before, and something that signifies your growth as an artist?
Mona: Most definitely, not only as an artist but as a person too. My experiences over the past few years have helped and taught me to become stronger. This album is very personal and significant to me and my experiences.
4. The West side of London has seen a new growth of talent in recent years, with Rishi Rich, Jay Sean, Juggy D and now H Dhami all coming through into the Asian music scene, whereas the midlands does seem to get a lot of credit, do you think the London scene is somewhat undervalued?
Mona: Yes – I don’t want to be political, but it is known that modern Bhangra started from London with my dad’s band Alaap, followed by many other bands from London and Midlands. There is, and always has been so much talent emerging from London. Unfortunately, however, credit is not always given where it is deserved.
5. On the topic of H Dhami, he recently stated to SimplyBhangra.com that his father Palvinder Dhami (Heera Group) was a great inspiration for him growing up as a kid on the live Bhangra scene. Is this much the same for you?
Mona: Of course. H Dhami and I are similar in that respect. Both our fathers are from bands that are icons of the Bhangra industry. They were responsible for creating the Bhangra scene in the UK at a time when this style of music was not recognised or followed.
My dad formed Alaap in 1978, to help bring back Asian youths to their roots so they could have their own identity. This opened the door for other bands to follow and created a craze. Today, Bhangra is played everywhere. I am so proud of my dad’s achievements. Not only in Bhangra, he was also the first UK based artist chosen to direct music for a Bollywood Film – Feroz Khan’s Yalgaar.
Alaap received Gold and Platinum awards for selling hundreds and thousands of units, at a time when the only medium that was used to promote albums was radio along with live performances. They didn’t have the benefit of videos and internet like today, yet they are known all over the world.
My dad and Alaap are known for their originality and excellent live performances. I have grown up watching them, and this has become embedded in me. I want to be known for the same reason and it is reflected from my first album to the present one.
6. Music on the album has been done by a number of people including you. Do you consider yourself as much of a musician as you do a singer?
Mona: I would say yes. I had musical training through school and college. I play the piano, keys and sitar. On my previous albums I played keys in some of the tracks, but in the new album, I have not only played but also co-composed the tracks and have had great input in producing the album.
7. The Asian music scene has seen a recent revival in the number of females working either as Dj’s or vocalists, from Miss Pooja to DJ Kayper, is this the best time to be a female in the Asian music scene?
Mona: I don’t think it makes a difference. Any time would be a good time. Its nice there is more female representation in a male dominated industry however, there should be more.
8. What advice would you give to those young female hopefuls who are trying to break into the music scene?
Mona: It looks glamorous but it is hard work. You need to be focused, dedicated and committed. Keep positive and don’t give up.
9. We understand that a new Alaap album is in the process of being made, could you see yourself possibly singing alongside your father?
Mona: That is definitely on the cards in the near future.
10. Both you and your father have performed at the Royal Albert Hall. That must have been a pretty daunting experience?
Mona: More exciting than daunting! I was quite young and sang alongside my dad and Alaap. I have been performing since the age of six and always felt comfortable on stage or performing in front of large audiences. It’s such a great feeling.
11. Thanks for taking time out for the interview, any final words for your fans and the readers of SimplyBhangra.com?
Mona: Thank you for your love and support. I hope to receive the same love, affection, encouragement and support in the future. STRONGER is out February 2008, buy the album and keep supporting great Punjabi music.