Interview with Rishi Rich
Rishi Rich Interview
Here is text of an interview I did with Rishi Rich awhile back. A diferent version of this article appears in Mantram Magazine.
It is almost unheard of for most South Asian producers to have access to such mainstream artists like Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, Craig David, and Ricky Martin. Unless of course your name is Rishi Rich, the British Asian music producer fronting the groundbreaking Rishi Rich Project.
The Project, comprised of Rich, Punjabi vocalist Juggy D, and R and B singer Jay Sean, released their debut single on Virgin Records this past September. Entitled “Dance with You (Nachna Tere Nal),” the up-tempo bhangra infused R and B track triumphantly entered the mainstream British charts in the twelfth spot. Its success not only proved that Asian sounds had staying power in the mainstream, it also solidified Rich’s place as one of the top Asian producers in the industry.
Even before the Project had been created, Rich was a producer of some repute, co-producing no less than ten Asian music albums before releasing his first solo album, “Simply Rich,” which debuted in October 2002 at no. 1 in the Asian pop charts, and remained in the top five for the next six months.
‘Simply Rich,” garnered a lot of attention both within the British Asian community, but also from mainstream artists as well. This attention led to the first of his “Desi Kulcha Mixes,” the label affixed to many of Rich’s mainstream remixes, for two of Craig David’s hit singles, “Rise and Fall,” and “Spanish.”
The success of Rich’s remixes for David led to other opportunities, including a remix for Latin heart-throb Ricky Martin, and also a Hindi-Hip-Hop (Hindi-Hop) remix of Mary J. Blige’s “Love at First Sight.” However, it was the “Desi Kulcha Mix” of Britney Spears’ first single from her newest album “In the Zone,” that caused people on both sides of the Atlantic to take notice of Rich’s remix and production skill. His remix for Spears’ “Me Against the Music,” features Madonna, and differs from the radio-edit, as the Desi version includes such extras as tumbi and dhol loops, an occasional background Indian vocal, and the typical “Hai, Hai” and “Balle, Balle” chants often found in traditional Bhangra songs. All this, while keeping Britney’s pop style intact.
With all these achievements in the scope of 12 months, 2003 has indeed been a watershed year for Rishi Rich. Interestingly enough however with all the interest in South Asian sounds, 2004 has the potential to be an even better one.
And here is the text of the interview with Rishi Rich:
SG: Who are some of your musical influences, (both Indian and non-Indian)?
RR: I’m heavily into western artists & producers like Stevie Wonder, MJ [Michael Jackson], Teddy Riley, Timbaland & The Neptunes etc.. Plus RD Burman & Adnam Sami.
SG: What do you make of all the interest in Asian Sounds these past couple of years, and what/who do you attribute it to? Do you think it is here to last or just a fad?
RR: I think its very healthy for the scene but we just have to ensure we keep the quality high. I don’t know how long the mainstream will have an interest in bhangra but the point is there will be a few artists who launch a career off the back of the genre & when the commercial interest fades as these things tend to do, the artists will be judged on their talent alone, & if we're good enough, the talent will stick around, if not then we wont.
SG: Who do you want to work with next? Any chance Raje Shwari [The Female Indian-American voice on many American Hip-Hop Tracks] will join 2point9 productions, now that she has left Timbaland’s Camp?
RR: I’m not sure about Raje, she’s wicked but whether West London is best suited to her you’ll have to ask her. It’d be great to have her on board. I’m looking forward to completing Jay Sean & Juggy D’s solo albums. These 2 guys are up & coming Asian artists who have a lot of potential not just within the Asian market but beyond especially Jay. I’m also working on my own album which will be released under the Rishi Rich Project which will showcase new artists & some established ones.
SG: Can you talk a little about 2point9 productions, what inspired you to do this, and where do you want to take it?
RR: 2Point9 Productions is actually part of TwoPointNine Limited my mgmt company, & is owned by Billy Grant & Rob Stuart (www.2point9.com). Myself, Jay Sean & Juggy D are signed to 2Point9 Productions/Mgmt and those 2 guys are a heavy influence in all our careers. They’ve allowed us all the creative freedom which we need and have provided in-valuable advice over our past 2 years together. Doh Point Noh Productions, as we are known the Asian industry, looks out for creative talent breaking through from the Asian community whether it be a producer, DJ, Radio Presenter, singer, rapper or poet, its all about creativity at the end of the day & all of us are committed to building upon the brand.
SG: How did you get hooked up with musicians like Britney Spears, and have you heard any feedback from any of the artist?
RR: My mgmt 2Point9 hooked up with Britney's A&R in the U.S., a guy called Steve Lunt, he was really feeling some of my beats and gave me a shot at the tune. Britney was also well into the vibe & when I met her she was cool.
SG: What CD’s do you have in your CD player right now?
RR: I’ve got a Jay Sean track I’m checking the production on at the moment.
SG: What is next for Rishi Rich?
RR: More writing & producing for quality artists hopefully, & finishing my 2nd album.
For more information on Rishi, Juggy D, Jay Sean, or 2 point 9 productions, point your web browser to http://www.2point9.com.
Also, make sure you check out Mantram Magazine and The Satya Circle (which I can promise will be updated shortly--and don't worry, this blog will have the press release when it does) for more reviews, interviews,--the upcoming Satya Circle will have one with DJ Cheb i Sabbah--, and other opinion pieces.