BBC Asian Network Live 2016

Round-up of the biggest music gig of the year & catch-up with Naughty Boy

Posted: 03.05.16

BBC Asian Network Live made its debut over the weekend and what a spectacular first impression was made. Held at the Eventim Apollo, the evening proved to be an entertainment extravaganza, with a celebrated line-up, representing a diverse range of Asian musical acts – perfect for the mix of backgrounds and ages amongst the brimming audience. There were so many memorable highlights, including Bollywood favourites Kanika Kapoor, along with Badshah and Aastha Gill all the way from India, who had everyone singing along, whilst Imran Khan pumped up the crowd with his hits Amplifier and Imaginary Girl. British heartthrobs Zack Knight performed his latest single with Jasmin Walia, and Arjun had all the girls swooning, especially with his signature fusion style cover of Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself.

Jaz Dhami got everyone changing lightbulbs, Bhangra style, whilst BBC Asian Network’s very own, much loved DJ’s and presenters got the crowd going, amidst each act. Perhaps the most epic moment of the night was when Punjabi Hit Squad encouraged a fun human train, to the classic Punjabi track Rail Gaddi, winding its way around the arena. Gotta love abit of old school Bhangra.

History was also made on the night, with some fantastically rare collaborations, including Zack Knight, Badshah and Fuse ODG, literally fusing Ghana and Bombay vibes in a catchy number. The grand finale was an unforgettable set by Naughty Boy, with Preeya Kalidas performing Get Lucky, a surprise appearance by Kanika Kapoor, sweetly serenading us with La La La, as well as a stunning demonstration of East meets West with traditional Kathak dancers moving to a tabla infused rendition of Beyonce and Naughty Boy’s Runnin’.

Just before his performance, we had a chat with the very humble and down to earth Naughty Boy, aka Shahid Khan. In authentic Naughty Boy fashion, ‘Shah’ as he likes to be called, was sporting tracksuit bottoms, a pair of trainers, with a black kurta on top, in an effort to fuse Eastern and Western vibes.

Does he get nervous before getting on stage? He revealed: ‘Not on the stage, not even just before, it’s always the bit in between. Really looking forward to it.’ Naughty Boy is one of a rare few British Asian artists who has managed to breakthrough into the mainstream industry, yet he still has time to represent the Asian scene and be a part of this gig: ‘I like the fact that it’s the first of it’s kind, although I feel like it should have happened by now anyway as BBC Asian Network has been running for a long time. It’s nice to be asked obviously and everyone in the line-up is successful. Everyone’s fans are here, so it’s good to be a part of something that although is Asian, is still pop music - it happens to be popular in the Asian culture. We’re trying to transcend all of that.’

He shared his excitement and enthusiasm for the night ahead: ‘Well I’ve never performed my songs in this fashion before, so expect some instruments that are not necessarily used, I might bring out some people I’ve not brought out on stage before. There will be a bit of a Bollywood theme as well, but why not, that’s what I grew up with. Gives me the opportunity to add abit of tabla to something or some kind of sitar to my existing songs that people know, but no one’s ever heard them like this.’

As a musical maestro, I had to ask him who he rates in the British Asian music scene, when he shows more love for Bollywood: ‘I just don’t follow it like I used to. I’m still a fan of Bollywood films, especially Yash Chopra ones. A couple of weeks ago, I had a FaceTime call from A R Rahman, hopefully I’ll be doing some kind of collaboration with him in India. Been speaking to Rahat Fateh Ali Khan as well, and will hopefully do something with him for Emeli’s next album. I just need someone to really excite me, especially from the British Asian scene or someone doing Asian influenced music. I don’t think anyone has ever made me feel like - damn I need to find this person, I need to sign this person! But it’s work in progress, and I’m not taking anything away from anyone.’ Former buddy Zayn Malik’s new album Mind Of Mine is making waves worldwide, so it’s only natural that we ask Naughty Boy about it: ‘To be honest, I haven’t heard of it’. Awkward much! Well we had to ask, nevertheless. Zayn or no Zayn, Naughty Boy’s boundless talent speaks for itself.

Ever wondered where the name ‘Naughty Boy’ came from? I wonder if it’s because he’s abit of a badmash: ‘No I was never a badmash, I was quite the contrary! I was a good boy. This is like my alter ego, my Sasha Fierce.’ Speaking of Sasha Fierce, I ask him how it was working with the Queen B: ‘Amazing, I honestly never thought that by the end of last year, I’d get a phone call from Beyonce asking to work with me, but things happen and you just have to follow through and never expect anything in this business. When it happens, it just feels so much better.’ We look forward to his next big collaboration!

There is no doubt that the event was a huge success and superbly organised by the whole team – we hope this is the first of many.

More videos and interviews can be found here
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Fariha Sabir

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