The Beat Goes On

Nihal’s love affair with music, handily compiled on a new CD 

Posted: 03.08.15

With a staggering 12 years working in mainstream radio, hosting a popular discussion programmme on BBC Asian Network, doing guest stints on numerous radio and TV shows, presenting his own television show, hosting live events, giving talks and DJing; Nihal is a role model for a generation: and proof that hard work, talent and being nice pays off. When we heard he was behind a new compilation released by Sony Music, (the first mainstream company to release an Asian CD on a major scale) we knew we’d be in for a treat. After all, this boy has taste so don’t even think about wasting time putting together a soundtrack to take on your summer holidays, he’s done all the hard work for you. The Asian Collection (released 31st October 2015) contains 54 tracks over 3 CDS of the best in Asian music over the last few years from chill-out to reggae vibes, to classic sing-alongs, Bollywood romances and dance floor beats…you won’t get bored, as Nihal explains…

It’s music for moods, served up like the perfect meal
I like to think of CD one as the green chilli based hits – they are spicy, will energise you and send a rush of blood to your head. CD two is the rice and dal, it’s the staples, with all the ingredients of a great song, there’s also the sweetness of Bollywood ballads, perfect for dessert. CD three comes after the hot chilli and rice…expect a serving of Turkish delight and Indian mithai before puffing away on your chill-out shisha.

Music is about emotion
I don’t speak Hindi or Punjabi. All of these songs were picked on the basis of how they make me feel: the energy, the melody and the songs. You have to believe in singers, I need to hear the pain, the anger; that’s the difference between the voice of a professional singer and a karaoke act. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan became a star around the world as people appreciated his soul, they were taken to different levels of ecstasy by his voice in the same way grown men and women leave the opera in tears because they’ve been moved by the sound, even though they don’t understand the language. I want people to pick this up and be taken by the hand into a beautiful new world of sound.

There’s a track for everyone
If you’re a six or seven year old you’ll love Mazor Lazer’s Lean On. When that’s on in the car my kids sing-a-long to every single word. If you’re a Punjabi, there’s been no bigger anthem for you in the last five years than Punjabi Hurrr by Bups Saggu. For bhangra fans there’s PNB (Aaj Me Peeni), still one of my favourite bhangra songs while Gun Gun Guna (by Ajay-Atul/Udit Narayan & Sunidhi Chauhan) is one of my favourite tunes. I recently played it on BBC London radio as one track from the album to listen to. I am border line obsessed with it, I wish someone would drop that track and melody in English. And if you fancy a snog try Teri Baaton by Raghav to wind and grind to. That will inevitably end up with a snog. If you’re not winding well enough it won’t – it will end up with you being booted off. But if you can wind and grind to the Murder She Wrote rhythm a snog is guaranteed!

I’ll never tire of ‘that’ Punjabi MC track
I’m old enough to remember the original and to recall David Hasselhoff playing Nightrider – Punjabi MC’s Beware of The Boys was a game changer in the Asian music scene. I first heard it when Tim Westwood and Trevor Nelson played it, they saw it was a way to please the Asian crowds their nights were attracting and when Asian guys heard their music in a black club there was a sense of pride and acceptance. When Jay-Z jumped on it, it became the most popular track of its time. Unfortunately it didn’t lead to more British Asian producers getting recognised but it’s a timeless track that will be known for generations.

The Asian Collection is in stores now or can be downloaded from Itunes and Amazon. Get a taste for the tunes here.

Interview: Momtaz Begum-Hossain

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