music
Sax Appeal

Meet cool kat Trav saXingh

Posted: 03.12.12

Hang on a minute…an Asian who plays Jazz?
It’s not that strange! It’s just very few Asian kids get the opportunity to learn a jazz instrument where as my dad pushed my brother and I when we were at school. My dad has a love of all music, and although he never had the opportunity to learn an instrument himself, he encouraged us both to learn and enrolled us into weekend music school too, though he never expected either of us to go professional.  I guess its because it's not really seen as a stable profession, similar to most professional artists I guess! My brother is a fantastic trombone player, percussionist and drummer, though now he's now a fully qualified Architect - if you're lucky, you even can catch us performing a rare duet at the occasional wedding or two!

Oh dear. Are we too old to take up an instrument?
It’s best to learn while you’re young. I think the average age of taking up an instrument is around nine as kids have more self-belief, they can learn things quicker and are better at co-ordination…but don’t let that stop you. It’s NEVER too late to learn. Just pick up and instrument and try it out! Oh, and find a good teacher!

So why the sax?
I originally played the recorder which made the transition to saxophone easy as it’s the same finger positioning. My dad recommended the trombone but it was the sax all the way for me! I guess TrumpetSingh doesn't really have the same ring to it! I’ve now been playing for 15 years. I performed in school bands, toured with orchestras and now play all over the world in some of the biggest and best clubs and venues as well as more private intimate gigs like weddings.

Impressive stuff. Tell us more!
Growing up, I loved the whole soul and funk scene, and when asked during the weekly Jazz Band sessions whether I  wanted to join a Blues Brothers style band at Edinburgh University, I jumped at the opportunity! This was the first time I experienced playing to a packed dance floor, it was so different to the formality of the concert halls I was used to. The group was called The Big Henry’s Soul Cats, there were 14 of us in the outfit. We all wore suits and had three amazing  female vocalists, people would go wild for us! I realised then there was a whole audience out there who would love my sound.

Your ‘sound’ eh? Ok, sell it to us!
I describe it as contemporary funky soul. It’s not trad jazz; more like cutting edge pop, something many people can really relate to. I do not claim to be a technically trained traditional jazz player; I love to improvise to a whole spectrum of music, whether it be Bollywood, Funk, Soul, Hip Hop, Disco, Chillout or Bhangra!

You blew us away when you performed at our Asiana Bachelors event and we noticed you love getting nice up close and personal with the audience…
People just got for it! I’ve never liked having a physical barrier between me and the listener, but my performance style has happened naturally; people hear the music and they get attracted to it! It’s great for me as I get to see how people react and can adjust accordingly to fit the mood. I’m relatively shy and I wouldn’t normally approach as many people but the music gives me confidence - give me the sax and I'm in my element. I’ve developed an ear so that I can play anything and improvise, I don’t need music in front of me, I can play anywhere, including the dancefloor!

You also look so dapper too!
I’ve fine-tuned the image over the years! You’ll usually find me suited and booted though I also have a thing for checkered pants. I’ve lived in Scotland for 14 years so maybe that’s why? I also wear a hat, it’s like my turban, my unique identity, I feel naked without it when I play. I actually lost the one I wore for years at Watford Junction Station recently so my current one is a temporary hat until I find another perfectly fitted woollen one.

You’re taking jazz to new audiences – how important is that to you?
Really important! It’s great to be an Asian guy associated with new music. I just hope I can attract more Asians to come and see live jazz. It’s a major family outing when people go and see the big Bollywood concerts like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, I want people to realise they are welcome at small gigs too. But it’s not just Asians who I’ve introduced jazz too. I’ve toured the world with major DJs on the international club circuit with big names like Groove Armada, and am an official saxophonist for Hed Kandi. The club scene is another world, but amazing!

We hear there’s also a mini saXingh on the scene?
Yes! I have a beautiful daughter called Sanaya who’s 11 months old. I’ve become a proper domestic god! I look after her half the week while my wife goes to work, then I’m out playing in the evenings. She’s definitely a daddy’s girl and has developed an ear for music. She loves banging her hands on pots and pans and bashing the keys on my old keyboard…watch this space!

Ok, we think we know enough about you now, how can we see you for ourselves?
I travel the whole of the UK, the world!, to perform, though I have residencies in Edinburgh at a club called Opal Lounge and one in Aberdeen at the Nox Club - both amazing venues, but you can book me for weddings and private parties.
I’m also currently working with SonnyJi who used to work on BBC Asian Network,  taking his unique mix of Bhangra and house and turning it into a full on live show. We are currently working on some productions in the studio together so look out for saXingh's debut collaboration being released in the near future! If you like High Heels by Jaz Dhami and Saxo-Beat, you'll love this even more…

Follow him on Facebook.

To book him at your event: email ush@saXingh.com or call her on 07972 355 385.

Images by Big Day Photography

Interview by Momtaz Begum-Hossain

 

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