AAJ magazine’s feature writer Bharathi Sandhu sat down to get an inside look at what’s important to Jazzy, and what pushes him to move forward in the ever evolving world of entertainment, and even got to reveal his motivations during the tough times, and what keeps him humble while he’s on top.
Bharathi: You just headlined the 2015 Surrey Fusion Festival. What was that experience like back in your home town?
Jazzy B: The experience of performing in front of a home crowd is always amazing, and then running into old friends I went to high school with who still remembered me was even better! I want to thank Councillor Tom Gill and the City of Surrey for the festival, and the home crowd that encouraged me.
Bharathi: With a career spanning over 20 years you keep providing your fans with one hit after another. After the success of Londono Patola, we were treated to the likes of Soorma, Naag, and now the very popular Mitran De Boot. What keeps you fresh and creative to keep pushing out one hit after another?
Jazzy B: The fans are the push. Thanks to social media it’s really easy to receive feedback, and I try my best to give them what they want. They wanted something more desi which led to the collaboration album with Sukhshinder Shinda for example. I try to stay with the time and remember what the fans want, and that keeps me fresh.
Bharathi: You’ve been happily married for several years.How has your wife supported you in your success? What role does she play?
Jazzy B: My wife plays a huge role! Without her I wouldn’t be able to move forward. She’s a great mother to my 2 kids. I always know that no matter what, they are safe if they are with her. A lot of times she plays a double role of mother and father, because I’m away a lot, that’s the nature of my job. She has my back no matter what, and gives me honest feedback.
Bharathi: Adding to your long list of awards on the music scene, a delayed yet huge congratulations on your 2014 Best Male Debut Film award for “Best of Luck”! What was it like to shoot your debut Punjabi film,“Best of Luck”, with Miss India Universe 2008, Miss Simran Mundi and Gippy Grewal? Can we look forward to seeing more Bollywood films?
Jazzy B: Gippy Grewal is a great friend of mine so the experience was great! The videos we shoot are very different from films, there’s no storyline and no script. Film was a very different experience, it wasn’t all about Jazzy that’s for sure! I’ve got a few scripts in the pipeline (for Punjabi movies), but I’m picky. I have to be happy to do a film as I’m not in a rush; it has to be quality work. Bollywood, why not? It’s all about the takeover! (Laughs)
Bharathi: You’ve definitely got a fun, unique sense of style. What is your inspiration?
Jazzy B: There’s a Punjabi saying which roughly translates to “Eat what you like, but dress the way society does”, but I don’t believe in that at all. I say believe in yourself. BJazzy clothing line is a reflection of my style. I like to experiment with clothes, and be different out of those hundreds of others out there.
Bharathi: What was your motivation when times were rough? What kept you focused and moving forward?
Jazzy B: I remember in 1997 I went through a really rough patch. I lost my voice and suffered from meningitis. All I could do was rest but I couldn’t because I had commitments. I cried myself to sleep at night. I had no backup plan, and no time for 6-8 months of downtime. I eventually had laser surgery in Canada, to help repair some of the damage to my vocal chords. I released “Folkal Attraction” after that. I prayed a lot, attended the temple, and reminded myself that He (God) can take it all away in a second so I must be humble.
Bharathi: What responsibility do you feel you have to society, considering you are a role model to many? Any words of wisdom to the youth of today, with all the negative influences around them?
Jazzy B: I definitely feel a responsibility to represent Surrey to the world because I’m from here. My songs have lyrics like “Surrey De Vich Galan Hundiyan” and “Sun Surrey Shehr Diye Kuriye Ni” to represent. I remember where I’m from and what my community did to build me. The gang and drug situation gives me a lot of sadness. It’s easy money. Kids always want more. My advice is don’t be greedy. Don’t lose your family connection. Kids, work hard. It all takes time but if you do it the right way you don’t always have to look over your shoulder. I have done all sorts of work. I picked berries, I worked as a framer. My humble request is to stay away (from gangs and drugs). Play sports! The real role models for kids are the parents so my request to parents is to spend time with your kids. Also, respect the language, that’s what’s going to get you far.
Bharathi: What inspired you to produce the religious/ dharmik albums? Do you identify strongly with Sikhism?
Jazzy B: I definitely identify with Sikhism. I always do “Ardaas”(formal Sikh prayer, asking for a blessing) before performances. I wanted to pay back to the community.
Bharathi: What would your advice be to new hopefuls in the Punjabi music industry?
Jazzy B: I’d say work hard. Don’t quit. It’s not easy. There are lots of one hit wonders, and it’s hard to stay on top. Legends like Gurdas Mann stay humble and that’s who I learn that from.
Bharathi: Outside of your own work, what is your favourite song?
Jazzy B: Kuldip Manak Ji’s “MaHundi Ae Ma”. It’s a message to respect your parents, they are the only people who truly have your back.
Bharathi: Who are your favourite up-and-coming artists?
Jazzy B: In England, I’m liking Jaz Dhami, he’s well trained and versatile. In BC I like Inder Kooner. He reminds me of myself when I was younger, and I think he’s going places.