by ASJAD NAZIR
MANCHESTER COLLECTIVE ARE MAKING NOISE WITH THEIR HIGH-ENERGY LIVE SHOWS
LIVE bands once dominated British Asian music and laid the foundation for the industry as we know it today, before slowly disappearing off the scene.
Now a new wave of talented bands is bringing the era of live music back, including cool collective Brotherhood. The Manchester-based group has gained a reputation as one of the finest acts on the UK scene and have big plans. Eastern Eye caught up with Brotherhood to talk about music, performing live and more…
How did the band come together?
Dal: The band started off with a talented group of musicians in the Greater Manchester area just jamming together in the rehearsal studios. We’d been talking about having a jam for months (probably years). We finally decided to take that step and jammed on a regular basis. The music started to sound better each time and we decided to take the sessions out of the studio. The band was formed.
Tell us about the band and the music you play…
Shabz: The best way to describe our performance is high-energy bhangra music. The band is made up of musicians who have a massive love for all the legends who put the UK sound of bhangra on the global map. I’m talking about acts such as DCS, Alaap, The Safri Boyz, Malkit Singh, Apna Sangeet, Pardesi to name but a few. Looking back, we are proud these bands stemmed from the UK and had such a massive domination of the music scene. We hope to continue this in the new millennia.
How important is performing live to you all?
Sunny: It is very important to perform live. It brings out the best in people and is totally the best way to express our musical energy and skills as musicians. Go live or go home!
Dal: Any musician will agree and admit that the feeling of playing live on stage is unbeatable. It’s what you practice and rehearse for; to play live on stage in front of an audience. We all buzz off each other and we’re beginning to develop our own sound and vibe. All our music is 100 per cent live.
You were rewarded for your live efforts…
Shabz: One of the reasons we won the Best Newcomer at the UK Bhangra Awards was our work nationally as a fully live band. I cannot tell you enough the love and warmth our audiences showed us when we performed live across the country. The public really welcomed and appreciated our performance and rewarded the band with the public vote that led us to win the award. Most artists will agree that PA acts and mime artists will always be in the shadows of a live performing band.
Does it sadden you that there are far fewer live bands today?
Bobby: The saddening aspect is promoters and event organisers making it harder for live bands to get gigs by going for an easier option. It’s also sad for followers and spectators, as they are not getting a chance to experience the live scene, especially our young generation.
Vinny: It upsets me when I see the lack of live bands these days, as during my youth there were many live bhangra bands on the circuit up and down the country.
Sunny: It does sadden me as I believe audiences don’t get the same vibe from DJ or PA acts versus what a live band would provide. There is no energy, no feeling. No expression behind it.
Shabz: There is nothing better than to perform live or be entertained by a live band. There are some really exciting bands upcoming such as Team Elite, The Live Crew, Elegance Live Band and Generations LiveBand, who need the support from event organisers and promoters to keep them in the public eye.
Bobby: If you’re not convinced about live bands, just come to our next concert.
What is the masterplan for Brotherhood and what can we expect this year?
Bobby: This year is a challenge for Brotherhood as we must make a bigger impact than last year, which was great for us with many highlights. We hope to make a mark by way of releasing a single and promo video. I know we can achieve whatever we set our minds to with the awesome team we have.
Dal: If we can continue establishing ourselves as a reputable live band at more big events and start putting together some original music, that would be a great achievement in 2018. I personally would like for people to start booking live bands instead of DJs and PA acts. Live music is more enjoyable for everyone.
Which classic songs do you all enjoying performing live most?
Sunny: As a band, one of our favourite songs we love performing live must be Dupatta Tera Sat Rang Da by Surjit Bindrakhia.
Vinny: I agree.
Shabz: It must be Balle Balle by Pardesi Sound Machine and any DCS track!
Dal: Chan Mere Makhna by the Safri Boyz.
Bobby: Balle Balle by Pardesi.
What is the secret to a great live performance?
Vinny: The secret is the chemistry you have on stage with your fellow musicians. The audience will always sense this, which subsequently makes for a buzzing crowd who are enjoying themselves on the dance floor.
Shabz: What most people and organisers forget is the amount of time live bands spend perfecting their presence on stage. The secret does begin with practice, practice and practice. Combined with a love for your art, everyone’s persona is so important as the right mix creates a chemistry.
Do you have creative differences and how do you get around them?
Dal: Yes, we do! That’s a good and bad thing. It can sometimes take longer to decide on an arrangement of a track, but it’s good in the sense that someone will come up with an idea that you hadn’t thought of yourself. We’ll always try everyone’s idea and then move forward with whatever sounds the most appealing and enjoyable.
Sunny: Everyone in the band individually is very talented and creative in their own way. Everyone brings different ideas to the table and our secret is our friendship and brotherhood. We work together, listen to one another and collate different creative ideas into the Brotherhood sound!
Shabz: Creative differences are what makes our signature Brotherhood sound. That’s why any two live bands will never sound the same as they are a make-up of different people, musicianship and outlook. That is what makes live music beautiful.
Can you share a behind-the-scenes story…
Shabz: Since our inception in February 2017, we have been very lucky and working hard to make a mark on the live music scene. One behind the scenes story must be our reluctance and nervousness about entering the Punjabi Song Contest. Previously such contests were made up largely of PA acts and not only were we new, but no one had really heard of us. It was only at the last hour with the encouragement from organisers that we did enter and were soon delighted to see how much of an appetite the audience had for a new live band. Soon enough, a few more live bands surfaced and we haven’t looked back. Slowly I hope we will be looked upon as one of the key names that spearheaded new UK live bhangra bands.
What inspires you as a band?
Vijay: I’ve got to say the biggest inspiration is everyday people. Whenever we have ventured out, whether it’s been performing live or we are asking for people’s support, it always amazes me how much affection, love and encouragement we get through a wide section of people who support us. Supporters who regularly attend our events and champion our music; we couldn’t ask for more.
Dal: I think our inspiration comes from our love of music and our instruments. We’re all big fans of bhangra and Bollywood music, and fans of the biggest, most legendary bands.
Bobby: Some of us have a much deeper spiritual religious connection with music, which fuels our passion to pick up our instrument. Our sound is constantly improving and evolving. As we become more involved and inspired by each other’s ability, the music naturally sounds better and tighter, and we can start to improvise.
Who is the greatest band of all-time?
Brotherhood: We do love lots of amazing bands, but I guess our top ones who influence our live musical style are DCS, Safri Boyz, Malkit Singh, Heera, Pardesi and more recently Diljit Dosanjh!
Why do you all love music?
Shabz: Music has been the soundtrack of our lives. It is our companion and a shoulder to lean on. Music is our salvation, expression and what has defined us. Music brought us together for this feature. It is said what you do for love is always done well, so what’s not to love?
- Visit Facebook: @BrotherhoodUkBhangra for more.