by LAUREN CODLING
AWARD-WINNING record producer Naughty Boy has appealed to Eastern Eye readers to help him on a new Asian-inspired track for his hugely-anticipated new album, due out later this year.
The musician – whose real name is Shahid Khan – is due to release his latest record in December. The star, known for his music collaborations with a number of prominent stars including Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Emeli Sandé, is keen to incorporate more South Asian influence into his work.
Speaking to Eastern Eye, he said: “I’m working on my first Asian club record and I’m thinking about which Bollywood singer should feature on it. If any Eastern Eye readers have any ideas about who they’d like to see on a Naughty Boy Asian song, then feel free to make some suggestions.”
This will not be the first time that South Asia has an influence of Naughty Boy’s music, however. Previously, Pakistani musician Rahat Fateh Ali Khan featured on his 2018 release Bungee Jumpin’.
“Bungee Jumpin’ had an east meets west vibe, with Asian and English lyrics,” the British-Pakistani star explained. “But for my new album, I want (a song) to be entirely in Urdu and Hindi.
“It’s the last song I need to complete (for the album) and I’m so excited for it.”
Ahead of the album release, Naughty Boy has plans to release two singles this summer. The two tracks will feature UK rappers Jaykae, Mist and American singer Harloe. Although the vocals were recorded prior to lockdown, Naughty Boy has been working hard to get the songs finished.
He has a studio set up in a shed, installed in his front garden at his London home.
Asked if it was challenging making music during lockdown, Naughty Boy admitted it was initially. His mother Zahida suffers with vascular dementia and lives with her musician son, so that he is able to take care of her. A live-in carer also resides with the pair, so that his mother has additional support.
“Recording music began as a challenge as I would literally be jumping back inside the house if my mum needed anything,” he explained. “But gradually I worked out that it is all about routine, especially with dementia.
“The more routine that that my mum has, such as a routine for her meal times, the easier it made it for me to work on my music without being distracted.”
Since his mother’s diagnosis in 2018, Naughty Boy has become an ambassador for Dementia UK. The charity helps to provide support for families affected by dementia, a condition which can affect a person’s memory, language and other thinking abilities.
He revealed he has reached out to the charity since lockdown began in March, as his mother’s condition has progressively worsened.
When the Covid-19 crisis broke, he made the decision not to tell his mother about the pandemic as he did not want her to become panicked or distressed. However, after a routine visit to the doctor, she realised that “something was going on”.
“The doctor’s surgery was empty, when usually it is busy and she had to wear a mask and gloves,” he recalled. “So we had to tell her and we had to reassure her that we were fine. But those weeks after, I noticed a slight shift in her dementia and I was concerned it was because she was worried about the virus.”
Naughty Boy reached out to the Dementia UK helpline and spoke to some nurses for assistance. He admitted it was the “best decision” he could have made.
“I thought they might be too busy or there would be more important people that needed help but that was the best decision I made in terms of understanding more about what Mum is going through,” he explained. “Hearing other stories has made me feel like my family and I are not alone in dealing with this.”
Last month, the charity launched their latest campaign called Lives On Hold, which aimed to raise awareness of the challenges that dementia carers face.
The cause is especially close to Naughty Boy’s heart, and he said he could empathise with families who are caring for a loved one during lockdown.
“For most people with anyone ill in the family, whether they live with them or not, it has been the most testing time that I can remember since my mum has been living with me,” he admitted.
Although it can be upsetting to see his mum unwell, Naughty Boy has used music as a positive outlet. When his mother is having a bad day, he plays music which she will recognise.
“I would play Bollywood songs to Mum from her wedding, songs that define her youth when she was growing up,” he said. “It would immediately spark a smile in my mum and she would start singing.”
She also recognises his music and has a particular fondness for La La La, which was Naughty Boy’s first number one single in the UK.
“I use music to raise my mum up,” he said. “I think music is much more powerful than we realise.”