By Asjad Nazir
DEADLY artist Roach Killa is launching an attack on the western mainstream with his latest single Go Down Low, which has been lighting up the airwaves and dance floors in the lead-up to its release.
The catchy Surinder Rattan-produced number has a heavy reggae flavour and shows off the range of a versatile vocalist at the very top of his game. The acclaimed song launches an exciting new chapter of a remarkable journey that has crossed continents, musical genres and styles. Eastern Eye caught up with the now UK-based Roach Killa for a free flowing conversation about music, his new song and future plans. As usual he didn’t hold back and spoke from the heart.
You are one of the hardest working artists out there. What keeps you so motivated?
When you love what you do it’s not work, it’s passion. I live and breathe music otherwise I feel incomplete. I don’t mind working 24 hours straight and then doing it all over again.
You do diverse musical projects. How do you select the ones to do?
I’m blessed with the fact that I grew up around so many different cultures, which allowed me to adapt to them naturally and that transitions into my music. For me music is a feeling and a force. When I hear a song or beat I know within the first 10 to 15 seconds if I connect to it or not.
You are one of the most versatile artists out there, but which genre or musical space do you like being in most?
I love all genres, but my first love is and always will be reggae. I was born in Libya and migrated to Canada at a young age and the area I grew up in had a big Caribbean population. So early in my life I got drawn to heavy basslines, melodies and a culture I fell in love with from the start. As time went on, I adapted to other genres of music that I enjoy doing very much. It’s about doing it to a high calibre and not making a mockery of it.
Tell us about your latest single Go Down Low?
Go Down Low is doing tremendous on the club circuit and currently sitting in the top 10 in the UK club urban charts in the same space as the likes of Drake, DJ Khaled and Chip, which is such a blessing. The song was produced by DJ Surinder Rattan, who smashed it. As soon as I heard the beat I went into the studio and literally 30 minutes later had the song done. It was a moment, a summer vibe and a happy club party joint for the masses that is already doing the rounds. The lyric video is out on YouTube, so do check it out. I’m looking forward to sharing the full video.
What has the response to the song been like so far?
It has been moving up the charts, getting great radio support and a wonderful response from those who have heard it. So really glad from the initial reaction. Hopefully people keep appreciating the song and it spreads like wildfire. It’s important for the community to support any artist trying break through into the mainstream as it’s a massive numbers game. While my fans and peeps in general may listen and support, it’s how you listen and buy online that’s important.
Tell us about the campaign connected to this that you are working on.
I am working with the British Phonographic Institute on Stand Up And Be Counted, which is basically meant to highlight to all music lovers and listeners that you don’t need to be illegal. Stand up and be counted by listening from a free streaming site or download from a legal site. If our community was able to do this we would probably have an Asian artist in the charts every month.
Who are you hoping connects to Go Down Low?
This is a feel good joint for everyone. Something to take you away from your daily stresses, make you dance to release that energy, just let go and enjoy. We only live once.
What was it like working with music producer Surinder Rattan?
Surinder is family. We have worked together and created hits for years. Anytime Surinder and I come together it’s magic. Like Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre, some things are special. Once again Surinder delivered a banger.
Tell us about the various mixes.
We have different mixes for all genres. We have a great Sam Supplier house mix. The DJ Shadow remix will rock the dance floors in clubs around the world. MEE2 (a young producer from London) has done a dancehall mix. There is a drum’n’bass mix by Silent Space and another by DJ Jinx, so we have many remixes for different genres. And it’s always fun to hear your vocals in different genres.
You are a composer yourself. Is it difficult to switch that side off when working with another producer?
I’m an artist first so when I’m working with other producers I do have an input, but I let them do what they are best at. I do like to do production though, and will definitely venture into that area more.
Can you tell a song will be special in the studio?
I thought I could. (Laughs) Sometimes we make a song and swear it’s a hit and people are like, erm it’s OK. Then you make a song and you’re like, it’s OK and the people think, “oh wow it’s amazing”. Overall you do know deep in your heart if a song will work, but it’s not for us to decide, it’s the public.
Tell us about the music video.
(Smiles) It’s a surprise. I wanted to do something different from my regular videos. It was definitely a fun packed environment and everyone had a great time, so that will transition on the screen. Hope you like it. Before my main performance music video, we have released a lyric video, which is the norm if you are trying to enter the mainstream market. It was interesting trying to come up with ideas. It’s already on YouTube if you haven’t seen it already.
You record killer dance tracks like Go Down Low, but how good a dancer are you?
(Laughs) If you saw me maybe 10 years ago, I was breakdancing at clubs and parties. But again, I’m an artist and will always be. I will definitely be doing some choreographed moves in the videos. I love to dance, but controlled.
What is the plan for the rest of the year?
Go Down Low is the first single followed up by two more. So it’s a full on attack. We need more Asian artists crossing over into the mainstream charts because we have a lot of talent that needs to be showcased. I’ve got a new song in upcoming Bollywood film Judwaa 2 starring Varun Dhawan produced by Meet Bros featuring Neha Kakkar and myself, so I’m excited about that. The last one we did, Main Tera Boyfriend from Raabta has more than 100 million hits, so I’m really excited about the next release.
What is your greatest unfulfilled ambition?
I would love to do acting and that’s one of the things I want to focus on eventually. We have done a film called Road, which comes out later this year and features a lot of artists/celebrities from the UK. It was an amazing experience working in it. Also I’m fluent in Punjabi, Urdu/Hindi so it would be interesting to tap into that market. (Laughs) I would love to play the villain, Roach Killer.
You are never shy about voicing your opinion and always give us a controversial quote. Do you want to get anything off your chest?
My mamma told me if you don’t have anything nice to say then just don’t say it.Sometimes being too vocal about your feelings could land you in hot water, so you’ve got to learn to balance it.
Do you have anything else you want to comment about?
Be original, be yourself, be a leader. Winners never quit and quitters never win.
What are your big passions away from work?
My family is most important to me. Sometimes work takes up so much time, but you have to take that time out to spend those precious moments and create memories with your loved ones.
Who in the music industry is the most fun to hang out with?
I keep myself to myself, it’s the best way sometimes. There are too many fake people out there. I keep my head down and focus on myself, trying to give the best that I can. You can count the number of real friends on one hand and still have a few fingers to spare. However, I really enjoyed hanging with Giggs and his peeps at the MADE Festival in Birmingham recently and then at the after show party. Now that was heavy and fun.
Why should we pick up the latest single?
(Laughs) You mean you haven’t picked it up yet? It’s a summer party banger, whether you’re getting ready to go out, driving to work, having a barbecue or dancing in a club. It’s for all occasions. It’s infectious and will make you go down low.
Do you have a final message?
I would like to thank everyone who has supported me from day one and given me so much love. Without you guys I wouldn’t have made it this far. For all the upcoming artists, believe in yourself, spend time on your craft and don’t let nobody tell you it’s not possible. Dreams do come true as long as you put your heart into it. One love