• Friday, May 20, 2022

Arts and Culture

Rishi Rich: Memories and music mastery



GREAT BRITISH music hero Rishi Rich has blazed a trail and left a permanent mark with his impressive song-filled legacy.

The impressive journey that started during his teenage years in the 1990s has included globally successful hits, launching incredible talent, crossing new horizons, and inspiring a generation with his creativity. Achieving a lot on a global stage hasn’t lessened his passion for music, which means he is still giving a platform to new talent, running a record label, and creating top tracks that are being enjoyed by cross-cultural listeners around the world.

This was apparent with his stunning 2021 releases, including the EP 3 Chapters, explosive single Zakham, and recent release Over You, which features the vocal talents of Roach Killa and long-time collaborator Kiranee. That is because music has very much become a part of him.

Eastern Eye got great British icon Rishi Rich to take a trip down memory lane and tell us about his life in music.

My earliest musical memory is…I think the joyous family parties and everyone singing. Eventually, my cousin Amit (Mentor) and I starting to join in, with me on the Casio keyboard and Amit on the dholak. And this wonderful tradition lasted for years. Music was a part of every family party, and it was great.

The first music I remember buying…is still very clear in my memory. My mum took me to Southall Broadway. I was in ABC music, and I remember hearing the Johnny Zee (Taz) Hit The Deck album and that was my first ever purchase with my pocket money.

There are many musical memories connected to my childhood…and they were the beginning of my journey. One which has always stuck with me is getting my first Casio keyboard and then joining Khalsa college in Harrow and learning Indian classical music.

A song very much connected to a happy memory is…not just one. I have many songs, which make me happy but if I had to pick one then it would be Soul II Soul classic Back To Life. That song really reminds me of being in college, around family and great friends. Just good times.

A song connected to a sad memory is…probably End Of The Road by Boyz To Men. Reminds me of my first heartbreak!

The first song I composed was…with my friends from school, Dharmesh and Hema. It was a track called Jab Se Hua Tumse Pyar, which eventually we recorded for Don Dee’s album.

The first music release I was involved with was…when I worked with San-j Sanj on the album Extra Hot 7. I played keyboards on one track, and it was the first time I went to a recording studio.

My first album release will…always be special. It was an album called BombayJungle with Audiorec. It was alongside Pankaj and Don Dee, and under the name 2 Kool. It was a very surreal time hearing my music on tape and vinyl.

The experience of hearing my music on the radio for the first time…is such a beautiful memory. I remember catching the 182 bus in Harrow to Brent Cross to meet Raj Ghai and Pedro at Spectrum Radio. And I handed over my demo of a remix of Dheere Dheere Se from the movie em>Aashiqui and they played it. I will never forget that.

My breakthrough music release was…when I worked with Don Dee all those years ago and we did Nahin Jeena with a ‘new artist’ called Juggy D! That really set my benchmark because then I had found my sound.

Working on the hit Dance With You record with Jay Sean and Juggy D was…just amazing! The beat for Dance With You is one I had worked hard on. I remember playing it to Jay and he loved it and wanted to go away to write the lyrics for it. A few days later he had come up with a song called Stuck In The Middle, which eventually we changed to Dance With You and featured Juggy on it. It was amazing the way it came together.

Taking Asian music into the western mainstream…was a matter of great pride for us. Dance With You released and entered the national charts at number 12. Then we performed on Top Of The Pops, which was such a proud moment for us to have taken our culture through music to the mainstream.

I have been fortunate enough to do some great remixes and honestly…I enjoyed all of them. But if I pick one it would be the Britney Spears Me Against The Music remix. That was a real turning point in my career. However, also getting Craig David to sing in Punjabi on the track Spanish was epic!

I have always loved launching new talent…and that has never changed. From when I started working on music in the early days in the industry until now, I’ve always loved and still love helping new talent. I think, as a producer, that it’s my duty to launch talent, support them and see our industry grow. All the artists who I have launched or developed/mentored have all been special in their own right and space.

My first Bollywood song…made a huge impact. Dance With You got into a film called Boom, but the song which I actually consider as my first in Bollywood was Hum Tum with Veronica and Juggy D. It was a great experience working with Avtar Panesar from Yash Raj Films, and we didn’t realise the impact of the song until we eventually travelled to India for promotions. It was huge.

The experience of working in Bollywood is…the same as creating music anywhere else. For me, I approach working in the studio the same way wherever I am. When I was working in London or when I moved to Atlanta, and now living and working in my studio in Mumbai. Being here in India is and has been a very enjoyable experience. And I have met some great people with great vibes, and my mind and vision are expanding.

The experience of working on the unique soundtrack of hit movie Gully Boy…was great. When I was told about Gully Boy, the film, it was really exciting. Ankur Tiwari, the music supervisor of the film, came to see me and listened to all my music. He played it to (director) Zoya Akthar and I ended up doing two songs, Doori and Ek Hi Raasta. I had the opportunity of recording with Ranveer Singh and Divine in the studio. That was a wonderful experience.

An artist that has always inspired me is…Veronica. She is someone who has and keeps on inspiring me. We started together and her strength through being in the industry, and everything she has been through really inspires me.

A memorable musical encounter is…definitely meeting Gurdas Maan Ji. H Dhami took my mum and I to meet him, and it was such a beautiful experience.

What made me set up my new record label Break The Noise is…that it was a natural next step. I think that I reached the stage where I wanted to be in control of the music I release. And by running a label in London it was a no-brainer. So, alongside Kiranee and RDV, we set up Break the Noise Records in 2020 (during lockdown).

Musically, the future is…exciting. I have been working on some great new Netflix dramas where I am scoring the full series and also, of course, I’m also always working on new music for the label and developing new artists. We recently released a single called Over you featuring, Roach Killa and Kiranee. It was great to finally work with Roach after all these years. Great Vibes! We also recently released Gone (The Lost Remix), featuring Mumzy Stranger and Jagtar. There are great tracks on the way throughout 2022.

What does music mean to me…today? Music has been the closest thing to me. It’s something which I take very seriously, and have and will continue to give it my all.

Eastern Eye

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