Q&A: Red Baraat’s Sunny Jain Talks to Knockdown Alley

Posted on Thursday July 16th in

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Talented composer and dhol (a double-sided, barrel-shaped North Indian drum) player Sunny Jain founded the energetic party-starters Red Baraat, a Bhangra band playing a shake-your-ass mix of Punjabi music, Latin beats, jazz, funk and go-go, in 2008. It’s what NPR calls “rollicking funk music steeped in Northern India’s wedding celebrations, with a dash of D.C. go-go beats and hip-hop.” The Brooklyn nine-piece released their acclaimed third album, Gaadi of Truth (stream it below), earlier this year. And prior to coming to Brooklyn Bowl London on 23/7, Sunny Jain answered some questions for Knockdown Alley.

You’re based in Brooklyn but have a world-music sound. So as you’re about to embark on a short European tour, do you find yourselves at home playing in other countries? We love bringing our music everywhere. It’s great to connect with our fans and make new ones and always interesting to see how our music is received in different parts of the world. Not to mention that we love traveling, meeting people, eating, drinking
and just generally experiencing life. Home feels like everywhere
because we enjoy what we do.

Having performed in London two years ago, what’s the best part of playing here? And what’s the toughest part of playing here? We love the UK and we love London because we always have a good time and our fans are awesome. It’s also great to play in country where there’s a large South Asian and Punjabi culture that instantly feels our music. London also happens to be the first place that called our music punk, which is pretty cool. The toughest part of playing in London is leaving London. Seriously, we wish we could play here more often.

Which London musician—past or present—would you most like to play with? There are really are so many that I can’t possibly limit this answer to one musician or band, and forgive me if I name English musicians not from London. On the top of my list and in no particular order, Nitin Sawhney, Radiohead, the Police, the Clash, Squarepusher, James Blake, Stereolab.

What music or song always makes you dance? Bhangra music or anything by James Brown or “September” by Earth Wind & Fire.

Do you have to be depressed to write a sad song? Do you have to be in love to write a love song? Is a song better when it really happened to you? In my opinion, yes, and that’s because I compose for the purpose of translating an emotion or an experience into sound.

You’re at your after-party and there’s an endless jukebox, which three songs do you choose to play first? Really depends what the scene of the after-party is, but let me paint the vibe I’m feeling with this selection:My Cherie Amour” by Stevie Wonder,The Big Payback” by James Brown and “Sumthin’ Sumthin’” by Maxwell. —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog

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