Q&A: Panjabi Hit Squad Talk to Knockdown Alley

Posted on Thursday August 13th in

As Panjabi Hit Squad, DJ-production team Rav and Dee have been one of the pioneering acts of the Desi Beats sound, deftly mixing urban music with Eastern beats. They host a popular radio show on the BBC Asian Network, bringing the biggest in hip-hop, Bollyhood, and Bhangra anthems to listeners. And with their own music, Panjabi Hit Squad get the party started in clubs, at parties, and on dance floors across the world. Which is exactly what you can expect on Saturday night at Brooklyn Bowl London. (And you can also expect an appearance by Raj & Pablo.) But before they arrive, Panjabi Hit Squad answered some questions for Knockdown Alley.

Your last album, World Famous, came out three years ago. Are you working on anything new these days? Wow, that seems like a long time ago, but our world-famous album featured some of the biggest collaborations ever with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. It doesn’t feel like it’s been three years, but something on that scale took ages to work on and was an absolute success for us. Now we are working on new music and the next big collaboration, which should be wrapped up over the next couple of months. Along with that we have some music coming out featuring some new talent in the industry, which is due for release at the end of August.

You’re the official after-party following A.R. Rahman’s show, but once yours ends, what will your after-party look like? And which one of you will be the last man standing? We would love to say that our after-parties are something P. Diddy would be proud of, but usually our after-party would involve good R&B music, some drinks, and great company.

As one of the pioneering acts behind the Desi Beats sound, how has its place in London’s music scene changed over the past few years? In the grand scheme of things, Desi Beats is still getting attention. The urban music scene in London is so strong at the moment it’s hard to compete, but the sound is still here and still strong. You hear the influences in music from Will.I.Am to Major Lazer.

And what changes have you noticed recently in London’s music scene altogether? Not only London, but the whole of the UK has
so much homegrown talent. It’s great that everyone is getting noticed
and pushing the music to the masses. From Skepta touring with Drake, Krept & Konan collaborating with so many US acts, and Tinie Tempah disturbing the world. These are examples that show the UK sound is massive. Hopefully labels take out time to help artists develop and make sure the culture stays alive.

Which bands that you listened to growing up do you still listen to? We have a pretty broad taste in music. Growing up it was always Michael Jackson, but going into the ’90s, rap, R&B and dancehall/reggae took over. Mary J. Blige, Notorious B.I.G., Snoop, and Dre were massive influences on our sound and growing up.

It’s your turn at the jukebox, which three songs would you choose first? MJ with “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough,” Yo Yo Honey Singh with “Yaar Na Mile,” and Panjabi Hit Squad with “Hai Hai.” —R. Zizmor | @Hand_Dog


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