Pritam is an inspiration, says Steel Banglez
By Bryan Durham - July 26, 2019
UK-based rap producer Pahuldip Singh Sandhu — better known as Steel Banglez is quite in-demand at this moment. Going by recent reports, Bollywood is interested, too.
Starting out at four inspired by his mother, he began DJing at 11, was jailed at 17, served four years, got out and worked on his music.
He spoke to us recently about himself, his music, the kind of music he listens to, and his plans of visiting India.
Tell us how you got the name (Steel Banglez).
The fact that I’m a Sikh and I wear a kada, so it’s a representation of that. But the name came from my friend of Jamaican descent. And he named me Banglez because I used to have my kada on all the time. I just use steel because that’s the compound it’s made from.
A sport you’re actively interested in?
Cricket. I was just watching the World Cup. I wanted India to win, but they let me down.
You started DJing at the age of 10, producing in early teens. Did that give you a headstart and shape your sound?
DJing at a young age, watching my brothers DJing and doing the same at a young age, gave me a knowledge of matching beats and sounds together. It trained my ear as a DJ very young, paving the way to getting into producing young. Applying what I had learnt from DJing to producing made me get ahead, combining sounds and figuring what people react to.
For someone with British and Indian influences, which one closer defines your sound?
The British side.
Do you plan to tour India sometime soon?
Hopefully. I’ve been speaking to people. I know Badshah really well. Vivian ‘Divine’, too. Once I get some music with these guys, then maybe…
Between your parents, who has had an impact on your music.
My mother. My mother is the musical one.
One sound from the diverse UK diaspora that blows you away.
The African sounds. African beats, specially music from Nigeria and Ghana.
Who are the people who inspire you?
Dr Dre, Panjabi MC, Pritam, (the late) philosopher Alan Watts.
Your imprint Gifted Records (formerly Spiritual Records)
It’s a successful record label. All my songs have been released on Gifted Records and Warner Bros. It’s a joint venture. It has three hit records. It’s a representation of the gifted new generation to come out of the UK. In the years to come, it will harbour some of he greatest artists to come out of the country and I’ll be at the forefront of developing that. That’s what Gifted is.
The kind of artists you listen to, these days?
I listen to a lot of UK music at the moment. Just enjoying it. People like JHus, Mist, Nav (from Toronto), Sidhu Moosewala as well. He’s on my playlist when I travel.
Do you listen to Punjabi political poetry like your dad?
I’m more inclined to the work of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. I don’t really listen to too much Punjabi music otherwise, apart from Sidhu Moosewala.
Are you aware about the Bollywood scene.
I’ve been to India before, so yes. I listen to older music, though.
Advice you’d give to a budding producer?
Build your own studio wherever you can, whether it’s your bedroom, shed or garden or if you can afford to rent a place and find an artist that’s up-and-coming and just develop the artist and have a relationship with them and also, never stop studying and always focus on your craft. Don’t get distracted when you get to the first level of success.>