We, Tigerstyle, are 2 brothers, Raj & Pops from Glasgow and have been DJing and producing music since the late 90s.
Why the name Tigerstyle? Whats the meaning behind it?
Well the name Tigerstyle actually came from a radio show we used to present when we first got into DJing around 97-98. We are huge fans of WuTang Clan and had sampled one of their songs where they had a taken a dialogue sample from a Kung Fu movie. The sample is of “Tigerstyle” being repeated over and over.
We had used the sample to create an intro for our radio show. When we first created a demo tape of our production and played to Panjabi MC the B Side of the tape had a recording of our radio show on it and the tape was labelled “Tigerstyle”. PMC asked of that was gonna be the name of our production outfit and it just kind of stuck from there.
The name fits well with our image and sound because we come from the Sikh warrior tradition and our sound is also cutting edge and powerful.
Tell me how Tigerstyle began?
We started DJing parties in 1997 under a different name. We felt that at that time the DJs in Scotland were playing dated music and weren’t really mixing properly or presenting themselves in a good way. The desi club scene in Glasgow was also pretty much non existent apart from dodgy Day-timers that were starting to get a really bad name so we wanted to enter yhe scene and try to take the DJing and club nights to a new level.
After DJing and promoting club nights for a couple of years we felt a natural progression for us would be into production as we had both learnt tabla and sangeet from a young age. I was also already experimenting with making hip hop beats using really early midi sequencing software so it just took a little bit of guidance to really set us on the path to recording our first album.
You started back in 1997 Desi Bombsquad Sound to try and nurture Bhangra in the Scottish scene as you felt it lacked. What was the journey behind that?
We were at a wedding reception and the DJ was playing really old songs and wasn’t even aware a lot of the more current songs. We realised that we could quite easily enter the party circuit and surpass the DJ’s in our city in terms of mixing and presentation so we decided to buy some equipment and give it a go. From there we went on to DJ at a number of private functions and club nights and also promote our own club nights.
Have your families been supportive in regards to music? As you both have been brought up in a traditional Sikhi way and people say that music makes no money and there is no career do you agree?
Our parents were a little bit wary and concerned at first but once they saw we were serious and actually making a go of it they really showed a lot of support. We always tried to make sure the content of our songs wasn’t promoting bad habits that would go against our beliefs so we managed to strike a good balance between our own values and the music we make.
In terms of making money, its not an easy business area to be in. You need to be really driven and you need diversify in terms of your sound and the market areas you target in order to sustain a long career. We have been working full time as Tigerstyle for 17 years and have managed to sustain a good income by making music and also programming electronic music making workshops for young people funded by Creative Scotland. More recently we have also diversified into making music videos which is proving to be very enjoyable.
Nachna oda nai was a massive hit and still plays at parties and weddings. When you was producing it did you think back then it would be such a massive track? Especially when Signature used it on Britains Got Talent.
With our first album we had actually created a full version of “The Rising” that was a little too experimental for its time and when we played it to the label they advised that for our first release we should create something very commercial so that we can build a fan base and that we could do more experimental material later in our career. We then took inspiration from the way hip hop producers created beats from sampling old records and used those techniques to put together the final version of “The Rising”. Sukhi Chand then helped us mix the album and it went on to be a massive hit for us.
We never imagined Nachna Ondha Nei would be so huge. Its incredible that it still gets people moving 17 years after it was first released!
Have you ever faced any negativity with your music or via social media? As you both are very vocal about your opinions
We have had our fair share of negativity over the years but we have had far more positive responses from people than negative. Everywhere we go we meet people who love our music. They might not like everything we do but overall they see our vision and appreciate that we make music that is true to who we are.
My favourite track of yours that you produced is Kawan with Bikram Singh and Gunjan. What is your favourite track you have produced and a favourite song you haven’t produced?
We actually produced and sang a Dharmik Geet called “Gabru Punjab De” for one of the Immortal Shaheedi albums a few years ago. For me that has to be my favorite as it was a chance for us to express the passion we have for Sikhi through our music. The response we have had for that song has been amazing. So many Singhs tell us it is their Gym Anthem!
I really love listening to Yellow Claw and they have a number of amazing songs I would have loved to have been a part of.
Back in 2007 you performed at BBC introducing stage at Glastonbury Festival. How did that come about?
We were part of BBC Introducing that year and they asked us to perform on their stage at Glastonbury which was a great honour and a brilliant experience. Fun memories of people covered in mud and journey to and from the site with the crew as well as the performance itself.
You worked with Immortal Production on Shaheedi 400 how did this happen?
We actually had the track “Warcries” on our first album. That track contained samples of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindrawale talking on it and because of that we had contact from the Singhs behind the Immortal Shaheedi project.
We have tried to create material all of their projects but haven’t been able to more recently because of a lack of time due to other commitments.
You both when I watch your videos you are rarely in them you rather take a back seat. Which i admire as I believe you put the music first. What’s your reason?
To be honest we aren’t the type of people that are hungry for the limelight. We have confidence in our music and know that it speaks for itself. Also, we are both married men with young kids and both Sardars so it does not fit our persona or image to be in videos too much. Especially where there is a female model or dancers involved. For us the video should be a visual representation of the lyrics or the story within the song itself.
Who are your role models? For me I’m a massive fan of yours. I could write hundreds of questions for you!
In terms of role models I think there are many great Sikh warriors, Shaheeds and Mahapursh that provide a great deal of inspiration with the way they lived their lives. Musically i think someone like Timbaland and Missy Elliot are incredibly inspiring as they have always had a unique style that sets them apart from other artists within their genre while also being very experimental and progressive with their sound.
What do you think of the bhangra scene at the moment? In terms of mixes and artists. As i feel they don’t make music anymore like they used too when i used to listen to it back in the day. Its all about money and publicity.
A lot has changed about the scene since we started. Initially physical piracy was the issue. That has been replaced my online piracy. It used to be that talented people with musical ability released quality material and captured a strong fan base. Nowadays someone with zero musical ability can buy a ready made song from someone, shoot a video for it and pass it off as their own without the public really knowing any better. The UK scene is nowhere near as good as it used to be. India and North America are leading the way these days in terms of talent. The way the TV channels work as well means that someone with little talent but lots of money can make themselves look very successful. Its all a big money game. Artists only see money from bookings and PRS royalties so its not anywhere near as financially rewarding as it used to be.
Saying that, there are also a lot of positive things happening in terms of the music reaching a wider audience and collaborations developing within mainstream and bollywood.
You are hugely respected in the Music world. Your tracks are always hits. Your videos are always relatable. Why do you think that is?
We try very hard to make sure our videos relate to the lyrics of the song and are visualised in a creative and interesting way. Our early video didn’t have as much involvement from us in terms of content so we weren’t very happy with how they represented our music. More recently we have had much more input as to how the videos should look.
Whats both of yours biggest achievement?
Probably managing to sustain such a long career and also make time for our other halves and children.
Whats the biggest compliment you have received?
We often are told that our Dharmik songs have inspired someone to take more interest in Sikhi. For me there isn’t a better compliment.
Anyone who wants to get in the music world. What advise would you give?
Study your craft, perfect it and then put out material that is true to your own self. Work with people you trust and always be honest with your music and how you work with others
Whats next for Tigerstyle?
We have a number of songs lined up. We have been involved in Harbhajan Mann’s album which is due out soon and also have big songs coming with Jaz Dhami & Kanika Kapoor and also with Roshan Prince.
As many who do know me well, know how much of a huge fan of Tigerstyle I am. They are raw and original and when I hear a track playing I instantly know if it’s Tigerstyle. They have that concept that makes them so different from others. Tigerstyle make music you don’t hear much of anymore. Even their Live Vaisakhi Global Gathering Session I just love. The passion you can see. I have shared below one my favourite Live sessions. When I asked if they could be part of my blog they were so supportive and to me that says so much about their character. Show some love for Tigerstyle!