Swami (band)

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Swami
Swamijan2008.jpg
Swami Photoshoot Jan 2008
Background information
Origin Birmingham, England
Genres Pop, alternative hip hop, bhangra, rock, Ethnic Electronica
Years active 1998–present
Labels Nation Records (to 2004)
Envy/Roma Music (2004, Britain)
Sony BMG India (2005-2006, India)
EMI/Virgin (2007-)
Website www.swamimusic.com
www.myspace.com/swamimusic
Members Diamond "DJ Swami" Duggal (guitar, keys, decks) (1999- )
S-Endz (vocals) (2003 - )
Sups (vocals) (2005 - )
Liana (vocals) (2007 - )
Bobby Panesar (dhol) (2006 - )
Past members

Tarsame 'Speed' Jarnail (vocals) (1999 - 2000)
Kamaljit 'Kamo' Bura (percussion) (1999 - 2000)
Simon 'Subs' Duggal (drums and production) (1999 - 2000)
Baba Stormz (bass guitar) (2005 - 2006)
Rocky Singh (drums) (2005 - 2006)

Jagz (vocals) (2004-2005)
MC Sarpanch (vocals) (2004-2005)

Swami are a critically acclaimed [1] British Indian pop/alt/bhangra band from Birmingham, England. It is also the pseudonym of the band's lead performer, producer, DJ and guitarist Diamond Duggal (aka DJ Swami), who founded the band with his brother Simon Duggal. Though 'Swami' traditionally refers to a Hindu monk, the name is an abbreviation of the English phrase 'So Who Am I?'. The band has made it clear through interviews that Swami is a band in the traditional sense, and not a looser collective as is the case with many R&B groups.[2]

History[edit]

Swami's debut dance album Desi Nu Skool Beatz was initially released on Simon & Diamond Duggal's own Sub Dub label in 1998. After Sub Dub folded the album was picked up by Nation Records. Described as "blinding" by the Birmingham Post,[3] the album received some international recognition when the opening track Mehbooba appeared in the 2004 Olsen twins movie New York Minute.[4] Nu Skool Beatz was followed by the 2002 album Bhangradotcom, which was less dance-oriented.[5]

2004-2006: The DesiRock Era[edit]

The band's big break came with the release of their third album DesiRock, which became popular across the entire British Asian music scene. By this time Diamond was the only original member remaining and had recruited his cousin S-Endz as rap vocalist in the band alongside British bhangra singer Jagz and MC Sarpanch.

The title track DesiRock was voted as a BBC Radio 1 favorite, which led to the band doing a Maida Vale session in the summer of 2005, and the track also appeared in the Official 2006 FIFA World Cup edition of Electronic Arts' FIFA series of video games.[6] In the same year DJ Swami won the Media Storm Best Producer award at the UK Asian Music Awards, as well as being nominated for Best Track (DesiRock) and Best Group.[7][8]

In late 2005, the band signed a deal with Sony BMG to release DesiRock in India as So Who Am I with a new line-up losing Sarpanch and replacing Jagz with new vocalist Supreet Suri (aka Sups). With a heavily modified sound (nearly all songs re-recorded with live guitar and drums, and additional vocals by S-Endz), they then embarked on a successful promotional tour of India which included a high-profile performance at the MTV Style Awards. The Hindu credited Swami with bringing British bhangra back to prominence in Indian clubs.[9]

A fourth album of live recording sessions was scheduled to be released in the spring of 2006.[2][6] Two songs from the sessions have been heard, Afraid and No Apologies, both at one stage were available on the band's Myspace site. Afraid's 'bhangra-fied mix' was also played on the BBC's Desi DNA programme. These recordings remain otherwise unreleased.

In December 2006, Dhol player and percussionist Bobby Panesar joined the band.

2007-2009: The Equalize Era[edit]

Swami on tour in Canada, August 2008 - from left to right, Sups, Bobby P, Diamond, S-Endz and Liana

In March 2007, an update was made to Swami's website, containing details of the forthcoming album and revealed that it would feature many guest appearances including Pras of The Fugees, Boostylz, Lady Ru, French rappers Asuivre, South African vocalist Ishmael, MC Spee from the band Dreadzone, Yam Boy and more.

It was later announced that Swami's 2007 release was to be named Equalize and would be out in the fall following a tour including Wychwood and Glastonbury festivals.

BBC Radio 1 premiered 'Hey Hey', the first single from Equalize on 14 August. The song had been hosted on social networking website MySpace for 2 weeks prior to this, in a deal which saw Swami as a MySpace Music Featured Artist. To date, the song has been played nearly 2 million times on MySpace.

Following the radio premiere of the song on the 14th, Radio 1 DJ Bobby Friction announced that Swami would be performing an exclusive live session at Maida Vale in a few weeks time.[10] The session was recorded and broadcast at the end of September and featured many new songs from Equalize and guest appearances from some of the featured artists including Boostylz, MC Spee and Ishmael.

Equalize was released in the UK on 24 September, and in mid November a music video began rotating for 'Hey Hey'.

In December 2007, Swami announced that they had signed a new international record deal with Virgin/EMI and would be releasing Equalize in India imminently. The major label release is a new version including bonus tracks, one of them being an all-new version of the track Electro Jugni featuring Swedish popstar DeDe Lopez.[11]

In January 2008, Swami won the 'Album Of The Year' award on DesiHits, and were nominated for 3 awards (Best Album, Best Producer and Best Underground Act) at the 2008 UK Asian Music Awards. Diamond was awarded the Best Producer award, but couldn't make the event, so S-Endz, Liana and Bobby Panesar accepted it on his behalf.

As of 2008, it is believed that drummer Rocky Singh and bass player Baba Stormz are no longer in the band, and their names have been removed from the list of band members on Swami's MySpace page.

In February 2008, Swami appeared on the UK TV show 'Desi DNA' on BBC 2 and performed Ching and Electro Jugni. The performance of Electro Jugni was also the debut of Swami's new female vocalist Liana. The video to Electro Jugni was shot a few weeks later and is expected to premiere soon.

In June 2008, Swami revealed a forthcoming digital EP of 'Electro Jugni/She's Mine'. Both songs are new versions, 'Electro Jugni' is a new Punjabi and Hindi version, and 'She's Mine' is an all-new English version of the song. Both songs feature all-new vocals from Sups, S-Endz and Liana. The artwork appeared shortly thereafter on MySpace, and the EP was eventually released on 9 March 2009.

In August 2008, Swami's "Hey Hey" music video received its Canadian premiere at Toronto's FILMI South Asian Film Festival, as part of FILMI's debut music video night programmed by Deejay Ra.

The video for Electro Jugni was premiered on the DesiHits website on 23 October 2008.

A trailer for the music video to She's Mine appeared in March 2009, but the full video has yet to be released.

2009-2011: The 53431 Era[edit]

On 12 June 2009, a brand new Swami song entitled Sugarless was premiered via the entertainment website DesiHits, who reported that the track would feature on an upcoming Swami compilation called 53431 that would contain the hits from the band's previous studio albums as well as 2 new songs (Sugarless and Tonight) and 2 remixes.

Sugarless received heavy worldwide radio support following its premiere, and shortly afterwards the band released a heavier dance remix, entitled Sugarless (The New Desi Generation Remix) which also went on to receive airplay.

53431 was released on 17 August 2009 and the music video for Sugarless premiered in early September.

In an interview with Eastern Eye newspaper in November 2009, S-Endz revealed that the band were currently working on a new album and it would be "an international English pop album which will be released by a major US label".[12]

In a newsletter sent out on 27 January 2010, S-Endz mentioned that he and Diamond had written 20 new songs for the new album, and that the 20 songs would all be completed before the best ones were chosen.[13]

The "Sugarless Tour 2010" took place in the UK and Canada across June and July, and the set included several new songs from the upcoming album. Shortly afterwards, a photo of Diamond and S-Endz in Metalworks Studios was uploaded to Facebook alongside a caption indicating that they were mixing the new album.

2011-current: The Upgrade Era[edit]

On 17 May 2011, a new track entitled "Dumdaraka (Dub Upgrade)" was released to BBC Radio 1 and Asian Network. The following week, on 24 May, Diamond revealed in an interview with DJ Nihal on BBC Radio 1 that the new album is entitled 'Upgrade'.

In December 2012, a video preview of "Back It Up", the first official single from the new album was uploaded to Swami's official YouTube channel. On the 12th of January 2013, the single was released in two different versions - the original mix, sang in English, and the Desi Mix, sang in a mix of English, Punjabi and Hindi. The two tracks were released as a free download on the band's official website.

Discography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BBC Summer Sounds: Swami
  2. ^ a b Nand, Anoushka. "Desi Rock". Hot Ashes. 
  3. ^ "Clubs - Swami - Q&A". Birmingham Post. 21 August 1999. 
  4. ^ Yahoo! Movies: New York Minute
  5. ^ Global-trance.co.uk: Swami
  6. ^ a b Swamimusic.com: Secrets of 2006
  7. ^ "It's rappers Vs rockers at 2005 British Asian Music Awards". Hindustan Times. 24 January 2005. 
  8. ^ Press release from the UKAMA
  9. ^ Vishnu, A. (11 March 2006). "New age UK bhangra is here". The Hindu. 
  10. ^ BBC Radio 1:
  11. ^ Official Swami Site:
  12. ^ S-Endz Eastern Eye Interview:
  13. ^ S-Endz Newsletter January 2010:

External links[edit]