Swami (band)

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Swami
Swamijan2008.jpg
Swami Photoshoot Jan 2008
Background information
Origin Birmingham, England
Genres Bhangra
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
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 British Indian bhangra/Asian Underground band from Birmingham, England.[1] "Swami" is also the pseudonym of the band's leader Diamond Duggal (aka DJ Swami), who founded the band with his brother Simon Duggal. The band has made it clear through interviews that Swami is a band in the traditional sense, and not a looser collective.[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 favourite, 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 premièred "Hey Hey", the first single from Equalize on 14 August. After this, Radio 1 DJ Bobby Friction announced that Swami would soon be performing an exclusive live session at Maida Vale.[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 soon be releasing Equalize in India. 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 could not attend the event, so S-Endz, Liana and Bobby Panesar accepted the award on his behalf.

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.

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 EP was eventually released on 9 March 2009.

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

The video for "Electro Jugni" was premièred 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, the Swami song "Sugarless" was premièred 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, two new songs ("Sugarless" and "Tonight"), and two remixes.

"Sugarless" received heavy worldwide radio support following its première, 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 premièred 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.

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, sung in English, and the Desi Mix, sung in a mix of English, Punjabi and Hindi. The two tracks were released as a free download on the band's official website.

In August 2014, the band announced they would be flying to India to film a music video for a song called "Let's Do It Again". [14]

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:
  14. ^ Twitter

External links[edit]