In Conversation With Apache Indian
What does it really take to call yourself a Punjabi pop sensation these days? Hmmm... Frankly, nothing more than a stinking rich dad who will let you hire a recording studio where the new-age mixing machines will make you sound like Gurdas Maan, 20-30 scantily clad firangi dancers who will dance around the bonnet of a Lamborghini or a stretched-limo for the video and a shadiwala videographer. THAT’S IT. However, reggae artist Apache Indian belongs to an era when getting a private album out was a tough nut to crack...the early 90s when none of the dance parties was complete without playing Arranged Marriage and Chok There. Still, he slipped into oblivion (at least that’s what we thought) for over two decades. In an hour-long chat with Simply Punjab, the 46-year-old reveals why he never slipped into oblivion and how he intends to bring back his days of glory with his new album, It Is Where It Is.
FHM: Where did you vanish after Arranged Marriage (AM) and Chok There (CT)?
Apache Indian: C’mon! Just because I was not singing Punjabi numbers doesn’t mean I vanished. I was extremely busy in Japan for a few years. Tell me one thing; will it make sense to perform bhangra there? And until and unless I don’t perform bhangra, will I be talked about in India?
FHM: Got the point, but do you think you will be able to surpass the success of AM and CT?
Apache Indian: No. I am now old... I don’t even relate to Arranged Marriage anymore.
FHM: Now that’s a brave confession especially at a time when your new album is just about to hit the stands.
Apache Indian: Fact is fact.
FHM: What makes It Is Where It Is worth buying?
Apache Indian: This is that ‘big’ album that I always wanted to come up with. While my fans know who I’m and what I do, this album will connect me to the new generation. I have travelled to 27 countries in the last two years, and this album is the celebration of my life and my work.
FHM: And how exactly do you intend to do so? We mean the production values.
Apache Indian: The album was written and recorded in the USA with Jims Beanzs from the Sunset Entertainment Group (SEG). Internationally, he has worked with some of the hot and happening names like Timbaland, Nelly Furtado, Shakira, Pussycat Dolls and Britney Spears.
FHM: In India?
Apache Indian: He has collaborated with Sonu Nigam and Shankar-Eshaan-Loy.
FHM: That sounds familiar. Do we see you performing live anytime soon?
Apache Indian: I’ll be back in November with a multi-city Asia tour including Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Pakistan, Malaysia and Philippines.
FHM: We are not sure but did you ever sing for Bollywood?
Apache Indian: Oh yes, I did. You seem to have forgotten No Problem. AR Rahman composed this track for Love Birds in 1996.
FHM: Anything more recent!
Apache Indian: There is something a song with Mika about to be released soon. And for Saif Ali Khan’s Race, I worked on a song with Taz of Stereo Nation.
FHM: Which song?
Apache Indian: I can’t remember.
FHM: Do you think this album will help you break into Bollywood and be a part of songs that you can at least remember?
Apache Indian: Yes. I would love to do more of Bollywood. The music scene here is quite huge, and internationally also, Bollywood is everywhere. This album is a step towards realising that big Bollywood dream.
FHM: But then, you stay in the UK will make it tougher to keep in constant touch with Mumbai!
Apache Indian: I intend to come back to India, I always wanted to. In fact, I have taken up a place here in Goa. If I shift, I will get to see my relatives in Jalandhar more frequently than I do now.
FHM: Go on...
Apache Indian: Nothing is more precious for an artist than the country that he belongs to. It’s always fun going back to your roots, and every time I come to India, I make it a point to go to Jalandhar. I’m a big fan of Punjabi food...all kinds of rotis and lamb dishes. I especially love the Punjabi music. The tempo in the Punjabi music and the vibrancy is simply amazing.
FHM: But you were not born in India.
Apache Indian: I grew up in the UK but my parents were from Punjab, and there was this big Punjabi influence on me right from my childhood days. I grew up listening to Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, while, out there on the streets, there was a lot of reggae, Jamaican and rock n’ roll. My music is a reflection of who I am. When my first record in 1989 created the whole new genre of Indi pop music, it was obviously a representation of my culture.
FHM: You speak Punjabi?
Apache Indian: Only a few words.
FHM: Can you recall a proud Punjab moment?
Apache Indian: After the release of Arranged Marriage, I had come down to visit my relatives in Jalandhar. There, I noticed this jalebiwala playing AM. I knew that the song was popular, but not so popular that even street side shops would play it. I was very happy that my song had reached this far.
FHM: Did the success ever get into your head?
Apache Indian: Yes it did. It’s quite natural if you perform to a packed house of 70-80 thousand audiences, but with time, I mellowed down.
FHM: And how did it change you personally?
Apache Indian: Even before I tasted success, I was a private person but then after the eyeballs that I garnered post-AM and CT, I became even more unapproachable and reserved.
FHM: Is that when Steven Kapur decided to become Apache Indian?
Apache Indian: I know you would expect me to give a high flying answer, but there was no thought process behind my decision to adopt Apache Indian as the stage name.
FHM: So, what exactly goes into the head of the artists when they decide on their stage names?
Apache Indian: I don’t know, but maybe it’s just the reflection of what they are, their music and their inspiration.
FHM: We hear that the area where you grew up in the UK is racially mixed... must not have been an easy childhood.
Apache Indian: Not really, but yes, there were moments of conflicts from the Blacks and then from the whites. They would poke us for what we are, and we would do it for what they were ‘not’. I would often come back to my family, and question our values and culture because there was a constant conflict between the culture that we followed inside the house and outside it when we were with the whites or the Jamaicans. With time, we got used to it, but the conflicts were there.
FHM: So was it the Jamaicans who inspired you for your dreadlocks?
Apache Indian: Initially yes, but soon I realised that even Bob Marley and other people who are popular for their dreadlocks were initially inspired by the sadhus.
FHM: Must be a tough job to maintain it...tougher than making an album.
Apache Indian: LOL. You just need to keep it clean. There is a lady who helps me maintain it.