British pop singer Jay Sean is considered instrumental in making Punjabi music a part of international genres of music and dance. And Sean has always been very vocal and proud of his roots. 17 years since his debut single Dance with You became a superhit, Sean has several hits to his credit, and he says he has seen a lot of things during this time.
He adds, “I have seen many changes in the musical landscape and also in the way that music is ingested by the audience now. Obviously, when I first came onto the scene, music was only available to buy and in a physical form (CD’s). It was mostly heard on radio or TV, and that was all! It also meant there were fewer artistes since the majority of music you heard were from artistes that had a record deal, and those were few and far between. Now, of course, with everything going digital, it has meant that music is freely available on multiple streaming platforms, opening the industry up to anyone and everyone who enjoys making music.”
And Sean is happy with this development because it means the independent music genre has come to the forefront. “This of course has led to a huge wave of independent artistes — there is so much to choose from, you can listen to whoever you want, from wherever you want, whenever you want. For the art, it means music is truly open to individual expression, which is a beautiful thing,” says the singer, who released a track titled Nakhre last month, in collaboration with Rishi Rich, for the video app Triller.
Talking about the song, Sean says, “Nakhre is a fun, feel good up-tempo song that sparks nostalgia but feels current and modern at the same time. Lyrically it is playful, musically it is truly global, encompassing elements of Reggaeton, AfroBeats, Bollywood, RnB, and Punjabi! It’s fresh and fun. Working with Triller on the new song has allowed us to have fun whilst engaging with and interacting with our fans and audience.”
He adds that working on the video of this track has been a “pleasant distraction for him during the lockdown”. “Keeping yourself busy with something you are passionate about is an excellent way to take your mind off the difficulties that this pandemic has presented. I have placed my focus on things that I enjoy doing, knowing that there are certain things out of my control like being able to tour. It is during this time, for example, that I launched my podcast Basement Banter and worked on more content for my social media as well as recorded more songs,” says Sean.
The singer had also brought in focus the fusion of bhangra and RnB genres when he released his debut album. And he says that Punjabi music truly makes people “stand up and dance”. “As a Punjabi myself, growing up I’ve always seen Bhangra music as the “dancefloor” sector of Indian music. Its production lends itself to drum-driven dance vibes, and catchy sing along melodies. There is of course traditional folk Punjabi music that might not be in that vein, but a lot of it is fun and geared towards party bangers,” he explains.
It has been quite an unusual year due to the ongoing pandemic and the lockdown. But Sean says he has always been of the mindset to let go of what he can’t control. “Worrying or obsessing over the negatives in life and factors which are simply out of my control do not help me in anyway. My time is better spent relishing the joyful things in my life, spending time with loved ones, enjoying activities that bring me happiness and being grateful for what I have. That to me is the key in remaining in a peaceful and happy state despite of what is going on around you,” he concludes.