Interview: Amar speaks to DesiXpress
Her dad is the legendary Mangal Singh who gave us the infamous ‘Rail Gaddi’ song. (Yes, we’ve all danced to it at a wedding!) But for Amar it’s all about the future not the past. She floored R&B producer Timbaland with her voice and featured on his multi-platinum album Shock Value. Last month Amar released her second album, ‘Show It Off’. We caught up with the R&B diva for a quick chat…
How did you get into the music business?
I come from a musical family. Many people may or may not know, but my father, Mangal Singh, was the lead singer of a pioneering band that brought and introduced bhangra music to the UK in the 80’s, Chirag Pehchan.
Because of this, I was always around music, and anything to do with music, so naturally I began to sing and copy my Dad from around the age of 5, at home, with him and the harmonium. He took me into a recording studio not long afterwards and I recorded a song which ended up in the shops, and with me being signed to a label.
Did you always know that you were going to be a singer or did you have other dreams as a child and what do you think you would be doing today if it wasn’t music?
Whilst singing was in my genes, I was always a very shy child! I used to hate having to sing in front of people so never ever would have thought that I would become a performer. That side of things came to the forefront of my personality when I turned into a teenager – that’s when I knew. Before that I always thought that I would be a doctor – funny that, considering I cannot even look at blood! I guess I always knew I would be an artiste but also didn’t know, at the same time, if you know what I mean. If I didn’t become an artiste I think I would be a Writer, I like writing stories.
You have worked with great producers such as Timbaland and Jim Beanz, how did you first meet and how would you describe that experience.
When I first hooked up with my management, Sunset Entertainment, they told me that they also managed a producer called Jim Beanz. So I looked him up on Wiki and found out that he had been working with the likes of Nelly Furtado and Jennifer Hudson and was one of Timbalands right hand men in the production and vocal arrangement areas. I expected Jim to be arrogant because of the success that he had had in such a short space of time. He was the total opposite. We met in Philly, and spent a week together recording demos. These demos were played to Timbaland, who at the time was recording Shock Value. Within a day I found myself on a flight to work with him. That was an exciting time but also scary time. Timbaland had always been one of my favourite producers and because of his love for the Indian sound, I had always known deep in my heart that one day I would work with him, but I had no time to mentally prepare myself. It almost didn’t happen…4 flights cancelled on us due to snowstorms, then my luggage got lost. I went to sleep, in the knowledge that my session would be the next day and by that time I would have my luggage. At 2am I got a call saying Timbaland was ready for me. Panic set in, I had no clothes, no make up, nothing. But everything happens for a reason. That night we recorded Bombay which was chosen for Shock Value.
You released your album ‘Show It Off’ last month. Can you tell us a little bit about the album?
‘Show it Off’ has taken around 2 years to make and was recorded in London, the US, and India – my carbon footprint will be huge! It’s an amazingly intricate album, in the way that it has been so carefully produced and every sound so perfectly managed and honed. The album has been produced by Jim Beanz and Charlie Hype, a very talented producer from the UK, now living in the US. We would build a beat in the US then take the track to India to add orchestras and then back to the US to mix and give it that overall pop sound. It’s an urban sounding record but the songs are very Pop. I’m lucky in that I have been able to work with the best of the East and the West on the record, collaborating with the likes of Jim Beanz and DOE and then Sonu Niigam and Shankar Ehsaan and Loy, who are all completely characters and all brought something different to the pot.
How did you hook up with your management company in USA?
I knew Charlie Hype from when I was a kid and he used to work with my Dad. We lost touch later down the line, until he came to our house one day and said that he had moved to the US and signed to a management company called Sunset and that I should meet them. He suggested that I go with him to the US and record some demos with him and their other producer Jim, and that they worked with Timbaland. I was very wary, because of the name dropping that was going on, but it all turned out to be true – they were who they said they were! We did a weeks run of demoing and I signed to Sunset shortly afterwards, as it was clear that they were the right team for me.
How is it different recording in the USA versus other parts in the world such as India or England?
It’s very different. They are very fast in the US! It’s all about knocking out the tracks and brainstorming and ideas, then getting into the details later. Recording in India has always been a beautiful experience for me, because of the whole ‘live’ feel. You can record an idea then a day later have a full orchestra playing it out – that’s amazing – and they are very fast.
Is there an artist or producer out there that you would love to work with if possible and what would you say is your biggest achievement in music?
I already work with one of my production heroes, Timbaland, but if there was another producer I would want to work with it would be A.R.Rahman. I guess I need to join the queue! My biggest achievement so far in music is this album. I’m extremely proud of the finished article.
Who is on your iPod?
Anything from Mariah Carey… to Bjork…to Timbaland….to Rihanna….to Kings of Leon…to Om Shanti Om….its an eclectic mix !
‘Show It Off’ by Amar is available to buy now. For further info on Amar log onto www.AmarMusicOnline.com