Connect with us

The Plunge Daily

The Rajahs have Arrived and How!

Artist in Focus

The Rajahs have Arrived and How!

SoundTree in conversation with the Reggae Rajahs about representing and leading reggae in India, before they kick-start their fifth anniversary tour on Bob Marley’s birthday.

Reggae Rajahs our Artist-in-Focus this month are India’s first reggae sound-crew that started out as a three member outfit in Delhi, some five years ago, when reggae was practically non-existent. In this exclusive interview, the Rajahs talk about bringing reggae to India and representing “Indian reggae” all over the world, before they kick-start their fifth anniversary tour.

Five years into the reggae scene, the Reggae Rajahs still remain a bunch of wide eyed boys with a love for making music and bringing reggae to India. They have come a long way though, from being a niche band playing an obscure (then in India) genre of music at weekly sessions in Delhi’s TLR Cafe mostly to expats, to now touring cities, and opening to the biggest international act in the Capital last year. Essentially started by Diggy Dang aka Raghav Dang, General Zoos aka Zorawar Shukla and DJ Mocity aka Mohammed Abood. Reggae Rajahs have performed all over the world, and Ziggy B aka Rahul and Be Lights are part of the crew now. They’re accompanied by Irish reggae vocalist and MC on this tour, he’s featured on many sound tracks with them as well.

Formed on Bob Marley’s birthday, at a tribute night in a local club, they have performed all over the world, and are regular faces at several music festivals around the country, and have been nominated previously  (in 2012) for Best International Group at the British Reggae Industry Awards along with Toots & the Maytals, Mighty Diamonds and Third World. Last year, when Snoop Lion played in India, Reggae Rajahs opened for them. Read on to know more about this dynamic bunch.

SoundTree: It’s been five years for Reggae Rajahs, what lies ahead for Reggae Rajahs after this; what can your fans expect for the future?

Diggy Dang: Our vision is to start creating more music, writing more lyrics that fit our sound. Just leave a stamp of Indian reggae. Our ultimate goal is to create something which is of Indian significance. Whether it is Indian lyrics, or local languages, or Indian in terms of instrumentals, you know. Something that leaves a mark represents the Indian reggae scene across the world. You guys heralded the Indian reggae scene in India.

ST: Would you say the scene has changed since you started?

DD: Definitely changed, I would say, principally because the Indian underground music scene has changed. Not only for reggae but for different kinds of music, a lot of different bands have emerged with different sounds. A new generation of Indians have been exposed to this music through the internet, or those who have lived abroad and studied abroad have come back here, who are actually doing things for the scene. In terms of Reggae specifically, when we initially started we would mainly play to expats, who are more familiar with this music. I have noticed younger kids are getting into it, whether it is via our radio show, through our gigs, whether it is the weekly night at Raasta every Thursday, or whether it is going touring around India. Many people have been exposed to this music. Specially say in Pune, the crowd there is in the 18-25 brackets, and we have a good fan following there, for people have seen us, and they have grown up with us.

ST: You have the Dubstation there…

DD: Yes, the Dubstation is one of the most crucial things, for it was a changing point for us. You have a bar and club like this (Raasta) to attract a certain kind of clientele which is more upmarket, people who can afford to come to a bar like this and buy a drink. You have to be a certain age as well to come here. Whereas at a festival, people are coming for all kinds of music. You may just stumble across a stage like the dub-station and have reggae artists perform there and get interested. Whereas in a club, you may think I’m not really into reggae so no need to come. So dub-station has definitely helped us a lot with the scene.

ST: Does the reggae scene differ from city to city in India?

DD: I mean definitely, the bigger cities have logistical advantages; so we tend to go there more. There are bars and clubs which get us down for shows. But I don’t think it’s limited to that. I think it is open to all cities, B Town or C Town, people are interested. They’re actually going out and researching about reggae music. For instance, someone from Punjab approached us and said we’ve heard about you, we want you to come and do a tour in Punjab. This is Panchkula, Ambala and Chandigarh. We’re very much open to it, but you know, when the time is right.

ST: Even in terms of Bombay, Delhi and Bangalore, where do you think reggae has more of a foothold so to speak?

GZ: Pune is definitely one of the places where we enjoy playing a lot. It’s a younger crowd so we really get into it. The college crowd is also into that sub-based-dub-step-jungle music. We don’t play so much of that but our music is the foundation of that music. People are curious to find out how we showcase that kind of music.

ST: When you guys started playing, reggae in India was an absolutely niche genre so there was a lot of introducing the people to the music. How difficult was that?

GZ: That is the thing, if you make it interesting for people to listen to; the music sort of comes with that. Reggae music has a very conscious message. People may not actually realize it when they hear it in a club but when you announce it, and introduce a track, what the meaning of the song is, they would feel more connected to it. It could be about anything, it could be about fighting your own personal struggles, it could be about fighting the system, fighting corruption, and the way reggae music is, I feel it should be interactive, if you do not constantly engage people, they could lose attention.

ST: What is your strategy then?

GZ: Our strategy is we introduce a tune and talk about a tune, get the crowd to participate, make them have a good time.

ST: Any pre-gig rituals?

DD: Not really, we keep a positive outlook, a couple of shots of alcohol doesn’t really help…I mean it helps. Whatever keeps your nerves calm. Today we haven’t really done anything because it has been a very stressful day running around for the tour but tonight onwards we start celebrating.

ST: You are an intercontinental band with DJ MoCity from Iraq. How easy or difficult is it to keep up?

DD: Oh, the internet! It is a concept of spreading the wings, taking the name and representing Reggae Rajahs all across. So it is a lot of decision making and we all try to keep on the same page. Keep at it basically.

ST: You have been nominated for the Best International Group at the British Reggae Industry Awards along with Toots & the Maytals, Mighty Diamonds and Third World. While you’re an international band, do you think India has a definite developing reggae culture?

GZ: Definitely, the scene has developed a lot in the last few years, and it is an exciting time to be in India. There’s a soundclash in Bombay for instance, and soundclash is a different type of entertainment that we have to promote.

ST: You guys opened for Snoop Lion last year. What remains the most memorable part of the experience?

DD: I mean it was cool hanging out with the whole entourage. We grew up listening to that music. Gangsta rap music was definitely part of our youth. In the early nineties Snoop Dogg crept up, so to just hang out with them on a friendly level was amazing. It was a turning point for us as well in a certain sense. So many people who might not have heard of us, they may be hip hop heads, but they might be seeing that some kids were doing reggae music and it can be entertaining for us at the same time.

GZ:  I think the most memorable thing for me was the song was that people joined us on set. We were joined by a couple of rappers from New Delhi – Samara C as well as Delhi Sultanate. So it was a big all-star jam, different MCs and us. That was really memorable. Delhi, being represented just before Snoop Dogg opened.

A song that has become an earworm.

Zook Mavado –Only Gyal.

RaghavTarrus Riley My Day – The song’s really personal to me, I get up listening to it and it’s pretty nice.

Ziggy B– Cian Finn – Trouble Bubble ‘Bubba Bubba Bubba’ ( the crew breaks into song at this point.)

(To see the Reggae Rajahs get candid, check out our photographs here. To catch up with your other favourite bands and event information, check out our gallery here. )

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

To Top