Jaz Dhami: The Punjabi Crooner Who’s Got the Best of All Worlds
February 21, 2019 · 3 Minute Read
Whether it’s the BBC or Stevie Wonder, British Punjabi folk/hip-hop artist Jaz Dhami has won them all over since he started out a decade ago. More so, Jaz’s credits, over the years, include singing hooks alongside the likes of Honey Singh, Raftaar, Neha Kakkar, and finding a regular collaborator and mentor of sorts with ace producer Dr. Zeus.
The work is regularly paying off for Jaz Dhami, considering 2016 saw his Bollywood music debut for the films Sanam Re and Ki & Ka. And even as he enjoyed acclaim in both U.K. and India for his work, the singer finally got to kick off an extensive U.S. tour late last year. He recounts, “I’ve been to the US to do shows before, but never for such a long stretch. It was really good getting to know what the audiences out there are feeling, and which of my songs are the favorites. It was also amazing connecting with some great artists and others in the music scene while in the US. It gave me a real insight into how the music scene over there is developing.”
The tour was put together on the back of releasing his fourth album, Pieces of Me. Despite its English title, the eight-track album brings together Punjabi folk, bhangra, hip-hop, pop, and electronic elements in Jaz’s signature style, with help from some of the most able-minded producers and beatmakers in the world. Songs like “Faisla” (produced by V Rakx) infuse a seemingly Middle Eastern-inspired melody, while “Purple Suit” (produced by Desi Routez) sounds like an instant classic in its folk-leaning beats. There’s even an all-out trap-leaning experiment on “So Simple,” which is produced by Snappy.
As much as Pieces of Me puts Jaz Dhami in the league of truly global Punjabi artists, the singer feels it’s important not to always keep territories or specific audiences in mind when writing music. “This album changed shape as I went through the process of making it, to be honest. I lost myself in trying to make songs for particular regions, which is why the sounds are so different, but that’s also a reflection of me as an artist.” He mentions how “Kurti Malmal Di”, produced by Tigerstyle, was made with a Bollywood movie feel in mind, but the label loved it as a single. “V Rakx is one of my favorite bhangra music producers – we were only working on one song, but the second and third ones just worked,” Jaz adds.
For his upcoming EP and future releases, the singer-composer is armed with the knowledge that people in India have opened up to a lot more “western music.” Jaz says, “I’ve reassessed my thought process, recalling when I made “High Heels” with Honey Singh. We weren’t thinking about any part of the world, we just wanted to make a banging record.” His upcoming material focuses on matching one song to another, aiming for the cohesiveness he felt was lacking on Pieces of Me.
Jaz is working with producer Alan Sampson (whose previous credits include songs for hitmaker Jay Sean) on the EP, which the singer calls his “favorite work.” Three out of four songs on the EP are produced by Sampson. “I feel like I found my musical soul brother with Alan. The whole approach to making these songs has been so different, I’ve really had to challenge myself in the studio, in the best possible way. I’m having so much fun making the music I am right now,” Jaz says.
Along with cohesiveness, Jaz also wants to deliver something he feels is lacking in Punjabi music right now – authenticity. With that cracked, the singer feels the world is very close to seeing many global Punjabi folk-influenced stars. The biggest support system for these artists, of course, is the widespread presence of Punjabi music lovers all around the globe. He agrees that Punjabi music currently appeals to everyone. “Punjabi audiences love a good party and are the biggest supporters of Independent South Asian artists,” he says.
2019 marks a decade in the music biz for Jaz and the milestone he wants to set down is making music he’s proud of, instead of trying to please anyone. “I want it to ooze quality,” he says and his latest Artist Originals track, “Kai Saal” is the perfect translation of his thought process.