We recently had the opportunity to chat with Kaos Production!
Kaos Production are two brothers, Amo and Laki Hayer, who have produced bhangra music throughout the years. Their Bhangra music journey really came about in 2009 when close friend and multi award winning producer, Tru-Skool provided the platform with support and guidance and helped give birth to Kaos Productions.
After the success of their previous remix album alongside Tru Skool entitled 'In Tha House,' Kaos have released their next album entitled 'Kaos Was The Case' where they selected songs which have been successful globally and then gave a unique Kaos 'touch.
How did you get into music production?
Interesting story - Back in 1988, my dad who sings Dharmik geet and is an avid collector of Sikhi related music and video, had booked a recording session in a studio in Walsall to record a Dhadi Jatha. They were a no show and as we had a block booking the engineer and owner of the Studio, John (also guitarist for Roshni group) encouraged my dad to record his own album instead.
I (Amo) was 14 years old at the time and only had experience of playing the Tabla with my dad at Gurdwaras every Sunday. John was my first and only teacher and introduced me to synths and helped guide the recording of the album - all in an environment where there were no computers or cut and paste options. The recording was all done live, and in real time and I learned how to play keys, chords and bass lines and program drums during the recording of this first dharmik album.
What is the most important skill a music producer or engineer should acquire when producing a bhangra track?
It's important that a track has a clean sound and good bottom end in Bhangra songs - especially dancefloor orientated songs. We do feel however that the vibe of the track has to drive the song, too many times we see examples of songs that have been over-engineered and lose the rawness and energy that we would associate with Bhangra music.
The skill is in focusing on the overall mix and vibe/groove of a track.
Do you feel as though having the support of a music label is important in today's society?
It's probably down to how much you are willing/able to do for yourself. These days everything required to release a song is readily accessible online and a label is limited to what they can offer due to investment required vs potential returns.
How impressed are you with the current level of Punjabi cinema – Is it an exciting time to be involved with it right now?
Punjabi cinema seems to be flying high as of late, although piracy has had a massive effect on music, it seems as if people are still willing to go out and pay to watch a movie in the cinema so there is potential for some seriously good movies to be made.
There are obviously many unexplored genre's to be tapped into outside of comedy, so hopefully that will happen in the future.
Do you feel the Bhangra scene is suffering because producers are, generally, relying too much on their signature sound?
Having a signature sound is not a bad thing - many mainstream producers have their own sound. Whats probably more damaging is the hordes of new guys copying the signature sounds of a select few producers and rendering them rinsed out, rather than creating their own vibe.
We do think there is scope for experimentation as we tried to do recently with Gurj Sidhu (Deep Obsession) but considering the amount of money it takes for a release, not many artists want to take that kind of risk and prefer to play it safe by asking producers to keep it 'familiar'.
Creatively, what do you think of the contemporary Punjabi music industry?
Creatively speaking, there is not enough fresh music around. Focus is on look over sound.
Which artists excite you and do you think are maintaining standards?
There is a lot of attention on artists from India at the moment and there are definitely decent individual projects coming out rather than all the catalogue of any said artist.
How do you view the infrastructure of Asian music here in the UK?
The UK is in a difficult place at the moment musically, we find that we have to reach out on many levels ourselves and connect with our audience on almost a 1 on 1 basis via our social media. It's difficult for anyone to get any sort of substantial backing.
We are still knocking on doors ourselves and trying to push our music hands on, and are grateful for the support we are finally receiving from music fans and select media outlets.
Are you ever worried as an artist what people on the internet will think of your music?
Initially it was an issue in the sense that keyboard warriors and those with hidden agendas (ie the competition) have this power to go online and bad mouth your work, post hateful comments and even insult our families without any justification. No job is worth that as we are just normal everyday people who have the same struggles and issues as anyone else.
We do not think we are better than anyone and would like people to understand that just like you walk into a shop and buy what you like and leave what you don't like on the shelf (without spending your time hating on it), such is music.
There are many kinds of music for many tastes, it's ultimately up to an individual how much they value the days and hours given to them by God, and how they see fit to use that time.
What are your thoughts on egotistical artists and producers, as well as ghost production?
Ego is one of the most destructive things out there. We feel it's an absolute blessing to be able to separate reality from delusion. Life is temporary and so is everything that we all are and will leave behind. People who think they are better than others have no place around us and hopefully they will come to realise that everybody is created equal.
Ghost production has led to many people coming out with material they pretend to make, It's probably a better idea to tell the truth. Being an executive producer, or someone who just employs skilled people to bring their musical vision to life is not necessarily a bad thing. For example if you wanted to build a house and had a vision on how it should be, you would employ an architect to plan it and a builder to make it brick by brick. There's no need to be pretending you are something that you're not.
You’ve always had your ear to the street too. How would you say both street music and UK Bhangra have changed? There must be a lot of new sounds and opportunities you find exciting?
In all honesty our influences still come from older music. We find that most new music also depends on the old music for inspiration and a lot of riffs, song structures and compositions have influences from the older stuff. UK Bhangra has changed a great deal in terms of the lack of being adventurous with instruments. The sax in Dhola ve Dhola, Electric Guitars from DCS songs and crazy keyboard sounds used by The Sahotas have all been replaced by Tumbi, Sarangi and Harmonium in every single song.
Street music we grew up on includes Shabba Ranks, Buju Banton, Supercat, Daddy Freddy, Maxi Priest, Snoop, Dre and so many other artists who had an individual unique vibe and flair. We are so lucky to have been a part of that music culture. great music always attaches itself to memories and times in life that are etched in your mind forever.
With the Bhangra industry being relatively small, do you think the business model needs to more rapidly shift towards live performance, considering the prevalence of ghost production and disingenuous artists?
Live performance may also have a short shelf life - we are seeing a great deal of English music being played at Punjabi weddings nowadays. At what point do people just not bother booking a live act? Maybe that’s where it’s all heading so we think all energies should be focused on industry revival by having exciting music re-introduced into the game.
Part 2 Coming Soon!
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