Renowned Punjabi singer and music director Sukh-E’s latest song ‘Coka’ is creating a lot of buzz on the internet. In this interview, Sukh-E talks about his musical journey, his early struggles and influences, and his collaboration with Bohemia.
Q1. Your music seems to bear a very unique stamp that looks more Western than Indian. Tell us about your origins as well as the inspiration behind you music
I hail from a small town in Punjab called Garhshankar. So whatever I have learnt about music I have learnt here in India only. Also, the first time that I went outside India was only 7-8 years back but by then my musical learning was already in a pretty advanced stage. But I have always been a keen observer. I am always on YouTube or Google in search of something new.
Right from a very young age I used to listen to artists from all across the globe. I never imagined that I would become an artist one day. It merely started as a hobby. When I went to Chandigarh for my higher studies, there was already a strong underground rap scene there. I remember Bohemia started hip-hop in India and people were just going crazy about it. So I started making beats for the underground artists as a means to make some pocket money. Once people started appreciating my work as an amateur it gave me the confidence to take it up as a career.
Q2. What kind of challenges did you have to face during your early days as an underground artist?
The thing is that people wouldn’t accept you until you do some really good work. The moment you are able to raise the bar to a point where your work starts influencing people you start getting noticed as an artist. The biggest challenge was to overcome the initial failures.
When I started approaching the music labels in the early days they didn’t even bother to patiently listen to my work. A company won’t invest in you until they see something worth investing in you. Also, when you are new you also somewhat lack in terms of content. Initially, I had to work as a music director for 4-5 years in order to prove myself. It was only much later after a long struggle that I could finally come out with my own song.
Q3. When it comes to the indie music scene in India, the music industry in Punjab has invariably been a trendsetter. As someone belonging to the new generation of Punjabi singers, tell us about the latest trends in the industry.
The most fascinating thing about the Punjab music industry is that it has grown constantly right from the very beginning. Even today it is growing at a very good rate. Of course, today we have a whole new generation of singers as well as listeners. Now the focus is on creating content with a greater pan Indian appeal.
So today there is a much greater awareness to choose the language in a manner that people outside Punjab can easily access it. This new generation is striving really hard to take the things to the next level. Take, for example, the case of our music videos which today are at par with the production quality of Bollywood.
Q4. ‘Jaguar’ has been an important milestone in your career and what makes it even more special is your collaboration with Bohemia. How did the two of you come together for the song?
Right from my early days I used to be a Bohemia fan. I always wanted to talk to him and get a picture clicked with him. After my song ‘Sniper’ had come out I finally approached him with a request to do a song with me. He told me that he would be happy to do a song with me if I had something interesting and so that’s when I sung ‘Jaguar’ to him.
At the time it was the only song that was ready with me. Actually I had prepared it for someone else but since he didn’t like it I had kept it for myself. After I sang it for Bohemia bhai he instantly agreed to do it. We finished the song in just 7-8 days and then immediately after that we shot the music video.
Q5. Taapsee Pannu’s character in Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyan makes a direct reference to your funky hairstyle. What was it like to be mentioned by a leading character of a Bollywood film?
The hairstyle was really meant to be an experiment and I seriously had no idea that it will become so popular with people. I am really grateful to Anurag sir and team for basing Vicky Kaushal’s hairstyle in the film on me.
Also, my name is specifically mentioned in the film. I remember I suddenly started receiving messages from friends urging me to watch Manmarziyan. It was really a big surprise for me and it touched me deeply.
Q6. A lot of Punjabi singers in the recent years have taken up acting as a profession. What has kept you away from acting in films?
Right now I want to solely focus on my music and singing. I am looking forward to some collaborations in Bollywood as well as internationally. I am really keen on taking my music to the next level. Whatever acting I do in my songs is good enough for me. As for the other acting offers that are coming my way I am not really considering them.
Q7. Tell us about your influences and inspirations. What can we expect next from you?
Jazzy B has been a lifelong influence. He is someone who has been a great source of influence right from my childhood. Then of course there are Bohemia, Dr. Dre, and Neptune, among others. So the influences are quite varied. Hopefully you can expect ‘Jaguar’ in a Bollywood movie soon. But I myself don’t know which movie because it would be coming through T Series. I am currently signed to Sony Music. We are working on a lot of interesting things. So just wait and watch.