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The State Of The British Bhangra Scene

Fast forward to the 90’s and the live scene was picking up a lot more, as more & more bands entered the live scene. Bhangra was getting more & more stronger & widespread & some clubs started hosting regular Asian nights on a weekly basis.
Day timers which started of in the late 80’s were still going strong as well. Back in the 80s was the first generation British Asians whom, with great pride wanted to share the folk sound of Punjab with fellow expatriates and keep the vibe, the 90’s saw that change to the birth of the mix’s, with people like Bally Sagoo, Panjabi MC, Mick St Clair, coming thru & mixing Bhangra with different sounds from around the world. People started experimenting with different sounds.Reggae, Hip Hop, Jungle, Swing, R& B, House, UK Garage, have all been mixed with Bhangra to create unique musical sounds. 
Also as some people embraced the new sounds Of British Bhangra, some were turning abroad, back home to India, for the pure Desi sounds.Soon singers like Surjit Bhindrakia, Sardool Sikander & Gurdas Maan were getting played again in Punjabi households & also started getting played in Gigs as well. The 90’s also saw new bands getting more popular all the time .Bands like Achanank, Saqi, The Sahotas, Anakhi, and Anammika were all providing a new sound for the British Bhangra scene.Internationally Jazzy B came on the scene from Canada & slowly but surely blew up into one of the Biggest Bhangra acts on the planet.
Here was a young guy with a raw & powerful voice, like the singers of Punjab, but dressed like the youths of the 90’s did. Having a funky Mohegan hair style helped him get noticed & stand out from the crowd of singers & bands.
 With the birth of a new sound, more & more youngsters were turning onto Bhangra.
The late 90’s saw the Birth of the PA’s. Bands like B21 & DIP stared to do PA’s rather then go out with Live bands.  The gig promoters loved the idea of having a semi live act on the bill.Not only did it save them money, but was also a new novelty act for the crowd.The downside to this was that bands started to die down, as more & more promoters ware going for PA’s. Also in the 90’s the DJ’s started becoming producers & playing there stuff out & getting billed on the line up as acts. All this contributed to the decay of the live scene. 
Today the biggest acts are without a doubt the Dj / Producers who have continued to control the gig scene in the 21st century.With only a handful of bands left, trying to keep the scene alive. People like Panjabi MC, Dr Zeus, DJ Sanj, Tarli Digital, and RDB are the main players on the DJ scene. 
The scene at the moment is now going back to its roots.More & more people are looking for live bands, as many have never seen them perform outside weddings. Sales were massive for Bhangra music, back in the late 80’s & early 90’s which you could say was the peak of Bhangra.It was in this period of time, that nearly anything tagged “Bhangra” would sell. Labels could not get there hands on enough acts to push out into the market which caused a huge decline in the quality of music coming out.
From a average album selling 10,000 + units to hit’s selling 50,000 + units & a few even hitting the 100,000 mark, in the late 80’s early 90’s, now a hit album is something which sell’s more than 6,000 units. An average album in today’s time might only sell around 2-3,000 units maximum. In today’s market you have to ask yourselves is there any NEW REAL TALENT IN THE UK? There bands of the 80’s/ 90;s have shown staying power, but so far over the last few years, there’s been no real talent coming out of the UK, that seem’s to have staying power. 
This is partly down to lack of quality, lack or A & R, but mostly down to the internet.
The amount of people that started to download music illegally of the net is in its millions.Some people don’t seem to release that it is illegal to download music without paying for it.Others don’t seem to care, the fact of the matter is, every single track that is downloaded without a fee involved, is another blow to the music industry, not just the Bhangra industry either.But the industry as whole! Artiste, Producers, Writers, Musicians, Retailers all suffer from illegal downloading.It not just the labels that suffer.  
Words by Tony Pabla ([email protected])