If you know anything about the UK Indie pop industry, you would know about Dr Zeus. As one of the pioneers of the British Asian music industry, he has consistently produced music that has rocked the charts and been a trendsetter for many others. Ayesha Babar spoke to him about his musical journey and his new track, Party Nonstop.
Ayesha: Your last song in Bollywood was the superhit ‘Kamlee’ that was featured in the Shah Rukh Khan – Deepika Padukone starrer, Happy New Year but then we haven’t heard much from you since. What’s the reason behind the gap?
Dr Zeus: To be totally honest with you, when I did Kamlee, I didn’t have a good experience with Kanika Kapoor. A few things happened at that time that left me rather upset and put me off from working in Mumbai. I thought if that is the way that I am going to be treated out there, then I would rather not. I was quite happy and content working on British Punjabi music.
Now things are different. I have actually got an apartment in Mumbai in Versova and I am getting my own studio built. I am making an effort to go to Mumbai and to do more Bollywood stuff. I am now over that phase where I was put off and now am quite positive about the whole thing. I am going to go out there and prove my mettle by doing more Bollywood work.
DZ: Party Nonstop was a song that I had made while I was in Mumbai working on Kamlee and Lovely. It was one of the numbers that I had planned to put in a movie. Then I took such a long break from Bollywood, I thought hey, why not enter Bollywood with a single first to announce that Dr Zeus is around and then to continue with Bollywood work. So Party Nonstop is one of those songs that was made for Bollywood but as things turned out, I put it out as a pop song with Universal. The studio loved the song and wanted to do a video directed by the wonderful Mohit Suri.
A: Tell us more about the video. How was it working with Mohit Suri?
DZ: It was an excellent working experience with Mohit. He is a cool dude, great guy. He knows how to bring the best out of the people he is dealing with, in terms of moods and expressions. And I think that shows in the video too. It is by far one of the best videos I have done for any of my songs. It was a personal track with me singing as well and he made it that much more special for me.
It feels great that Mohit Suri directed the video and Universal released it worldwide. It doesn’t really get better than that. The video has also had millions of views so far in a short span of time. I guess the track is still growing and the numbers are going up especially on the weekend, so I think people are really taking it up as a party track.
DZ: The pop scene is now coming back. I think the proof is how much money the studios are willing to put on pop artists now. For example how Universal really took up Party Nonstop, hired Mohit to direct the video and got Evelyn Sharma to star in it with me. All this really points us to the fact that the pop scene is coming back with a big bang. There was a time when it was all just about Bollywood but that is changing. Badshah is now putting out his own album with his single Mercy already out. Raftaar is putting out his own personal music too so it is definitely a growing scene.
A: What else are you working on in terms of Bollywood and otherwise?
DZ: Currently, I am working quite closely with Kapil Sharma on a project. I am also working on a mainstream, project with a hip hop artist which is going to have a famous Indian actress in the video as well. It will be very mainstream, like a Naughty Boy kind of project and it will be out just after the summer.
I have some really interesting things in the pipeline and a lot of Bollywood things happening so definitely very exciting times.
A: For the past couple of years, there has been this debate in India about pop and hip hop music numbers that are almost a staple in every film. A lot of people have said that there has been a shift away from meaningful lyrics and there was even a spoof done with Irrfan Khan recently. On the other side, the demand is obviously there with people wanting to listen to more of this music. What is your take on this?
DZ: Music is always evolving – I see that in today’s music scene, music is doing more of the talking than even the lyrics are! I think one needs to go with the fashion and trends and more importantly with what is working.
You can also be a trendsetter. I always look at it in a different way – the inspirations are there but I have always tried to add my own style to my music. A lot of people are taking sample CDs of what the latest sounds and beats are then rehashing the same stuff. There is definitely a lack of unique sounds. Someone who is great at arranging will now put their name as the producer or music director. Whereas, from the start, I have tried to produce a different kind of sound – I will always add the signature Zeus quotient to the music so that as soon as you listen to the song, you would know that it is my music.
Indian music has always been very melodic and the music has been a highlight. Even with hip hop and pop now, if the song isn’t essentially melodic, it does not fare well with listeners, so that element of melody always has to be there. So the style might change but the essence will remain the same.
A: What message would you like to give to the many young people who are interested in making music and look up to you.
DZ: First of all, I would like to thank everyone for the support for my music.
For anyone looking to get into music, I would say take your time. Don’t rush just because you want to be on TV. Learn and perfect the art before you move forward and good things will come your way.
I think it is very important for young people who want to make music to understand that each musician needs to have their own individual style and sound. Keep up with the trends but try and figure out how the trends can suit you.
Most importantly, I would say stay positive, stay happy. Good things happen for happier, positive people!
A: Thank you very much for taking out the time.
DZ: It’s been a pleasure speaking to you!