Music legend Apache Indian has broken through boundaries and inspired an entire generation with his incredible achievements.
The latest chapter in his journey sees him team up with fellow stalwarts Bally Sagoo and Taz from Stereo Nation on new song Pretty Baby, which is released on April 28.
Eastern Eye got some of the most talented British-Asian acts to ask Apache one question each. He spoke about diverse subjects including music industry challenges, being a pioneer, fame, his amazing collaborations and why he won’t buy any more expensive sunglasses…
Niraj Chag: If you were to live to the ripe old age of 100, and for the last 40 of those years you could choose to retain either a 30-year-old’s mind or body, which would you choose?
I wouldn’t want the mind of a 30-year-old again unless I’ve lost my mind by then! The mind grows wiser as time goes by and I have no problem with getting older. The body slows down so maybe I would go for having a 30-year-old body. Good question!
Rameet Kaur: What inspired you to sing in a ragga style, and also do you like ladoos?
I was inspired to sing in a ragga style because of my love of reggae music as a teenager and my involvement with the Reggae Sound System culture that came from Jamaica. And I definitely love ladoos!
Ricky On Guitar: What was the biggest challenge for you when breaking into the UK music scene being an Asian artist? And do you believe that it would have been easier had you been an English artist? Also, get in touch as I would like to do some music with you…
The biggest challenge breaking into the mainstream was always having to prove myself, especially since there were no Asian mainstream artists and no Asians recording reggae songs.
Being Asian in the industry was sometimes a challenge and sometimes a great advantage as the mainstream couldn’t pigeonhole me. The danger is not to be taken as a novelty artist that will come and go. I won everyone over in the end. (Smiles) I’m ready to work with you, send me a track!
Tasha Tah: My favourite track of yours is the all-time classic DonRaja. Which one of your songs is your favourite?
DonRaja is a great song! My favourite song is Om Numah Shivaya as it was written and recorded at a special time in my life and also because it’s religious, conscious and spiritual. It has become my most requested song over the years.
Kazz Kumar: Is there a song that currently exists that makes you think: ‘Damn, I wish I wrote that?’
That’s a good question. I really like some of the songs that Ed Sheeran has released. I wish I wrote A Team; great track!
Mumzy Stranger: What inspired you to change your accent and style to reggae even though you are British?
I grew up loving reggae music but also understanding the language and culture from my friends and neighbours. My style is made up of elements from the British culture, which includes my Asian influences too.
So I didn’t change my accent. I used all my influences, from language to sound to style, to create something that reflected everything about me. I was celebrating a ‘new culture’ through music.
Metz and Trix: How does it feel to know you were such a pioneering artist, and how do you feel about songs like Boom Shack-A-Lak continuing to power on?
It feels great to be a part of the Western mainstream, especially since my music was based on a very personal style that reflected my life growing up in Birmingham. There weren’t any Asians in the mainstream back then so I felt proud to be representing.
Boom Shack-A-Lak is a great example of being mainstream as it’s been featured in over 100 TV commercials and eight Hollywood movies. What comes after being featured on an A-list Hollywood movie? It’s a great feeling!
Rav (Panjabi Hit Squad): Back in the 1990s, you had massive reggae/dancehall stars like Maxi Priest, Shaggy and Shabba Ranks making an impact in the top 40. What did they think of your chart success?
I always had great support from the reggae industry and artists in the UK and Jamaica. I collaborated with Maxi, Frankie Paul and Sly & Robbie on my first album and worked with many other artists on shows around the world.
Being in the charts was great as there has only been a handful of reggae artists that have ever crossed over, so there was a lot of respect from the industry. Also, I presented a show for MTV from Jamaica called Reggae Sound System as well as a show for Radio 1, which promoted reggae music.
So the reggae industry recognised my love and passion of promoting the movement worldwide, which is great for the artists and the industry.
Dee (Panjabi Hit Squad): One of the main pillars of dancehall is the sound-clash. Did you ever have to sound-clash another famous artist and how did it happen? Who won?
I clashed with many artists when I first started on sound systems back in the day. After releasing singles I didn’t really clash with artists. I was put alongside Supa Cat in Trinidad once; it was billed as a clash but was all love and respect on stage.
Suman: If you had to pick one Bob Marley record as your all-time favourite, which would it be?
I always loved his song So Much Trouble In The World the most. I love the lyrics and message in it. It was the first song that I played on my first Radio 1 show.
Shahin Badar: Describe to me how you see fate and faith?
I believe in fate and Karma. Faith is something which is personal and comes from what you believe in. Don’t ever lose your faith.
Shama: Who is the most interesting artist you have met on your musical travels?
The most interesting artist I have met has been producer, singer and songwriter Jim Beanz. He is based in the States and taught me so much about singing, writing and recording when I thought I knew so much already. Jim has been very inspirational and has pushed me to work on my vocals even harder, getting me to do things I’ve never done before. He has worked with some of the biggest names in the world but still remains the most humble person I know. I love Jim!
Zack Knight: How do we avoid being pigeonholed by the mainstream media? Is crossing over now worth it since India has such a thriving music industry?
The best way not to be pigeonholed by the mainstream is by doing your own thing as I did back in the 1990s. People didn’t know where to place a British-Asian reggae artist, especially with songs like Arranged Marriage. Crossing over is important if that’s what artists want to aim for. Remember, India does have a thriving industry but it’s not for everyone.
Jayden: What inspired and influenced you to choose the musical genres you decided to explore?
I didn’t really choose the musical genres, they chose me! I grew up with the love of my Asian sounds, culture and language. I love reggae due to being born in Handsworth, Birmingham, and I mixed that with the pop sounds I heard on the radio. My sound and style is simpler than people think; it was just a reflection of everything I grew up with.
Nyms: Having worked with some of the most talented people in the industry, who has been the most influential?
Working with Asha Bhosle on a song called Yeh Ladka was a great experience because she was a name that my parents grew up with.
It shows you can work with any artist regardless of age. It was amazing to see her work and how humble she was. It was inspiring to see a lady of her age and status still open to working with different sounds and styles.
Kee: You have worked with many artists in your career. Which was your favourite collaboration?
One of my favourite collaborations has been Dil Lutia with the great Jazzy B. It was produced by Sukshinder Shinda, who went to the same secondary school as me. Jazzy is just a great artist to work with. I loved recording the song and making the video. The song is a massive hit across the world to this day.
Jags Klimax: What has been the most expensive item of clothing you bought that you absolutely regret buying?
(Laughs) Not so much clothing but sunglasses. I have spent so much money on expensive sunglasses over the years, but for some reason they keep disappearing!
It got to a stage that I refused to buy any more and accepted the fact that maybe I just wasn’t meant to wear sunglasses. I regret wasting my money and refuse to buy expensive sunglasses again. I’m just gonna take someone else’s.
Sanj C: How did it feel to be the first Asian artist to break into the reggae scene and open doors for others?
It feels great to be one of the first Asian artists to break the reggae and mainstream charts, especially if it did inspire and help other artists to do the same. The message is that we can be a part of anything that we want as long as it’s done from the heart and for the right reasons.
H Dhami: Having achieved so much in the music industry globally, what do you think has been your most testing and challenging obstacle to date?
The start of my career was very challenging as I had success really quickly with seven top 40 hits in the British charts in just a few years, but I knew very little about the industry then.
I had to learn about the industry, labels, publishing and management, and it wasn’t easy. That is the reason why I encourage young people to study the industry as well as develop their talents because there is a lot to learn, which might be the reason why you succeed or fail in the business.
Rishi Rich: Where did you get your name from?
I got my name Apache from a reggae artist that I always loved called Supa Cat, who was ‘The wild Apache from Jamaica’. The ‘Indian’ part is because I’m Indian, so you get Apache Indian. God bless you Rishi, we need to do some more work together bro! Respects to all your success.
Raxstar: Which of all the songs you have written are you most proud of?
I am actually very proud of a new song that I have written called Election Crisis. It wasn’t easy to write but the results are great, I’m glad it has been received well.