Interview with producer Manni Sandhu
I'm back with another interview and I have to say this was probably my best interview in a while. Anyone can tell just by reading Manni Sandhu's responses to my questions that he has a true passion for music which is clearly displayed in his work as well. From 'Door Ni Kulne' to' Sona' to "Friday' and now with 'Makhaul' he never disappoints his fans. I had the pleasure of interviewing Manni once before on my radio show and now we're back with some updates one year later!
Where do you get the inspiration for every track you do? What was your inspiration for 'Makhaul'?
"It’s different every time. Sometimes I could be chilling with a singer and we randomly come up with a composition/lyrics. Sometimes a singer could approach me with a song already written that needs composing and recording – or it could even be a concept that I get a writer to complete, to which I then compose and approach a singer to record. I guess that’s what makes music special – every track has its own story. With Makhaul I met Akhil randomly in a studio in India – I took his number down and we stayed in contact. One day he sent me a clip of himself singing Makhaul and I was really feeling the lyrics/composition. At this stage I never thought this would be the lead single from my album, but once we recorded it and I did the music a lot of people around me were feeling the track. We always knew it wasn’t a commercial track but that was never something that concerned us – our main aim was to bring something fresh to the table. It’s crazy how the world works – if for some reason that day I wasn’t at the studio, me and Akhil would have never met and none of this would be happening right now."
Which aspects of your songs do you believe make them unique and different from other tracks? What sets you apart from other producers in the industry?
"When I produce a track the process from the very beginning to the end is completed by myself in my own studio. I don’t go to professional music studios where there’s an engineer available to tweak sounds with expensive equipment to give me a better a sound. I’ve had to learn all of this on my own and it’s taken years for me to get my head around it. This experience has given me the ability to have a musical vision and be able to re-create it on my own. I like to think out of the box and make a song an experience rather than just following a standard structure – to me a song should be like a movie, there should always be something going on and full of emotion."
What was the process you went through to turn the idea for 'Makhaul' into another hit Manni Sandhu track?
"Be creative and different in each and every aspect. I always try and make sure my music’s completely different to what’s currently being released in the industry. We also work our assess off. I’d be up until 4-5am producing the track, getting Akhil to re-do parts of the vocals, driving myself insane whilst mixing the track, going out to Punjab to do a 3 day videoshoot that would finish in the early hours every day. My brother Jazz would be contacting these major companies in Punjab and waking up at 5-6am to talk to them, handling all the business, doing all our PR, getting the track out to the right people, dealing with the video directors. There’s probably about 10-15 different versions of the Makhaul video. The directors would send over a cut which me and Jazz would sit and make changes to. Sometimes I would have to actually edit bits myself and send it back to them to show how we wanted it. We may not release a track every other month, but when we do we literally put our blood, sweat and tears into it. We’re very passionate about what we do."
A couple people mistook you as a singer in the past. What was your initial reaction and how did you handle the situation?
"It was annoying and still is. I always ma
de the effort to never mime in my videos so people wouldn’t think I’m the singer but that completely failed! My mates had a good laugh about it though – once at Amritsar airport this guy approached me and asked me to sing. My brother and Sangra Vibes kept saying “Yeah Manni, go on sing a song.” I was so pissed off I didn’t talk to them the whole flight back. I guess all I can do to overcome this is carry on putting out clips of me producing and playing instruments to show I’m involved in the creation of the music. Either that, or just become a singer (joke!)."
When you started out as a producer, did you think that you would become as well known as you are now?
"I’ve never done music for fame and never will. A lot of people might say that but you need to look at my history. Before my first track 'Door Ni Kulne', I was producing music for 6 years and releasing songs/mixtapes online. I never used to get attention from people then but it didn’t bother me because all I wanted to do was release music and for people to listen to it. I’m not even gonna say I’m well-known now because none of that stuff concerns me – all I want to do is release music, and for people to listen, support, and enjoy. When popularity starts playing a part, things just become complicated and music isn’t as enjoyable."
What is your favorite instrument or piece of equipment and why?
"It has to be the harmonium. Everything starts there – from composing music pieces to songs, it’s the base of every track."
What do you believe is the key to success in the Punjabi music industry?
"Be original and have a story."
Do you receive a lot of support from your family? Also, do they treat you any differently now that you've attained all of this fame?
"My family have always supported my music – from day one. They’re really proud of me – whenever I release a track they’re always calling up family members and telling them to check it out. I don’t really like attention so when we’re at family’s house I try and avoid talking about music – but they’re always getting their phones out and trying to show people my video! So embarrassing! They definitely don’t treat me any different – I’m still the youngest son getting shouted at for making a mess around the house."
What is your biggest pet peeve about the Punjabi music industry?
"People have been saying what’s wrong with the Punjabi music industry for years and years now – I remember reading interviews when I was a kid and people were talking about it then. The fact is that there’s always going to be something wrong with the industry. Me talking about it and complaining is just going to bring negativity towards me and make me look bitter. I think everything has a way of unfolding in the end. The artists that were releasing crap 10 years ago aren’t around now – only the talented ones from back then are. If you’re talented and you’re genuinely making good music now, you’ve got longevity on your side – you’ll be around for years whereas other people that do things for a couple of weeks of fame won’t. Let them have their couple of months of shine, and focus on the bigger picture I say."
Are there any new projects coming up soon that you can tell us about?
"I’m working on a very exciting project. It’s called “Welcome to the Future” and it features a host of new talent from Punjab. I’ve been experimenting with my sound on this one so I’m really looking forward to people hearing it. A completely fresh album with new vocalists, and a new production sound – can’t wait for people to check it out. That should be dropping in July – after that I’m going to try and completely my album ‘Against All Odds’. There’s a lot going on – hopefully everyone that’s supported me from day one stick around to enjoy the ride!"