The Bhangra boys

Aug 16, 2012, 08:47 IST | Deepali Dhingra

Though the name Rhythm Dhol Bass (RDB) might not strike an instant chord, songs like Shera Di Kaum Punjabi (Speedy Singh), Paisa Paisa and Sadi Gali are chart-toppers. Kuldeep, Manjeet and Surjeet Ral are British- born brothers who began their musical journey by singing at the gurudwara.

Tragically, Kuldeep (Kuly), the eldest of the brothers died of brain tumour this year in May. CS spoke to Surj (Surjeet), the youngest brother about life without Kuly, globalising bhangra and music in general:

Who: Surj, the late Kuly and Manj 
What: On a song in the memory of their brother and globalising bhangra

In loving memory
As anyone can imagine, losing a brother is heartbreaking and sometimes feels unreal. But to lose a first born is something we don’t wish any parent to face, so as a family we have been quite supportive of each other, especially towards mum and dad. Kuly being the eldest brother, was the pioneer of RDB. He started and initiated most of the ideas that make RDB what it is today. Although we feel we have lost a brother, this legacy continues on through Manj and myself. His position has been retired; nobody will get his throne. At an early age, Kuly taught Manj all about creating music in the studio after which Manj developed his own unique RDB style of production. Together they had created these chart-topping hits you hear today. It’s now Manj’s and my own responsibility to keep the creativity flowing.

A song for our brother
This song originally came from two significant stages of its development. First is the music element, which Kuly had composed for an entirely different project, which was then revamped by Manj to suit the circumstance. Who knew then that we would end up using it for his memory? The second part was the lyrics of the song, which were written by our father at the time of Kuly’s passing, making it extremely sentimental.

Rooted in devotion
We were first influenced by our father who used to take us to the local gurudwara to accompany him on stage by playing the harmonium and tabla in front of the local community. It was then that we found a love for music and further developed it with our love for technology and started experimenting with westernised beats and bhangra sounds. Globalising bhangra wasn’t much of a struggle, as our music was something new for listeners. But it’s a challenge to further develop our sound to suit our ever-growing ambition to spread our sound.

On high notes
We have a few Bollywood projects that we are currently finishing off and we have a couple of big international collaborations. We also have a RDB album, which has been under construction for last three years.  

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