CJSW Profile: Desi Vibes

Rup Dhawliwal takes to the air every Tuesday with Desi Vibes a show that provides CJSW listeners with a unique mix of Bhangra, a type of Indian folk music that has gained international attention in the last 50 years.

Gauntlet: Could you talk about the music you play on your show?

Rup Dhaliwal: The type of music that I play is a generally a really energetic type of folk music that originates from the northern part of India, in Punjab. It’s something that started out in northern India, but it’s kind of moved. The ’60s and ’70s saw bands from the United Kingdom set the stage for the Bhangra scene which is the type of music that I play, and it’s slowly become this kind of huge international music sensation.

G: Has the genre changed as it’s grown?

RP: Absolutely, it’s become a fusion of East and West, especially with the involvement of people in our generation. It’s also become a fusion of traditional folk music and if you listen to my show it’s mixed with reggae, sometimes it’s mixed with pop, there’s even Punjabi rap, so you’ll even hear that on my show.

G: How do you identify those different genres as belonging to the same group? What elements are shared?

RP: If you pay attention, there are a lot of common instruments that we use in Bhangra music. There’s the dhol that is a folk drum that sets the stage. The tabla is a smaller drum that is quite popular and the tumbi is a string instrument, which was created by one of the pioneers of this kind of music. Themes too: it’s folk music, so it’s a commentary on what’s going on in our society and it’s an expression of identity for Sikh people and Indian people. So you’ll see a lot of similarities in the music, whether it’s slow, fast, old or new.

G: Do people call in and get involved with requests?

RP: Yah, for sure. Some of my best requests are when people don’t understand what I’m saying or the music is saying, but they say, ‘We totally dig that track you played last week. This is what it sounded like.’ and they kind of translate it to english and I totally get it. Those are the best requests, they are not understanding it but they’re feeling it.

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