Navv Inder: In Conversation With This Music Sensation Of ‘Wakhra Swag’ Fame

Ever since he broke into the Punjabi music scene with his ‘Wakhra Swag’ in 2015, Navv Inder has garnered a sizeable female fan following. It came as no surprise then that his last release about two months ago was dedicated, in his words, “to all the female fans in particular.” So far he has been known only for his completely different combination of mixing urban and desi music in the chartbusters, Wakhra Swag and Att Tera Yaar. The new age performer launched ‘Tu Meri Ki Lagdi’, written by Navi Kamboz and composed by Mr Nakulogic, Tu Meri Ki Lagdi, with its folksy-meets-urban vibe has struck a chord across age groups. Talking about the song, Navv said:

“Yes, people would say Tu Meri Ki Lagdi is a different song from my previous singles. It is meant to be different! I want to explore all genres of singing. I wanted to break the myth that Punjabi music is only on high scales and notes. I have sung in a very low scale here. The song has a lilting score and a softness and the music isn’t what one expects out of a typical Punjabi song.”

Navv Inder is not content resting on his past laurels and is readying for the release of his next track – his version of legendary folk singer Surjit Bindrakhiya’s iconic chartbuster, ‘Yaar Bolda’. 

Here is a freewheeling chat with the heartthrob…

From being an MBA to being a singer, what has the journey been like so far?

Navv Inder: I chose to follow my inherent passion and favoured music over number crunching despite my MBA in Finance. Close on the heels of Wakhra Swag, my breakthrough single in 2015, I released another chartbuster, ‘Att Tera Yaar’, that has crossed 15 million hits on Youtube (and still counting). A lot of people say my voice and songs are the right mix of modern sounds and folk notes, but I only make sure I am true to my own self when it comes to my songs. My songs are a way to introducing myself. The lyrics have to make sense to me before I can expect others to make sense of them. 

It is perhaps this philosophy that drives me to keep doing stuff that is different from what my contemporaries and peers are doing. I am not in any race or competition. I am flying in a different sky and my aims are different. There is no club, no place in the world where people do not dance to Punjabi beats. I want to take that pride to the next level. I want to prove that there is no genre I cannot do. If I did a Wakhra Swag, an Att Tera Yaar and a soulful tribute to Bhagat Singh, I also sang a soft romantic ballad, ‘Tu Meri Ki Lagdi’, sung in low notes. I am also going to be releasing a few songs mixing Punjabi with a lot of international musical genres.

I hope to be able to release a song in every musical genre conceivable – but sung in Punjabi or Hindi.

Who inspired you?

Navv Inder:  My tabla teacher in 8th grade, Jagan Sir, was the first one to tell me that my voice had a distinctive tonal quality. He encouraged me to pursue singing as a career, saying I could go a long way. I think my impressionistic mind took the remark seriously and I can never repay what I owe him. 

Anything worth achieving has its own share of struggles. I have had my share too. I have learnt from my mistakes and also learnt to be a bit more worldly wise. I was too naïve when I started out and released my first song, Wakhra Swag. My philosophy has always been to do what is ‘right’ rather than what will ‘sell’ or is popular. My way to live has been constantly to be in ‘chardi kalaan’ – moving forward, forever buoyant. I only started singing 3-4 years ago, but the kind of love I have got from my fans, not just in India, but across the world is something that people can only dream of. It has been a very fruitful journey that has only left me richer in experiences, friends, learning and of course gratitude.

I am more aware now of how people can be and therefore want to focus only on my particular brand of music. That is the one thing I am confident about because it is nothing like what is being churned out on a daily basis my performers, musicians and rappers.

Coming to your latest project, Yaar Bolda is such an iconic song. How are you revisiting it?

Navv Inder: For me, Surjit Bindrakhiya ji is a legend – and I am sure there are many others who feel the same way. His voice texture, proper pronunciation of even theth Punjabi words, his attitude and the way he conducted himself – wow, I could just go on and on! Right from Gabru Gulab Varga to Dupatta tera satt rang da and Jatt Di Pasand  – I cannot think of any song of his that I have not literally grown up with. So my version of Yaar Bolda  is a distillate of how this legend has inspired me. The only similarity is perhaps the hook phrase or word Yaar Bolda. We have changed it completely – even in terms of the lyrics – which have been written by Navi Kamboz. Even the music, done by Mr Nakulogic, is a contemporary hip-hop beat that is a combination of low notes and high notes. 

I really have worked very hard on this song and I sincerely hope people will like it and Bindrakhiya saab will bless me from wherever he is.

And I would like to let you in on the real inspiration behind me wanting to do Yaar Bolda again.  I was once humming Surjit Bindrakhia’s Yaar Bolda walking with my brother, and these youngsters came up to me and asked me to sing the song for them and translate it. It was a very happy experience for me. It was then that the idea of doing a contemporary Yaar Bolda occurred to me. 

How accepting do you think the audience will be to this kind of music ?

Navv Inder: The audience today is definitely receptive. The tech revolution has definitely had a huge role to play in exposing people to different kinds of music from all over the world. They may take a bit of time to appreciate different sounds and music. I grew up listening to the legends of Punjabi music – Gurdas Maan Saab, Babbu Maan and others in the midst of folk music and songs. I love the sounds of traditional instruments – like tumbi or sarangi or algozey – and have always made sure that my songs incorporate them. Having said that, I love listening to Chris Brown and Drake as well. Perhaps this is the confluence I am aiming at, with my music. My music is something that is rooted in tradition and yet contemporary. So I think it does appeal to a large spectrum of listeners. 

What are your future plans? Is an album on the cards?

Navv Inder: This has been a very busy year for me and I hope to keep it that way. I am hoping there will be a song almost every month from me. Besides Tu Meri Ki Lagdi, there’s lots of very different work coming out. I want to do all that is possible for a singer to do! I have only just started, to be honest. But I am happy I am already creating new things that are good enough to inspire people to ape my work. The idea is to keep experimenting and not get confined to a single stereotyped slot just because it is commercially viable. I want to better myself with each song that I do. This has been a very busy year for me and I hope to keep it that way. I am hoping there will be a song almost every month from me. If I do an album, it will be a mix of all that I can do and more. So don’t expect just a club song, or a folk ditty or just EDM. I would present my album as all of me!

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Navv Inder: May be holidaying on my yacht somewhere in the Mediterranean (laughs)! But on a serious note, wherever I am or whatever I will be doing, it would be nothing short of the best. Second is not an option for me!


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