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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Singer, songwriter, music producer-director, rapper and actor Yo Yo Honey Singh spent New Year's Eve with his loyal fans from the UAE, performing at Bollywood Parks Dubai. Ahead of the highly anticipated concert, the popular star dropped into the Al Khaleej Today office for a chat.
Polite and composed and sporting dark glasses, Singh expressed a lot of love for his fans as well as his haters during the course of our conversation, saying controversies don't bother him as his intentions are good.
He also sang a bit of his popular hit Brown Rang, to the delight of the Al Khaleej Today Facebook Live audience. "My favourite song is dedicated to Dubai, shot in Dubai, that was my first single - Brown Rang. And with everybody's blessings, it went to number one," he said. Excerpts from our conversation with Singh:
With stars like Badshah and Bruno Mars performing on NYE here, if you had a chance, who would you like to see?
Any day, Bruno Mars. He's a legend, and on another level. Why I like Bruno Mars is that he's not a rap, blues or an R&B artist, he's a commercial pop singer. I love his music, his vocals, his lyrics. If you ask me who I want to collaborate with internationally, it would be him!
What is it about an audience that puts you off?
Nothing. They always love me. I've never had any experience like that. They all love me and give me a big response for my songs.
Punjabi fusion music has become very popular over a period of time. When did you first notice that it was becoming popular and that you wanted to be a part of it?
I grew up listening to Malkit Singh and Apache Indian, that was an era of singles and private albums. Then Bollywood took over and they started making commercial songs. Also, lots of international songs became popular, people started listening to Akon, Enrique Iglesias and more. So I observed that if we give people international music, with desi lyrics, they are going to love it. And they liked it!
Who are your favorites in Bollywood? Do you have any favourite singers or songs?
Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, and among new age singers, it's Sonu Nigam and Arijit Singh.
You have acted in a couple of films as well. What are your plans for music and movies in the future?
For 2020, I have planned a lot of singles. I want to bring the independent music scene to another level. I'm giving songs in films as well, but 2020 is going to be big for my massive singles. I just shot a video in Dubai as well, in November. We are going to release that in February. So we are shooting videos back to back. We are going to give more than 7-8 singles, plus Bollywood songs as well. So, 2020 is going to be big!
We saw the behind-the-scenes shoot from Makhna, and it seems like a lot of work. You went to Cuba. What can you tell us about it?
That was crazy. My team - my crew - it took us 8 months (to complete the shoot). We didn't have Internet, we didn't have much stuff over there. We decided to get a Latin American director since we were shooting there so it wouldn't be that much trouble. We went over there and it was another level, it was crazy, people are so humble and amazing. It was a tough job, but we did it, and people loved it.
2019 has been a crucial year for you. You won the Best Music Director Award at IIFA. How do you feel when you look back at the last 12 months?
2019 was amazing. Very creative, very supportive and very positive. IIFA is a big thing, you know? I got my first IIFA, and I was so happy!
What's your biggest takeaway from 2019? It could be from your songs, or your relationship with people in the industry...
I think the best thing in any relationship is to keep it clear and transparent. If you want to say something, say it straight up.
What are your thoughts on social media, on which you are quite active?
I didn't start Instagram for a while because I thought it was very personal, it's not for an artist. My digital team said if I wanted to connect with the youth, I have to be on Instagram. Now, I'm loving Instagram! It's crazy, you can share every hour, every day of your life with your fans.
Is there anyone whose account you stalk at night when you can't sleep?
No, I just watch Netflix!
You came back from a bit of a break in your career, and recently you were also in the news because people felt that lyrics to a certain song was a bit controversial. So how do you handle all this. How do you react to these things?
I don't know why people are questioning the lyrics of my songs. I never meant to hurt anybody. But you know, you can't make everybody happy. And I love my critics. I love my haters as well. Stay happy, stay positive!
Yo Yo' s Message for KT readers
"Stay happy, party a lot, listen to lots of music, listen to my music. Best of luck to everybody. 2020 is going to be big and nice and happy for everyone. My best wishes to one of my favourite persons from Dubai, the one and only Suhail Galadari. I love him, and he knows that. Big love to Suhail bhai."
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