Ikky Singh’s Big Punjabi Dream in Toronto

The first song Ikwinder Singh produced, Gurnam Bhullar’s Diamond since 2018, notched more than 500 million views on YouTubeWhile other tracks by great Punjabi musicians he has worked with since then have collected another 500 million streams online.

But Singh, who grew up in Toronto’s Rexdale neighborhood and is popularly known as Ikky, isn’t satisfied.

“Growing up in the city, you have a little bit of everything. You have all kinds of culture, all kinds of diversity, and now I’m at that stage where I did well in India and it’s me trying to cross to this side of the world, ”he said in a video interview.

(Other tracks Singh has produced include Difference by Amrit Maan, Bambiha Bole by Amrit Maan and Sidhu Moose Wala, and Yes babyand by Garry Sandhu.)

Ikwinder Singh produced Amrit Maan’s Difference (with Sonia Maan), the music video featuring the Toronto skyline.

Singh and his management company, Coalition Music, have secured some help in this regard, partnering last year with Warner Music in Canada and India to boost their label, 4N Records (pronounced foreign), which released its first song in last may.

The deal means that Warner will fund Singh and 4N’s efforts to find and hire artists working in Punjabi hip-hop, pop and Bhangra music and help them create songs that appeal to both a core audience in India and the Punjabi diaspora. and others around the world.

“That’s my way of globalizing this language, the music and everything that comes out of Punjab,” he says, referring to the Sikh majority region that straddles India and Pakistan.

Ikwinder Singh in his home study during an interview with National Observer of Canada. Screenshot

He quotes a Jay-Z Remix from 2002 Panjabi MC song Watch out for the boys (from Mundian to Bach Ke) as proof that a hybrid style can achieve widespread commercial and critical success.

Ikky Singh and his management company Coalition Music have enlisted help in this regard, joining last year with Warner Music in Canada and India to boost their label, 4N Records.

“That was solid proof 20 years ago that this was something, that the bridge between East and West could work,” Singh said.

The Warner deal also allows artists to get a bigger stake in any commercial success, with a royalty-sharing arrangement that is unusual in an industry where labels often pay artists and producers up-front and keep the royalties.

The young producer says he would very much enjoy the opportunity to collaborate with Toronto hip-hop star Drake, someone he admires for his business acumen and ability to integrate various musical styles (most notably dancehall and other Caribbean styles) into his work. .

“You want to have growth for the rest of your career, you don’t want to peak and then go down again,” he said. “You want to grow every year. And I think that should not only be for an artist, but also for the industry, that every year this industry (of Punjabi music) grows more and more. “

Singh says Toronto is a logical place to build the scene outside of India, as she and Vancouver are home to the majority of Canada’s significant diaspora population.

But while the outside vision he brings has helped make the tracks he works on more modern and international, Singh says diaspora artists still struggle to break into the market.

“I personally think it’s that maybe we have one percent of an accent that is not entirely Punjabi, that might not resonate with everyone,” he said.

Morgan Sharp / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer


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