Mu­sic em­pow­ered me, and I knew this is where I be­longed

HARD KAUR

India Today - - SIMPLY PUNJABI - By Ekta Mar­waha

Her per­sonal be­liefs are as strong as her stage name. Hard Kaur blends Pun­jabi lyrics with Hip Hop and is hailed as the Queen of In­dian Hip Hop. The ‘ Ek Galassy’ girl talks about her jour­ney so far.

Q. How did Taran be­come Hard Caur?

A. Well, I was an in­no­cent girl from In­dia ( Kan­pur, UP) who moved to Birm­ing­ham, the United King­dom af­ter I lost my fa­ther in the 1984 anti- Sikh ri­ots. I was a naïve lit­tle In­dian girl who knew very lit­tle English, wasn’t too con­fi­dent and couldn’t re­late with most chil­dren at school. I was a tom boy and didn’t pay too much at­ten­tion to how I looked and I faced a lot of dis­crim­i­na­tion so racism. So, it wasn’t an easy tran­si­tion, but I then found mu­sic, par­tic­u­larly rap, that made me re­dis­cover my­self and vent out my frus­tra­tion. Q. What got you in­ter­ested in rap? A. Over there, peo­ple had their prej­u­dices about In­di­ans, also that our girls could only do bhangra or sing Pun­jabi pop songs, be­cause that’s what they would do dur­ing school per­for­mances. I wanted a break away from this stereo­type, and do some­thing dif­fer­ent. By this time I had started hang­ing out with a lot of Black girls

who I got con­nected with due to their mu­sic and dance. Rap and Hip hop were some­thing I be­gan to en­joy. I was in­tro­duced to reg­gae in 1993 and thor­oughly en­joyed it. That was how and where it all started. I would sing with th­ese girls, and it felt great. The mu­sic em­pow­ered me, and I knew this is where I be­longed. Q. What chal­lenges did you face in your ini­tial years as a rap­per?

A. Oh, a lot! From hear­ing things like, you have a “husky voice”, you’re an In­dian girl, they don’t rap, and so much more. I wanted to fight for ev­ery In­dian, ev­ery woman and show that even we could do this equally well. My big­gest in­spi­ra­tion was Queen Lat­ifa and ini­tially when we started singing we would rap to oth­ers mu­sic. The In­di­ans couldn’t get what I was do­ing and of­ten pass re­marks like nachan wali aa­gai and this isn’t good. But, I didn’t care. I hated that men­tal­ity and wanted a break­through. I told my mother I wasn’t scared of any one and wanted to rap. Then I started work­ing even harder. Started writ­ing what I felt, worked on my dic­tion, that needs to be re­ally good to rap and the flow needs to be there. Some songs even made my mother cry and that’s when I knew I was good at this.

I started per­form­ing at open mics, com­pet­ing with men and we would go on with­out a break. I got so many com­pli­ments and one was that you’re too good for an In­dian woman. That was when I de­cided I wanted to be an In­dia fe­male rap­per. Q. What made you in­fuse Pun­jabi lyrics and beats to rap?

A. While I en­joyed my mu­sic and be­gan per­form­ing glob­ally at gigs with Justin Tim­ber­lake and all th­ese big names, peo­ple from my com­mu­nity felt a dis­con­nect. Half of them were proud of what I did, while the oth­ers didn’t know what I was do­ing. How­ever, my only agenda was to make my mom proud as she al­ways sup­ported me. Even here she ran a small salon, sup­ported my stud­ies and did all she could to make me in­de­pen­dent. It was my time to give back. She too wanted me to shut th­ese peo­ple up, and that was when I de­cided to sing ‘ Ek Glassy’’ in 2007. I had com­pletely trans­formed for this song, I wore a short skirt, sang on al­co­hol, shook that booty, and peo­ple ac­tu­ally en­joyed it! I was amazed by the num­ber of calls I got, and so many peo­ple call­ing from In­dia that my mu­sic was do­ing well. I thought to my­self, when I do the right thing no one likes it, but when I do this, they all take pride in it! Q. What do you have to say about Pun­jabi mu­sic glob­ally? A. I don’t un­der­stand where the in­de­pen­dent artists have dis­ap­peared th­ese days. I am dis­ap­pointed to say that I get to hear a lot of crap from Pun­jabi rap­pers. They’re all try­ing to copy Honey, but land up mak­ing a fool of them­selves. That ways I want to com­pli­ment Honey Singh for what he’s do­ing. His mu­sic has gone vi­ral glob­ally, and it be­cause of his dic­tion, flow and of course hard work. Q. How did you reach Bol­ly­wood? A. I came to In­dia for a per­for­mance in 2006, and that was when Shankar Ma­hade­van and VishalShekhar got in touch with me and asked me to meet them the next time I vis­ited. They com­pli­mented me for my mu­sic. The rest is his­tory. You’ve all heard those songs and danced to them.

Real name

TARAN KAUR

at ‘ Bol­ly­wood 100 in Birm­ing­ham’ fes­ti­val 2013 for her spe­cial con­tri­bu­tion

to Bol­ly­wood

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