Thursday, September 16, 2004

Urban Music Seminar 2004 - 1st Br-Asian Panel - Biggest Yet!

Urban Music Seminar 2004 – The Biggest yet UMS brings the 1st Br-Asian panel, on board

By Ashanti OMkar

The Urban Music Seminar (UMS) was an incentive brought about by family man and ace keyboardist, Kwame Kwaten (of D’Influence, who discovered Shola Ama and many other well known artistes), often known as an ‘unsung hero’, for his pioneering work with the British music industry, particularly concentrating on the Black (AKA Urban) styles of music. The seminar was set up as a free event, where many like minded youngsters came together, with panellists of high musical calibre, discussing and brain storming on questions like – ‘how to become a successful artiste’ and ‘how to sustain steady growth in the music industry’, an industry which is known for it’s fickle nature, an industry which is so cut-throat and vicious in it’s game.

Last year, the phenomenal success of the UMS, due to the fact that so many big names in music came to support the cause and give much valuable advice, means that for the 2 day event at the prestigious Royal Festival Hall, on 18th and 19th September, about 30,000 people will cross the many stalls and halls available and many will attend the actual seminars, which is where the real value is.

For the first time since 1998, when the 1st such seminar was held, Asian music has it’s very own panel, to guide youngsters who want to get into the music industry, to take the most important steps, as necessary. A taboo within Asian families, children are not often encouraged into taking up music or the arts as a career, a taboo which is changing as the years go on, with the influx of Asian artistes, who are making it not just in the industry, but making a true mark on the mainstream. With Asian artistes like Raghav and Punjabi Hit Squad being nominated for MOBO (music of black origin) awards, it is not at all surprising that the UMS 2004, with is in conjunction with Damon Dash’s Roc-A-Fella records has also decided to incorporate a splendid team of Asian knowledge to impart onto the visitors.

Last year, the presence of super producer extraordinaire, Rishi Rich, chart busting Jay Sean (who was a relative new face at the time, having just had the hit, ‘Dance with you’ with Juggy D), and Rishi’s Manager, Billy Grant were on the panels, to give an Asian perspective and BBC’s Nihal was right there on stage, doing his fine comparing, at the main panel, which consisted of Big Brovas, Ms Dynamite, Terri Walker and many more British acts. Last year’s UMS was also enhanced with the appearance of Damon Dash, Jay Z’s partner and owner of ROC Records, Kelly Rowland and Solange Knowles (Sister to Beyonce). This year, Damon Dash is heavily involved in the seminar, from having seen the keenness of the young attendees and their phenomenal potential.

Step in Moiz Vas of Br-Asian, the man behind Glastonbury’s 1st British Asian event and the pioneer of the Br-AMA’s, the music awards ceremony which recognises and rewards Asian artistes. He and his excellent team have put together a panel of people, consisting of Moiz himself and Nav Sagoo of Br-Asian, BBC 1’s Nihal (not just a DJ, but the guy who knows his Hip Hop, RnB and Asian music in and out), BBC’s Tim Kash (front man of Top Of The Pops), Raj Roma (CEO of Birmingham based family record company, Envy Records, which concentrates on Asian music), Raghav’s Manager, Nyrone and music producer Mushtaq (many of Raghav’s ear-catching productions have him to thank), Mark (the original Desi Goree, from Punjabi Hit Squad and BBC 1xtra), Eastern Eye’s Amar Singh and last but not least, Ritu, the only female on the panel, the lady behind the fantastic Sister India, who does her Dj-ing on BBC’s Asian Network.

This year’s UMS is set to be the biggest yet, with an array of knowledge from the industry poured into this one event – rumoured to be there are Matthew Knowles (Beyonce’s Dad and Manager), Kanye West, Shystie, veteran Mica Paris, Lemar, Shola Ama and Nina Jayne. The women in industry panel is to have people like June Sarapong of Channel 4 and the talents of designers like Wale Adeyemi are to be discussed and spoken about, in the Fashion, Styling and Photography panel.

Founder of the UMS, Kwame said: “Taking this step is long overdue cementing the two worlds which really are one. We can see Br-Asian setting the industry standard in years to come…” Moiz Vas, MD of Br-Asian commented: “ultimately my personal agenda is to help break more Asians into decision-making roles within the mainstream record industry…I am keen to focus on this area because the key to sustaining and developing our crossover success remains here”.

The follow up - post UMS article, as published in The Asian Post is:

Br-Asian propagates Urban Asian music; with the ‘Respect is Due’ Awards and Urban Music Seminar

Text by Ashanti OMkar
Photo by Akin Falope


Urban music, one we discuss in many forms, something that has now transcended from being just ‘Black’ music, into that of all other cultures, especially in the last year, one that has embraced and brought to the mainstream. This year, a revolutionary one for British Asians, where British Asian music and Urban music have definitely intermingled, thanks to the amazing minds of Moiz Vas and Nav Sagoo, of Br-Asian, who have pioneered many wonderful incentives to achieve this, including the Br-Asian Asian Music Awards.

In an exclusive exchange, with the usually quiet Nav Sagoo, he passionately has lots to articulate: “Presenting this year's first ever Br-Asian Panel at the urban music seminar highlighted the importance of British Asian music and it's consumers, in the UK. For us and our scene it symbolised a landmark feature in the history of the UMS and indeed in the history of British Asian music, as finally the average British Asian consumer has been recognised by the mainstream, albeit ‘Urban’, and proved to have a real say in what is happening in the British mainstream music Industry. It's no coincidence that in the past two years or so the emergence of the 'Desi' sound into the mainstream has become too large to ignore, so much so that we have seen top ten chart successes from artists like Panjabi MC, Jay Sean and Raghav. I myself have witnessed the fantastic reaction that these Asian acts get from ‘White’, ‘Black’, ‘Asian’ and even ‘Oriental’ live audiences. It becomes all about the music and the very thought of ethnicity doesn't even cross your mind, Good music is good music, and if you can relate to it then all the better.”

Nav expresses: “Bringing us back to the UMS though, let's put it simply, British Asian kids spend a lot of money on buying into the urban lifestyle whether it be music, fashion or otherwise, they also have access to an Asian music scene that a few years ago was only available in niche areas in Asian conurbations. This access has been broadened not by chance but by the sheer buying power that the British Asian youth have. And today you can walk into approx 10% of the 300 HMV stores and purchase Desi music; it’s progress! What we have to do is make sure that this access continues to spread as we haven't reached our peak yet but all the signs are there that we can be around as a scene for many years to come.”

Nav goes on to add: “For as long as I can remember we as young British Asians have tried to fit in somewhere, it’s human nature after all, the closest music we as a generation had access to that had any kind of street credibility was Hip-Hop. Today, Brit-Asian consumers are talking with their wallets and if money talks then the ‘Brown pound’ is singing and rapping its lungs out right now! Our main concern is to keep it as real as possible and avoid the bandwagon effect which could quite easily kill our scene off before it has a chance to really make it's permanent mark.”

To put the icing on the cake, Br-Asian sponsored 2 important awards at the fantastic ROC UMS ‘Respect is Due’ awards ceremony, where The Mentor picked up Rishi Rich’s award for ‘Up and coming Mainstream producer’ and Bobby Friction and Nihal picked up the ‘Best Radio Show Production’ awards.

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