Ikky Talks “80 90”, Partnership With Warner, Punjabi Music & 4N Label

Warner has been at the forefront of showcasing the diversity of their artists and never shied away from projects like their latest single release, “80 90” by artist Ikky with Garry Sandhu and Amrit Maan. Warner and Ikwinder Singh have teamed up in their creation of 4N Records. The partnership is lead by Indian/Canadian producer, Ikky (Ikwinder Singh).

With the launch of his latest single ’80 90′ on May 28th, the world can take a deep look at Ikky as he highlights the importance of bringing his flare to Punjabi music for the world to enjoy. As the genre grows and borders seem to merge his Canadian and Indian cultures tend to work in his benefit of creating vibes for everyone to be drawn into.

Ikky also shared his story with us in detail of what brought out his interest of music, how he started recording, experiences and much more about this project and meaning to the name 4N.

XMPL: What go you into music and what made you go the producer route instead of the singer route?

Ikky: Funny thing is, me and my brother we actually started out as singers. When we were about 6 years old we started learning music, you know like vocal lessons. From there it grew, we were singing on stages and concerts, Indian festivals. The festivals had bands hosting the concerts anyways, so we would be able to sing over them. Booking a band for performances, and we were doing 2-3 performances a weekends wasn’t the most financial way to do things. We were like 12 years old at the time, so my dad he just decided to get me a program and bought me a couple of loops and said “let’s try this”. Since then I’ve just been on it, this is my calling, producing, listening to audio and making audio instead of being a vocal presence in this game.

What inspirations do you draw and bring into Punjabi Music?

So for me obviously I’m a 2000’s baby. So I’ve been listening to guys like Drake, Migos, J. Balvin, everything that’s really poppin’ in the now, is my legendary status. When it comes to stuff like that song ‘Difference’, that has like a New York Boom Bap style, that one I’m really inspired by Dr. Dre. I’m like the generation behind him, I’ve been inspired by the business around him, his beats weren’t just hard beats but they were beats you can play in the clubs as well. Anything that shows I’m Canadian in India is the best way to say it, because the way I look, the way I dress is traditional. The thing that makes me unique is that I can create music for Indian people that sounds “Western”.

From what I know about Indian music, it seems like it’s more about the melody opposed to the drum line in Hip-Hop. What I noticed about your music, you tend to bring both worlds together. When working with other Indian artists how do they adapt to that sound?

I have this one saying that everybody is good at something and not good at something else. Me personally I’m not a writer, I can’t write lyrics. I know when I’m working with someone, I let them do the thing they’re good at, whether it’s lyrics or melody. Since I give out that kind of respect, most times I’ve been given that respect back. I’ve been established as that guy around the industry, “he does what he does, and you got to perform as well as he does.”

I think adaption is more on my end because they might be asking about a flavor that I have never done. Like ‘Yeah Baby’ was something I never touched. That Latin vibe was something I have never done, so the expectations were on me, “is able to create something here”. That’s the challenge for myself, am I able to create as this guys is writing as fast as he is. I have to be able to adapt.

Even when I listen to your music, I can hear the Hip-Hop essence behind it. When you show your Canadian friends and family and your Indian friends and family, how do they react when listening to your music that merges both cultures?

It’s actually just fun, because these guys look at me and right off the bat for people in India it’s “oh he’s Canadian.” For Canadians until I start speaking they think I have an accent, I’m from India. Both side actually enjoy it because the Canadian kids as long as we understand the lyrics and they fit in the right place we love that element of it. In india the lyrics have always been there but the music now is sounding naturally and organically western. To them it’s something new and different, and both parties have fun.

So 4N is your label, partnered with Warner & Coalition music. Can you explain what 4N is and how that partner ship works?

Really 4N is a representation of the whole world, you know world music. All music outside of North America is know as “World”, so to me we all like foreign clothes, we all like foreign cars. So why not have music that’s all foreign, but it speaks to Canadian kids and American kids.

That’s where it all started, I’m managed by Coalition for the record company and for our global partners we had Warner Canada come in and that linked Warner India, Warner UK, just globally trying to link the world together. It’s basically just that, that’s what 4N means, it’s in the name.

The name 4N (foreign) might be self explanatory but for me there is a deeper meaning behind it. Have you heard about the Golden Temple? The Golden temple has 4 doors, it means anybody around the world is invited into the temple. That was also the play on the word, so 4 and N worked as the 4 entrances.

This partnership is still fairly new, what expectations do you have for this project and what’s the vision?

I was 17 years old when my first break through song came out, ‘Diamond’ I think it sits at about 300 something million at this point. It was fun, I was known, I was making great music, but I wasn’t making great music for my country. Not everyone in this country outside of Indians were appreciating the music I was making per say. Obviously for me one of the goals was you should be know in your own country at least. Latin music has made it to all the countries, Indian music has taken over it’s region and I was thinking why can’t we just make this a global thing. Really my expectations are working hard at this thing, whether it’s me and my artist, Warner and Coalition. Working had to make this Punjabi sound known all around the world not just India.

With your single “80 90” releasing on the 28th, can you tell us what to expect?

One of the expectations should be connecting that bridge between Punjabi music and North American music. For years the bridge between North American music and Punjabi music has been dumbed down to 80’s and 90’s music. For me that’s not the most acceptable thing I want to hear, I’m a 2000’s baby. This song was made as I was coming off the Gardener, so Canadian vibes. That’s what I want people to get from this, you can drive on the free way where ever you are as long as you play the song you’re in a different world.

What advice would you give younger Indian artists who would want to get involved with North American music?

As repetitive as it sounds it’s just hard work and networking. I was talking about it the other day, I used to search up videos on how to make it in the music industry, and they would tell you certain things that are vague but the most important the would say every time was networking. It seems like you can’t force networking but for Indian artists that want to work with artists outside of Canada there is no better time than now. You can literally talk to anyone across the world, and my biggest pet peeve is trying to go for the larger artists. Keep working, keep making tangible music and you’ll always find someone down to work with you.

I’m going to leave the floor open for you to give us any type of statement you want.

Globalize Punjabi music, normalize Punjabi music and we’re up next!

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