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#BBCProms: “Asian pop music is losing its authenticity in the pursuit of cool” – Naughty Boy

Sought-after young Pakistani-origin music producer Shahid Khan – AKA Naughty Boy – has spoken of feeling the pressure of ahead of his much-anticipated debut at the BBC Proms tonight.

Khan, who has produced for such big names as Sam Smith, Emeli Sande, Tinie Tempah and Professor Greene, says one way of dealing with that pressure is by reaching into his childhood.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Front Row programme: “I was feeling the pressure, because I don’t want to be the first British Asian at the classical Proms and not fulfill all expectations.  Initially I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to do it because I was a bit scared thinking ‘are they sure they’ve asked the right person?’

Khan, 30, said his set will include a re-imagining of the timeless Bollywood classic ‘Kabhi Kabhie’ from the 1976 movie of the same name – a movie which has special significance for the producer.

“The songs I am doing are from Bollywood films I grew up watching.  I don’t know what it’s like now.  I understand it’s more mixed with western music whereas the Bollywood I grew up on was the romance era.  That’s the Bollywood I remember and that’s what excites me the most.

“’Kabhi Kabhie’ is one of my mum and dad’s favourite films.  They used to always watch that film.  Both of the songs I’ve got are from Yash Chopra films.  The other one which I actually grew up on is ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’.  I just think the songs represent something for me but also lyrically they represent an era that has been lost an era that was so poetic”, Khan says.

That poetry, he says, is being lost in the pursuit of “cool”.

“I think Asian popular music has lost it’s some of its authenticity and I think it’s because it’s trying to conform to trying to be cooler and more western”.

And, Khan says, he would love to do a Bollywood score.

“I think my more natural next step is to do something for a Bollywood film, write a score but you can’t rush into these things.  I’m just waiting to be asked.  But I would really love it to be the type I grew up with in terms of story and melodrama.

Aside from Bollywood at the Proms, Khan will perform an orchestral version of ‘La La La’ the song he produced for Grammy-winner Sam Smith.

The producer will also be joined by his other favourite muse, Emeli Sande.

“I initially asked Emily to sing a Bollywood song and she was up for it but I think she got a bit scared because she doesn’t speak the language and she didn’t want people to think she’s not doing it justice so you know we went with one of our songs but you know if we had more time to plan I would have loved that”, Khan said.

While the “purists” have been up in arms at Bollywood encroaching upon the venerable Proms, it is yet another milestone in Khan’s stratospheric rise from fiddling around in the shed at his parent’s home in Watford to producing for some of the biggest names in the music business.

But, he still remains his mom and dad’s Naughty Boy.

“Their expectations are high but I’m still their little boy.   My mum and dad don’t understand everything, but I like the fact that they don’t, I like the fact that mum is always telling me to clean my room? 

“They come to my studio in Ealing sometimes on Sunday and I’ll cook for them or take them out for dinner.  I tidy up before she comes but she’ll still notice something and do the mum thing that’s the thing that keeps it normal”.


Naughty Boy is joined by singers Benny Dayal, Palak Muchhal, Emeli Sandé and Kanika Kapoor for a night of Bollywood and bhangra music, with the BBC Philharmonic – at the Royal Albert Hall, tonight at 10.15 pm.

Main image – courtesy of the BBC.



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