Taz 296

10 Questions with Taz

Taz performs as the headliner on Friday August 17 at the Vancouver Sawan Mela alongside hometown favourites:  En Karma, Luv Randhawa, Raju Johal, Shivangi Bhayana and Manraj Hassan.

1.       Many people want to know the answer to this burning question:  why the change in name from Johnny Zee to StereoNation?

The name change was a conscious decision in the sense of musically, I had moved on from the Johnny Zee sound & image. I did not want to be labelled or known for just one style of music.

2.       When was the last time you visited Vancouver?  What do you have planned from your musical performance scheduled for August 17 at the Vancouver Sawan Mela?

It’s certainly been a long time ago, maybe 9 years if not more. I am really looking forward to seeing my fans, as they have always been very loyal to me. I am looking forward to giving them an electrifying performance from some of my old classic hits to new songs from the new album ‘DESI & U KNOW IT’ too. Melas are always a lot of fun to play as there is a beautiful family atmosphere and people are genuinely out to have a good fun day out. Artists get to interact with their fans directly.

3.       You’ve recently been inducted into the Coventry Hall of Fame.  What does it mean for you to be included in that elite group of individuals?

It’s an absolute honor to be amongst other great famous names. I guess it’s the biggest compliment for any individuals work to be recognized and appreciated by the public, and being my home town makes it that much more special. Simply…a dream come true.

4.       You’ve released 19 CDs since you first started your career as Johnny Zee.  Which of these albums did you enjoy making the most and why?  Which do you consider to be a game-changer and why?

Being a composer and writer, I feel each and every song has a special place in my heart and the reason for writing it, in the first place. I have been very humbly grateful for having had the life of music and career that I’ve had and enjoyed every second of it.  An album that most definitely sticks in my mind as life-changing, has got to be ‘SLAVE TO FUSION’ which became one of the biggest selling albums of all time. I guess the reason for the huge success of this particular album has got to be the songs & melodies / compositions just captured that mass appeal. I guess people do not really realize how petrified you are when an artist has to un-leash their work of art to his/her fans. The question in your head always pops up….will they like it? Have I done enough? The list is endless. Luckily, God has been on my side and seen me through and my hard work has paid off.

5.       It has been over 23 years since you first entered into the musical business.  How has your music and Asian music evolved over the years?

The music business, like any business, is a very tough world to please and to break. The Asian music business has evolved quite rapidly over the years and one has to move with the times. In the early days, which in my opinion were the bes,t we had people buy our music and supported the artist. I feel that the internet has killed the artist pocket i.e. it is more and more difficult trying to make a living out of music like it used to be because of file sharing and the disappearance of physical sales. Artist face difficult times because of these reasons, and record companies do not have the potential to pump money into artists for the same reason. I remember when we used to shoot videos for more than a budget of £30,000 pounds sterling. When I signed to EMI Records we signed a deal for 1.5 million pounds. Nowadays, record companies want the artist to make their own video, record their own album, pay towards the marketing and PR as well as give 50% share of your shows and gigs (known as a 360 deal). I guess the flip side is that artists who do not have a label can rely on the social networks to promote themselves, which is also a positive. I just wished that people who are a fan of any artist would purchase their music to show their love for the music and the hard work that goes into making it happen.  Fans help keep our industry alive…not piracy!

6.       You’ve collaborated with some other amazing artists during your career.  What track did you enjoy producing the most with a fellow artist and why?

Collaborations are always fun and a breath of fresh air. I have really enjoyed working with the likes of Simon & Diamond (DJ Swami) as they are amazing musicians & producers. Together, we wrote some amazing songs some of which are still yet to be released someday.

7.       You’ve won Best International Artist at the UK Asian Music Awards.  What did it take to reach that milestone in your career?

A lot of hard work & graft!!! Self-belief, focus and determination.   I feel that it is the fans that are directly responsible for anyone’s success as well as God’s Blessings for reaching any such milestone. I have been very lucky and yes, my career has certainly had its fair share of ups and downs but I never doubted myself and neither did my fans.


8.       Who has been the greatest musical influence in your life and why?  How about spiritual influence and why?

There are too many names to name, however to name but a few are: RD BURMAN for being the greatest Bollywood songwriter ever. His music has been one of my biggest inspirations and has helped carve and shape / nurture my music. PRINCE is one my favorite artists in the world and once again an untouchable singer songwriter…the master & king of Funk ! MICHAEL JACKSON for his music that inspired me from when I was a young kid for the performer he was. BOB MARLEY, STEVIE WONDER, GURDAS MAAN for the legend he is. The CARPENTERS, Most of my influences come from the old Motown Sound, MARVIN GAYE, JAMES BROWN, SLAVE, ZAPP, BOOTSY COLLINS…the list is endless.

9.       If you were to give one piece of advice to emerging artists, what would that be?

I would urge new artists to think outside of the box, rather than emulate what is already around them. Work hard on being as fresh as you can with your song-writing and never let anyone tell you that you are not good enough. Follow your dream with complete and utter conviction, only then you will succeed.

10.   What’s next for Taz?

I am the Music Director for a number of films of which the titles will be revealed soon. The big one to watch is the following collaborations coming very soon.

1. TAZ, RISHI RICH & DON DEE:  2 singles being released later this year.
2. TAZ & RAOOL: An EP of 4 tracks to be released later this year.

The family-oriented FREE community festival will be celebrated on Friday, August 17 and Saturday, August 18, 2012 at the Plaza of Nations. Click HERE to view the full festival lineup. Guests are encouraged to bring their own umbrellas, lawn chairs and blankets.