Sanjay Seran sounds a little frustrated as he reports on the Canadian Music Week showcase performance of Vancouver’s Delhi 2 Dublin Wednesday, May 8th at Toronto’s Rivoli Nightclub. Apparently, sound glitches had disrupted the quartet’s debut of their latest `We Got This’ CD release and their unique blend of Bhangra, reggae, dub, electropop influences.
“It’s a bit frustrating, you want to put your best foot forward but you aren’t able to because of circumstances out of your control,” he allowed.” “I guess that’s what happens when you have a multi-band lineup which doesn’t get proper sound checks. But the vibe was still good though.”
Considering the multi-cultural nature of this country’s population, it’s hardly surprising that a band currently comprising of Seran (vocals), Tarun Nayar (tabla/keyboards), Ravi Binning (dhol) and more recently, Serena Eades (violin) which melds electro-pop with Punjabi influences, would create a devoted following. But although Delhi 2 Dublin has developed a strong world music ethnic following in defined East Asian strongholds, they also strive to reach a more general, commercial audience with songs that can attract a mainstream following.
“We’ve been going for 13 years, we’ve paid our dues, done the roadwork, done something like 150 shows a year, probably played over 1,000 shows yet there are still people out there who have never heard of us,” bemoaned Seran.” “Our response has been, hey, we’re trying, we want you to know about us.”
Considering the band has released six studio albums, three remixed albums and one live recording at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom, Delhi 2 Dublin should be more recognizable than they, especially when they have earned rave reviews performing in Great Britain (appearing at the prestigious Glastonbury Festival), India, Europe, the United States and other international destinations where their albums have consistently topped world music charts.
Yet understanding that musical trends are cyclical, Seran is confident that their persistence is paying off and with top producer, Gavin Brown (Barenaked Ladies, The Tragically Hip, Metric) helming their latest opus, he is hopeful that “We Got This” can reach a mainstream audience.
“Gavin is not like your regular producer,” enthuses Seran. “He sees things other people don’t see and he is very comfortable working with bands from different ethnic backgrounds, he gets it. He compared us to Bob Marley in our ability to reach different cultures and I think that is a huge compliment.”
With songs like the infectious “My People”, “Home (Everywhere I Go)”, “We Are All Desi” and the title track, this nine-song release boasts a strong Bhangra undertone but production-wise is a lot more commercially accessible.
“There’s a strong feeling of Punjabi present still but our message may have been hidden behind Punjabi lyrics in the past,” Seran explained. “But now it’s blatantly in English for everyone to experience. There’s a vibe and energy in our live shows of genuine global love and we feel we need to reach as many people as possible with this message.”
For those wondering about the band’s strange name, it came about because of collaboration during a Celtic festival staged in Vancouver in 2006. “Tarun was commissioned by the festival’s artistic director to create an electronic arrangement for the event,” Seran explained. “Tarun didn’t know anything about Celtic music so he created this 15-minute music piece where four Irish dancers and two Irish fiddle players and myself, a Punjabi vocalist performed along with the arrangement which had an Indian beat to it. The arrangement was so successful that people kept asking us to repeat that performance. We didn’t have a name for it so Tarun called it `From Delhi To Dublin’ which was the name of the original event.”
Eventually, the group decided to push forward, using the moniker and their breakthrough came when they performed at the Canada Day 2007 event on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill before a live audience of some 150,00, even though they had only written three songs at that time.
Since then, their World Music vibe has attracted global attention which they hope to finally replicate in their home country. “It’s perplexing to go to places like the UK and India where they get us and get what we’re all about. But we are determined to break through in Canada and we feel that “We Got This” could be the record that connects with a domestic audience.”