Ravi Bal is a producer who weaves an intricate tapestry of progressive beats aligned with his unmatched music credentials as he illuminates the Bhangra and street reverberations of the modern day. His name is not synonymous with the world of, as it deserves to be, even though his music has travelled the globe and while he has worked alongside some of the biggest names in the industry. His last three releases as producer, Hard Kaur's Voodoo Hill, his own The Wizard compilation and Palvinder Pali's Awaz Uche Karde (Turn It Up!) attest to a precocious studio talent running from 'nu skool bhangra' to '90's Soul/R 'n' B swing' he so easily fuses. While much of Asian music created in the US and UK has followed the example of whatever-the-next-guy-next-door-is-doing, Ravi Bal presents an accessible alternative full of 90's stained funky beats and traditional Indian encores.
'I started playing keyboards for a local band and working at a musical equipment store in Birmingham while I was studying. Then I started to play keys in Malkit Singh's band and things really took off from there,' he says comfortably ensconced in his own Bat Cave studios. The liaison with Malkit Singh led him to being offered the opportunity to produce the now legendary album Midas Touch. 'That was a turning point for me as the album did incredibly well around the world for Malkit Singh,' he reminisces. The album triumphed in every territory it was released and spawned the massive hit Midas Touch Boliyan - Mitha Gunay.
He followed that success by working on the next Malkit Singh & Harvinder Singh album Forever Gold, which was recorded at UB40's Dep International Studios. 'Following that, I produced a Hindi remix for Mehaboob Chohan for a cover version from the film Junglee,' he points out, 'as well as performing some live music sessions for Radio One's Andy Kershaw at the BBC studios in London.' As his work became more intensified, he was teamed up with Bhangra legend A S Kang on the 1996 album Kang Fu as music director - another colossal hit album to add to his resume. Followed by recordings with Hindi playback artist Mangal Singh on the track Happy Ranjha, Panjabi diva Bhupinder Kaur's Full Force and Anakhi's smash hit Umbie, Ravi Bal became a big player of the UK's up and coming music fraternity.
As a phenomenal keyboard player in his own right, Ravi was invited to perform as part of Bally Sagoo's support band at the historic performance during Michael Jackson's first ever concert in India, when at the Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai they played to an audience of over 50,000 people. In 1996, he performed with Big Mountain and Maxi Priest at the Reggae Splash event in Dubai, and then in 1997 at the momentous hand over of Hong Kong concert at the Happy Valley Race Track alongside Lisa Stansfield, Brand New Heavies and Wet Wet Wet.
The last album Unleashed retains the hints of his early work and brings to the boil the punchy up-tempo fusion of Soul, R 'n' B and Bhangra beats he so easily creates. Featuring the vocal dynamite of such dignitaries as Sukhwindera Singh, Gurdas Maan, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Anuradha Paudwal and Kuldip Manak, the album is a generation away from the plethora of sound currently being made in England. 'All the artists are singing in Panjabi and introduce a variety of music styles to the album as a whole. No one track will sound the same,' Bal enthuses.
To compliment the release of the new album, Ravi Bal and his live stage show played at the World famous Basement Bhangra night at the SOB's club in New York in October 1999. 'It was a one-off and a great live experience. 'Ravi Bal and the Urban Militia' introduce a set that fuses live mixing, video loops, keyboards, a dhol player and live vocals.'
Ravi Bal is tagged as the Wiz Kid for the quiet revolution he is awakening through his fusion of interpretation. With two albums and a two-week recording assignment in Mumbai on his agenda in the coming weeks, the man is on course to make a name for himself this year - one way or another. Remember the name and catch the live session'I promise you it's well worth the wait