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Creating A Space

An Indian singer busts the charts, going beyond Apache Indian and Bally Sagoo

Creating A Space
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553
A young, skinny lad, dressed in a long skirt, enhancing cross-cultural upbringing. That's Jasmann, whose mixed features—inherited from his Punjabi father and American mother—give him a distinctively beautiful, effeminate look. But, it is this very look that Jasmann seeks to play down, emphasising that communication in music goes beyond mere looks.

Deftly side-stepping questions on whether his Asian origins attract the youth towards him, Jasmann says: "Look, I am a normal British boy. And I want to be appreciated for my singing—by everyone alike. Why should the colour of my skin matter?" Noticeably mature for his 24 years, Jasmann has consistently driven home this point as is evident in the wide following he has acquired among the youth in Britain, cutting across the all-too-familiar divisions of racism.

The Babylon Zoo—the latest band to emerge on the British music scene which features Jasmann as lead singer, producer and writer—has been described as the consummate reaction to the media's 21st century dream. Their first single, Spaceman , hit the number one spot in Britain and has held top ratings on the charts for four weeks now. It is already the fastest selling debut since charts began, reports The Guardian .

Much as Jasmann resists being identified on the basis of his ethnic origins, deep down he is still firmly rooted in India and in the notions of soul and realisation of inner peace. "The Spaceman is about recognising that we all have our spaceman—a projection of our inner soul, of how we feel about ourselves," says Jasmann. "Our outer personalities are so easily affected by our social environments, but we must stay true to ourselves and not compromise our spaceman."

The single was first discovered by a member of the Levi's marketing team who heard a demo of the song on a local radio station last October, and then speeded it up and used it for their own commercial.

Today Jasmann writes, sings and produces all his songs. The sounds of the super-charged guitar that liven up Spaceman have been produced by plugging a cheap second-hand guitar and amplifier straight through a mixing desk. The distorted vocals of Jasmann's alter-egos have similarly been engendered through inexpensive gadgetry assembled in his bedroom-cum-studio, rather than through sophisticated production tools. With these he successfully amalgamates the English and Indian influences in his music.

This creativity comes across best in the album titled, The Man With The X-Ray Eyes , in which Jasmann makes excellent use of the tabla and sitar. Space, fantasy, stars and astronomy are potent themes in his music. 

Jasmann lives at home with his parents and three sisters. Watching old classics like entertainment and he confides that one day he would like to come to Bollywood: "I want to work with a good team and make an Indian sci-fi film, as I have written a few scripts." The new album has indeed been described as a mirror of his personal convictions and beliefs, a soundtrack without a film, a modern opera without a script and the band asactors playing with the rock in' dinosaur.

The British Asian music industry has grown steadily over the past years and Jasmann fits in easily with third and fourth generation British Asians. He says he wants to write about what he feels, and people around him should take him for what he is: "I write about what it would feel like to be a person from another planet, rather than romanticising science fiction."

Jasmann's success is noteworthy in view of the fact that artistes like Apache Indian and Bally Sagoo have been unable to achieve mainstream recognition because they could not separate their ethnicity from their artistry. But as we prepare to step into the 21st century, such barriers are being overcome and the music industry has realised that the British Asian music industry is setting itself a new agenda. The Babylon Zoo has targeted a mainstream audience and excelled.

As for what the future holds, Jasmann envisages experiments in multi media. "World domination and multimedia experience are what my plans are for the future," he says. Prophetic words, since this spaceman knows no limits.

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