Crown The Brown: Apache Indian
Crown The Brown: Apache Indian Celebrates 30 years in the industry. The legendary Apache Indian has brought such a multicultural genre to our lives over the years. Turning what once was a hobby into a full fled iconic career, Apache showed us what true passion and diversity is. He knew the beauty of being inclusive with music and celebrating his roots and experiences.
Apache has recently released his new album called ‘What’s Not To Love?” featuring artists from around the globe. Bringing us all together through music. We wanted to know more about his work over the years. This is what he shared with us!
Firstly, 30 years of the one and only Apache Indian in mainstream media! Wow, talk about iconic. You’ve inspired so many generations over the years with your music! How would you describe your growth as a musician over the years?
It’s really great to have inspired so many people with my work. I have heard stories from around the world which inspires me again towards doing the right thing. The music that I delivered from 30 years ago to now is just a reflection of my life. Who I am, where I am from, my roots and so forth.
I am proud of the city I was born in. Birmingham, which is very multicultural. It gave me all the flavours that I celebrate in music; diversity, culture and language. I wouldn’t cast myself in the music industry, I mostly share my life through music with people. Whether it is about arranged marriages, chakde or my opinions about things, I share it all.
My style of music being a bit of Indian, bhangra and reggae just worked. We never thought of it as a formula of success, it just happened because of my own experiences and sharing that with the world. The fact that people have enjoyed it over the years just makes it extra special!
Every song has a story and is a part of my life. It is like a prayer from my heart being shared. Creating a whole new genre that never existed until I started sharing my work.
It created bhangramuffin, which ended up being a completely different genre. It has now become the Asian Urban sound around the world. I am very proud of that.
I never really set out to be a musician, I wanted to be a teacher. To be able to share my life, my experiences and inspire people is an amazing achievement. It makes me feel so good and keeps me going!
The genre behind your work has impacted so many communities, especially within the South Asian diaspora. The way you’ve infused a lot of culture and reggaeton has brought a sense of unity in many groups. What inspired the fusion?
The inspiration was where I was born. A very multicultural city that impacted on my life and experiences. Growing up, The band UB40 had an impact on us because of the influence of Reggae and Jamaican culture and music.
My parents were from India and came to the UK in the late 50s and 60s. There were no nurseries at the time and parents hired a nanny to take care of me while they were working.
I spent 8 hours a day for 5 years with the nanny. She was Jamaican. Being a kid, you get influenced by your surroundings and those around you. I spent a lot of time with her and she taught me so much about the Caribbean culture and music. I was exposed to so much.
It’s not the love and understanding of music but the love and understanding for culture. It developed into the love of music and language. It was never about appropriating what I learnt but showing the understanding and love for it because of the exposure over the years.
I decided to mix my own Indian culture with what I was exposed to at a young age to showcase my love for it and how it impacted me in a positive way. It all came together as a reflection of who I am, my background, neighbourhood and family.
My music reflected the Jamaican roots, Indian and British roots. I am very proud to be British. Britain brought us all together.
In the UK, we have a sense of diversity that can either cause problems or bring others together. We celebrate the diversity, break down those barriers and cut those tensions with music. It brings people together.
As diversity has grown over the years, the music has become more accepted because we all learn from one another. It inspired more genres in music and seeing more people of colour on screen because of celebrating our roots and the diversity around us.
Being a POC musician and creating such a big brand of your own over the years, what are some of the highlights and challenges you’ve experienced over the years?
The highlights would have to be the fact that I got to tour the world. I was able to see places that I never thought I’d ever be in. I have seen big parts of my own country India and celebrate my roots. Learning from my community and take that back with me to the UK. I was able to become closer to my parents, my own culture, language and roots. I was able to discover more about our history and our people.
The massive respect around the world for the work that we do. Seeing people support me in the same category as Madonna or Michael Jackson was amazing. Not being labelled on my own and being seen completely different but being seen as an artist like everyone else was such a highlight to me. It made such a big impact and having a brown person on the British charts was a big win for many given the history of our people.
The respect from Jamaica and the musicians there as well. The highlight of working with the Marley family and working in the Bob Marley studio, as well as being signed. Being embraced by other Caribbean people was amazing.
Being able to work with so many amazing musicians across the globe is an immense highlight for me and having to cover so many different events without being labelled or placed in a box is something I love.
You were a form of representation to many, especially during the 90s. How important is representation to you and why do you think it’s significant to have more inclusion within the mainstream media?
A lot of my music touches on social issues that are prevalent in the Asian community even today. Representation is important because we need to speak about these issues.
I felt like it was important to discuss the issues openly. I never understood why things were brushed under the table, such as mental health, colorism, caste system, alcoholism, lgbtq marriages. It was never easy to speak about the issues but I wanted to encourage those discussions through music.
We need to shed light on issues that impact on our lives and our community as a whole.
Honestly, our community is lacking when it comes to support. There are so many talented people out there but because of the competitive nature of our community, people compete rather than support. It’s real. We find more people wanting others to fail than uplifting them. I will never understand why but it needs to change.
Personally, I feel like our community is very broken. People never really spoke about the issues and the lack of representation made it worse. There weren’t enough brown people in mainstream media helping others reach out for help. That is why I shared so much of my own experiences. I showed respect to the culture at the time while unpacking the problems within.
Brown people don’t speak about the issues, especially men. It has all been brushed under the rug. The new generation is not having it though. They are open and speak about the issues today. It is all about good or bad. What kind of person are you today and how do you want to be represented.
Do you think that the industry has become more inclusive?
I feel like the industry is more regressive today. We have the diversity but not everything is played in mainstream. It has all been divided. Our radio stations are divided into all the genre’s instead on uniting them on one station. There is division and I don’t find that to be a sense of inclusion or representation.
Radio stations should at least play 25% of one city and then the next instead of having to switch stations to find representation. I don’t want to change a station to listen to bhangra. I want it on the same station as Prince, Madonna or Michael Jackson.
Music has become so easy to buy yet it is so expensive to make. A lot of artists are struggling to find their way and the industry has not made much progress in being inclusive towards their audience. The internet allows exposure but it does not last as much as the impact music use to have.
There is a lot more work that needs to be done. There is no substance in the industry. Even on television, there aren’t musical shows anymore. Independent artists aren’t able to showcase their work the same way. It’s regressing.
You’ve recently released a new album called What’s Not To Love. Tell us more about the album and what we can expect from it.
I am celebrating 30 years in the industry and I decided to release this album! I started recording this album 3 years ago.
During lockdown, the academy was closed and I spent most of my time at home. I found myself in my studio at home, working on music. Throughout the lockdown, I decided to work on the tracks and accelerated the process of the album.
I spent 6 months working on it at home. At the end of August, I decided to go to Spain. Initially, I planned on staying for a week but ended up staying longer because of lockdown. There was no point going back during this time. I had my studio shipped out to Spain and finished the album in Spain.
While in Spain, my friend would show me the palm trees and the scenery every single day, continuously saying “what’s not to love?” Which ultimately inspired the name of the album.
The album is an important album, it showcases everything I have ever done in my life. It is a bit of old Apache and new Apache in one. It has some Indian flavour with featured artists from India. I wanted to include artists that showcase their roots and bring a sense of recognition.
I also have a young kid from our own academy on a song on the album. There is also a Spanish collaboration on the album. There is a lot of diversity in this project. It is rooted in culture, which I love. I wanted artists that I believe in and those that work hard at their craft.
The album is a platform for artists to come together in the name of music and create something beautiful. It allows us to showcase different artists from different walks of life.
You also have your own academy, Apache Indian Academy. Tell us more about it.
The academy was an idea that came about because I felt like something was missing. I wanted to help people but I was not quite sure how I would help others. Taking days off, fly out and come back until one day I went to my old college.
I asked them if I could set up a room for a youth club and they agreed. Not long after that, I filled the room with my studio, pool table and instruments. We always kept the doors open. It was for anyone willing to learn or just wanting to get away from reality. Homeless people, those that had a passion for music, anyone that needed help.
I remember growing up with a music youth club and I realized that there weren’t many around. I wanted to build something that would help the youth and keep kids off the streets.
Eventually young people starting coming to the club, many wanting to be rock stars or singers. We got kids off the streets, different races, backgrounds, religions and languages. It was very diverse which enabled them to find a common love for music.
Many were able to communicate and network with one another. We were also able to help many of them get back into college, helping with CVs and job applications. We had music, sport and helping with issues like Mental Health.
I was trying to create something uplifting. We did it with absolutely no money but tackling community issues and having people volunteer. Having people sponsoring us with different products and having us play at events in the community. We were the diamonds in the community.
Seven years later, we were winning national awards and many of the kids were able to perform in different places. People loved the initiative and help out a lot, especially with our fundraisers for charities. It is really a community effort.
We have set up an academy in Holland as well and now we are working towards opening one in Pune, India as well.
It essentially works towards connecting people in the community, raising awareness, tackling issues and it has become such a diamond in the community.
As a musician with so much of experience in the industry, how has being in the industry helped you grow was an individual and a musician?
The industry has made me wiser and tougher. I was a very quiet and shy guy from the beginning. Trusted a lot of people but over the years I became more knowledgeable regarding the business aspect of music. I started gaining more confidence over time in the industry.
Traveling allowed me to learn more about other cultures, music and lifestyles. I was able to witness how different other people live from poverty to riches and more. It opened my eyes and I got to see so much more that influenced my music in the end. It impacted on my work and I started raising funds for charities globally.
Above all, the industry taught me a lot about my lifestyle and others. Similarly, the impact of someone else’s experience and their love for music. I learned a lot more about myself as a musician, especially when visiting India. It made me stronger working in the industry and raising a family.
What advice do you have for other aspiring artists trying to make it into mainstream media?
Always work on improving yourself. There is always something new to do. Productivity is important. Every day is valuable and unpredictable. Be the best that you can. Be spontaneous with your craft. Show support to other artists as well. Do something for yourself and others.
Make life yours. Do what you love. Do the best that you can do. You can make such a big difference in the world by doing things that are going to make you a better person. Practice. Show support to gain support and never give up on what you love.
Apache has really showed us how dedication and growth can impact on the well-being of others. He has impacted so many positively and encouraged diversity over the years with his unique sound! Be sure to follow his journey on social media @apacheindianhq and stream his new album!