Jai Ratan Menun is a man of many talents and names, among which is Style Bhai. As Style Bhai, the power house of talent has delivered a number of unforgettable tunes including “Aai Pappi”, “Twist” and the most recent “Ho Naa”. With each tune, Style Bhai has made a place for himself in our hearts but what remains unknown is his story. Urban Asian sat down with the man of magnum opus status to uncover his roots, his journey as a composer and much more. Here is what Style Bhai had to say!
Can you describe your journey as a composer? How did music happen for you?
I arrived in what then was Bombay, now Mumbai, years ago to become an actor but soon enough my found his true calling – music! Madhav Das of Shashi Gopal’s label Magnasound heard my Hinglish (Hindi/English) and bang, you have it! There was no stopping Style Bhai now! Soon the composer duo Salim-Sulaiman produced the music with A&R overseen by Atul Churamani and they had Pritish Nandy’s company produce the video of my debut song/album Style Bhai. Pritish’s son Kushan directed my video with Bollywood actress Ashwini Bhave in a genie outfit with a treasure plot and all! I was even drawn by India’s famous cartoonist Mario Miranda (may he Rest In Peace) and those awesome drawings of his were used in the CD and promo packages.
Have you always wanted to work as a music composer/ singer? If not, what promoted you to begin your career in music?
I always loved music growing up in New York, listening to Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury, Rod Stewart, Madonna, Sugar Hill Gang and I hung out with brothers throughout high school so I was into rap music from day. Fast forward and it was Apache Indian with his Arranged Marriage that made me say hol’ on a minute I wanna do this for real! I even took my demo to him at the Ambassador hotel in Mumbai and he heard it and said he liked the lyrics and vibe and inspired me to keep at it.
You’ve shared the stage with the Spice Girls, No Doubt and the likes. What was the experience like?
When you have Scary Spice saying’ ‘look at thaaa one there’ and da whole group zoning in to look.. I mean…surreal. My Polo red blue game was killa though and they certified me official! Meeting Gwen Stefani was awesome and also Tony Kanal too! No Doubt the group killed it that night. I recently met Gwen again at the US Open tennis game last year she was there to support Roger Federer. I was in a VIP box next to them. Even dropped a verse for Dutty Sean Paul who was nearby and made it a point to talk to Gwen as she was leaving and reminded her of the Channel V awards show years ago that night to celebrate India’s independence. Magnasound artists yours truly Style Bhai and Daler Mehndi, Shaan – Sagarika, Shweta Shetty, Sanjay Raina, Salim Sulaiman, Somesh Mathur and Crescendo artist Suneeta Rao closed the show down that night!
As an international figure you have been exposed to music of all sorts. Which genre of music appeals to you the most?
I’m into good pop songs, reggae, rap R & B and am a huge Bollywood and Hindi film music fan.
Apart from music, you have an interest in film making. Tell us a bit about that.
I went to NYU and New York Film Academy (NYFA) to learn my craft and then worked on 7 films to date as an artist and crew, lead actor, writer, music video director, assistant cameraman, set dresser on films shot in the US and India. An English script I wrote won quarter-finals at the Scriptapalooza competition. I love film. Watching them and working in them. Have talent, will travel!
What sets traditional Bollywood music apart from the other kinds?
The melodies mainly and many times the lyrics are specific to the character’s situations.
You have worked with music director Pritam in a number of projects, what was the experience like?
Working with Pritam from his first major film “Dhoom” was great. He was just on the verge of becoming a huge name and I was right there. I was trying to do something fresh and even started using the name Indee instead of Style Bhai. Pritam knew I was bringing NY vibes and slang to da studio so as soon as he heard de reggae I wrote and sang him for his song Shikdhum – the bedroom mix he was like ok go in and record it. I’ve had a great time learning about music from watching and listening to him work, specially B parts in a song. I used to play my music to the dudes hanging around his studio arranging instrumentals and Pritam happened to hear my song “Aai Paapi” and said he wanted to use it as a chorus for his club smash from “Kismat Konnection” that became a hit and a few months later his eyes went wide when he heard me playing my rap version of “Twist” and he used my chorus for his mega ton hit. Over 22 million YouTube views! I also co-wrote and composed the first two lines (not credited) of the massive Pritam/Shah Rukh Khan song, “Love Mera Hit Hit” with over 50,000,000 million YouTube views! (my dude from da Bronx Vitamin E produced on that instrumental and that instr. hook in the song is by E!) I also wrote and sang the rap on the supa hit song, “Character Dheela.” I’ve also A&R’D tracks for Pritam getting DJ Jay Dabhi on the Talli Huaa remix from “Singh is Kinng” and the track for “Party on my Mind,” from “Race 2”
Please check out my new Facebook artist page Style Bhai that has a bunch of links to all my work in Bollywood music and follow my new Twitter I’m working solo now as a music director /producer myself.
Who is your inspiration, personal and professional?
Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Rod Stewart, Bob Marley, Sade, George Michael, and so many more like Rihanna, Adele on the melodic side and Notorious B.I.G. Tupac, Jay Z, Apache Indian, Shaggy, Sean Paul but I dig ALL hot music!
As a pure mentor none can equal rock star musician and super manager Jack Ponti (he wrote Bon Jovi’s “Shot Through the Heart”) and many Alice Cooper hits and after decades in the biz retired from music a few days ago! What I and a small group of others (ISC!) have learned from him with regards to songwriting, the music biz and life is unparalleled! I can’t wait for his new book to come out. You can’t avoid reading this no holds barred behind the scenes of the music biz or what was and is now not the music biz! We’re talking about a giant who managed singer India Arie to 7 Grammy nominations and managed R. Kelly and BoysIIMen and Royce Da 5’9′ at different times in their careers! I bow to Jedi Sensei Jack Ponti! Rock On Jack!
My wife Lynette is the rock of my life and I wanna say I love you to her for being there for me throughout the years of travels back and forth and all the craziness that is Bollywood! My son Saje who is seven years old sang some rap in a children’s song I composed called, “Take it Easy” (in the film of the same name directed by Sunil Prem Vyas and produced by Dharmesh Pandit that released in January) he inspires me every day!
What future projects can the audience look forward to hearing from you?
As a rapper I’ve sung on some hot new Meet Bros songs and demos and I have a couple Style Bhai rap songs coming up in a few months that I’m currently working on and as a music director I have more Bollywood songs coming as and when the films they are in release. Urban Asian will know about it first!. I keep it flowing. At some point I want to drop a reggae song under my international artist name Indee Rnnx (pronounced Ranks).
What is your message to fans?
Thanks for keeping the name Style Bhai on ya lips over the years! Thanks for loving my music! Bless! See you in a Bollywood film real soon! But right now…go check out the new film, “Kaun Kitne Paani Mein” composer Subhi and I collab’d on a beautiful love song called, “Ho Naa” sung by Shilpa Rao! Actor Saurabh Shukla does an award worthy role in it and Kunal Kapoor, Radhika Apte and Gulshan Grover are the perfect ensemble! Hats off to director Nila Madhab Panda and producer Supratik Roy on making a superb satire film!