Type to search

News & Updates

Friction’s Desi Deck-Adence

Award-winning DJ Bobby Friction talks about his name, fame and the finding his feet in the tumultuous British electronica scene.

Jan 19, 2009

Bobby Friction is regarded as one of the most influential Asians in the British media. Not content with his gregarious voice just permeating the airwaves, this three-time Sony Gold award winning radio DJ has added music producer, television presenter and youth icon to his list of credentials. From being chosen as a Cultural Ambassador for the London 2012 Olympic bid to being a respected voice of the British Asian community, this talented son of the colonial soil’s ability to glide between cultures is unequivocally unique. ROLLING STONE caught up with Bobby in London”¦

1. How did you acquire the name Bobby Friction?

“Bobby is a home name; there are hundreds of Bobbys in Punjab. My flatmates at Uni were giving each other rock star names. I was obsessed with politics and was constantly causing friction. So they called me ”˜Friction’. I was at a club later and I got interviewed, they asked me my name and I said ”˜Bobby Friction’. The name stuck.”

2. Who are your biggest musical influences?

One word: PRINCE! I really loved music as a kid but then that was it; I just liked music. After Prince, music suddenly became a living, breathing, three-dimensional art form that made me cry, that made me laugh, that depressed me, that became the soundtrack of my life and I thank the Lord Prince did that to me and no one else, because what he did was introduce me to the whole cannon of Western popular music. It’s only now that I can look back and see what an influence his music and his ideas, his business ideas about music have affected the way I think.”

3. If you were given an opportunity to remix one Prince track, which one would it be?

“That’s really hard. It’s not naming your favourite track that’s tough when you obsess ever someone; it’s actually thinking artistically what you would use to remix. I think”¦ alright, it would have to be just for today, because there is no straight answer to this, it would be ”˜Girls and Boys’ the reason being, just for today, I’m enjoying the difficult side of Prince and there are loads of really weird saxophone rifts throughout that song. If you look back and listen, can you name the genre of that song? You can’t. It’s so ambiguous musically”

4. Tell us something about the Eighties’ multi-cultural Britain and daytime gigs that were organised for a generation of Asian kids that lacked the freedom to enjoy nightlife like their Caucasian counterparts.

“See, then we looked at it as fourteen year olds and now people look at it and they see it as the seminal point in British Asian musical history. You can’t tell anyone about Asian musical history in the UK without talking about the phenomenon. Day gigs brought together Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis for the first time and said, we are in Britain, let us get together and listen and dance to Asian music, specifically Bhangra. But that’s just in hindsight. Being part of it at the time actually was just crazy!”

10. How did you get involved in DJing?

“By the time I graduated, I was so proud of my people and my culture, I was intent on using this artistic lens to record it. At an Outcaste Records night where DJ Ritu and Nitin Sawhney were playing, Sweety Kapoor handed me a flyer for a new club night called Anokha at Hoxton’s Blue Note where Talvin Singh was to play.”

“I still know twenty five people from that night at Outcaste. It was a moment of marvellous synchronicity at an Asian Underground level.”

“That night, I met Farook Ahmed Khan who later became DJ Pathaan and Imran Khan, founder of cult magazine Second Generation. We became ”˜les enfant terribles’ of the whole scene. We had a very punk attitude and created a myth, a reality and energy around ourselves. It was Quadrophenia meets Purple Rain.”

“After Anokha came to an end, Ash Chandola set up a night at the Blue Note called Swaraj. I played every Monday night and that was the making of me. I’d never deejayed. I learned in a month. I was a ”˜good selector’ [Laughs]. Not a lot of mixing but great music. I’d try to perform with this artistic physicality on stage. I’d bring my music in a mango box to make a statement. I later went on to become one of the first residents of Shaanti and began to apply my multi-genre attitude to my sets.”

14. The musical landscape in India is changing. What do you envisage for the future?

I’m excited and feel that a ”˜youth quake’ is on the way. Bollywood is a big, massive fucking tree that’s sucking up every inch of rain water; its canopy is obscuring every inch of sunlight and no new shoots are coming through. That tree needs to be chopped down. I don’t mean Bollywood needs to be destroyed but at the moment it’s at a point where it needs to be attacked not by the West but by the youth in India. How else are we going to find the Indian Bob Marley? And there will be one!”

12. If you had the power to create THE ultimate musical artist, which artists from the past and present would you use as building blocks and why?

“This is such a brilliant question! We can make this into a reality TV show. He or she would have the pure raw sexuality of Elvis, the real-life working class credentials and career progression of the Beatles, Prince and Bowie’s obsession for being the alien and the outsider ”“ even to their own people, the business acumen of Madonna and her knowledge of one’s own talent and worth, a folk hero who would be a combination of Gurdas Mann and William Shakespeare, having the ability through words to record their peoples’ innermost feelings; and have the power to unite the world’s oppressed the way Bob Marley has.”

If there was one song you could hear before entering the pearly gates of Heaven, which song would it be?

“”˜A Day In the Life’ by The Beatles because it’s the most creative and surreal song in popular culture for the last fifty years and it ends with a thirty piece orchestra playing a crescendo that sounds like the end of the world, but a very British end of the world because it finishes with someone on a piano going doof.

What does music mean to you?

“It’s like a religion. It’s a way of understanding the world around me. It’s something to invest and put all of my love into and it’s proof that there is a universal God who has no religion attached to him.”

Previous Article
Next Article

You Might also Like