MW Digital Cover Star Jassie Gill On Ruling Punjabi Music, And Winning Hearts In Bollywood

If you have ever watched Jassie Gill’s interviews, you’ll know that he may be the loud-fun-party guy in his music videos, but he’s quite the shy, reluctant boy-next-door in real life. After breaking all barriers with his songs, Gill ventured into acting — first with Punjabi movies, and then Bollywood. His Bollywood debut was Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi with Sonakshi Sinha, and then Panga with Kangana Ranaut. He’s on to his third film, Kya Meri Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai, which has just been released. The grounded and polite Gill is working on his first album in a long time, bringing out his own label. He believes in giving his music the space it needs to breathe, and doesn’t believe in doing things just to ‘trend’. Gill delves into his journey of a decade, his take on remixes and their popularity, and what he sees on his vision board. Over to the star. 

Kurta and cropped Bundi by Shantanu and Nikhil; Loafers by Language Shoes; On the Wrist: Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium Solid 18k Gold Bezel

You have completed a decade in the music industry this year. What are your memories from those early days? 

Honestly, I remember everything very clearly, because during that time, we had to work on albums. When I started working, there was no concept of creating singles. And to produce one album, you had to spend a lot of money. Also, there was very limited knowledge. I remember I had struck a deal of two songs with a person. I would not like to take names, but that person took a lot of money from me, and they did not even do my work. After that, I decided that I will not work on music until I have enough money, since I had no budget after this incident. 

During the same time, I got my visa for Australia. My sister was residing there and she had managed to arrange a tourist visa for me. I washed cars for four months there to earn money. I used the money collected there to create my album – Batchmate. I gave the album to T-Series. The first song from the album did not get much attention but the second song, Churiyan, got a lot of attention. People noticed that a new artist has entered the industry. I had only gotten the advertisement for this album for a month from T-Series. For the next album that I signed with them, I got two videos as well from T-Series, and the rest is history. 

In all these years, what changes have you seen in your music? How would you say you have evolved? 

Initially, it used to be a huge thing if someone was working on eight songs. I was able to work on as many as eight songs, but once the concept of singles arrived, I felt a little relaxed. The good thing about singles is that whatever song I create, I can release it then and there. But gradually, the pressure to create more singles also took over. If the views, the response it gets is not good, if the song does not resonate with the audience, then you start to question everything. It tends to make you worry. So, I have launched my own label recently. This will help me make more and more music. We have a lot of content but we are not able to release it since different labels have different preferences. But the hard work we put into each song is the same, so it is not fair that one song gets recognition, and the other doesn’t. And also, labels are concerned if the song will be a commercial success or not. So now, I have shifted my focus on making music that I love, and the kind of music I initially used to create. I just want to make good music, and not only work on songs for them to be hits. A song becomes a hit if you genuinely work on it. 

What is more challenging for you — music or acting?

Music is something that comes naturally to me. I make music every day. It is like meditation for me. But when it comes to acting, the ball is in someone else’s court. Everything depends on what kind of people I am working with, what the director wants from me. I have never had an acting background. I have 100 per cent involvement in music and I know even the smallest details about how music is created, but with films, a director guides you on what they want, so that is the only difference. 

The jury is divided on if we want remixes or not. What’s your take on remixes?

I have never had a problem with remixes. I have said this in my earlier interviews as well that if you are remixing a song that has just been released a few months ago, then that is wrong. Punjabi songs have such a reach that they get instantly famous everywhere. It is not like these songs need to feature in a Hindi film to be known. I have an objection when artists remix a fresh, recently released track. There is no need to recreate such songs. But old songs, songs that today’s generation might not have heard, remixing or recreating those songs is not a bad idea. My only concern is that I should enjoy the music, regardless of the fact that who has sung it, if it’s a remix or not. When I work on a recreation and if someone asks me about it, I just say that it was my call on what I put into that recreation. When I worked with Sa Re Ga Ma on a recreation, I just kept the hook line to create the nostalgia, and added new beats and lyrics to the song. 

Kurta and cropped Bundi by Shantanu and Nikhil; Loafers by Language Shoes; On the Wrist: Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium Solid 18k Gold Bezel

What do you think is still missing from the Hindi or Punjabi music industry?

New music is created every day, especially in the Punjabi music industry. In today’s time, everything is available on the internet. One is not restricted to listening to one specific genre of music. Music is created through inspiration. If I am making music today, and if I have come across some certain kind of beats or tunes that I love, then I try to make music according to that. If I know that a specific genre of music is trending right now, then I try to make music like that. It has become a global phenomenon now. 

If I talk about Punjabi music, some songs reach the global charts now, so it’s not restricted to only Punjabis listeners anymore. Everyone is listening to different artists. If you take the example of Brown Munde, the song went viral. It is one of the most-streamed songs currently. The two boys who worked on this song are new to the music scene, they are not big names, but because of the accessibility and the power of the internet, they got famous. 

Which artists or rappers are you looking forward to collaborating with?

Truth be told, initially, I used to think that I should collaborate with other artists, but now I think that I want to create my own music. A lot of times, what happens is that when you collaborate with someone, you tend to experiment with your music, and that doesn’t work for you at all. People start to question your collaboration or your experiment. Having said that, if I do see an opportunity where I feel I should collaborate with another artist, I will definitely work on a song with them. Currently, I don’t think I am ready to collaborate with someone. I am concentrating on my own music. 

Is there any genre of music or any kind of music that you want to experiment with? 

I don’t think about the genre when I am working on something. It only depends on the mood. If I come across some beats that I think I should create music on, I work on that. The main focus, however, remains that I don’t focus on producing a ‘hit’. Since I had no background in music or acting, I have always worked on things from scratch. I made music inspired by what I used to listen to. Touchwood, I used to listen to good music, and hence I am able to create good music. I try to make songs inspired by the ones that I grew up listening to, and not make music just because it is trending and viral. 

Let’s talk about acting. Was it always your plan to branch out and become an actor, or did it happen by chance?

It was never a part of the plan. Before I entered the industry, there were not many details put into music videos. Eventually, we started working on video concepts, where we tried to make music videos conceptually and visually appealing. During that time, I experimented with different roles — I played an alcoholic in one video, a soldier in another, I essayed the role of a middle-class boy travelling in the bus to his college in my song Lancer, so this helped me open up a bit. I was less camera conscious. Then, I was offered Punjabi films, and since people started appreciating my work, I also felt that I should work more in films. I was gradually offered Bollywood films as well, so it encouraged me to work harder. 

Jacket and Trousers by Scotch and Soda; On the Wrist: Tissot Seastar 1000 Quartz Chronograph

How has your experience been working in Bollywood?

It’s been good. I was offered a film after people noticed my songs. The video of my song, Nakhre, caught Mudassar Aziz’s attention, and he invited me to meet him. He told me that he wanted to rope me in for a film. While I was working on Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi, I was offered Panga. I had given auditions for both the films, after which I was selected. It was not a conscious decision, it just happened. I got an opportunity and I kept working hard. And now my third film — Kya Meri Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai? — has just been released. 

What differences did you notice between the Punjabi film industry and the Hindi film industry?

There is no such difference, it’s just that the Punjabi industry is a fairly new industry. They have a limited audience, budgets, and they have limited recovery. Bollywood has a wider audience and a wider reach, so I think that’s a plus point, and a major difference. Having said that, I think Punjabi content is also as good as any other. 

Thanks to cross-cultural projects, the audience is getting to see more and more artists from different regional industries as well. Do you feel we have become a free space, where all the industries are coming together?

I feel relaxed because earlier, people used to judge you based on box office numbers. But now, content has become the main driving tool. On streaming platforms, content stays for a longer period of time. Anyone can watch their favourite shows and films at any point in time. And your overall work is now judged on the basis of solely your work, and not numbers. The cross-cultural projects give you an opportunity to be more visible. Regardless of the language, people are noticing you, and appreciating your work. The main focus has become content, and I think that is great.

Are you looking out for particular kinds of scripts now? Have you set any goals for yourself in terms of acting?

When it comes to the Punjabi industry, I worked on as many films as I could. But when I entered Bollywood, I always had in mind that I wanted to work with good production houses, and work on different films. The third film that I signed was also because it was so different. In Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi, I was a Punjabi. In Panga, I essayed the role of a guy from Delhi, and in my third film, I play a guy from UP. I am experimenting a lot. I got an opportunity to showcase my acting skills, and people noticed that. People’s mindsets also changed. They noticed my hard work and appreciated that I am trying to experiment with my skills and explore more. I also want to work on different things, and since I have no background, it is these experiments that will help me learn and grow. 

Which actors are you inspired by?

I have watched v ery few films. But if I think about the kind of work I want to do, I guess Aamir Khan is my biggest inspiration. I want to work on films like his, films that have more meaning. 

Tell us about Kya Meri Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai, and your role. 

Kya Meri Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai? has been released on Zee5. The plot revolves around the viral 10 rupee note incident, and how it all happened. It is a story based in Bareilly, UP, and because the script was so good, I said yes to the film. The meme was so popular and the way the film was written, some things in it were so amazing that I thought I had to do this film. It was a great experience working with Surbhi Jyoti. I later got to know that she is also from Jalandhar, so the vibe on the sets was also very great. 

What’s your next move? Will the audience get to see you in web series as well?

I just want to work, the platforms or the format does not matter. 

You have spoken about your struggle, working to make money for your album, and your breakthrough moments. What advice would you give to aspiring artists who want to enter the music industry?

My advice would be that one should only concentrate on the content, because content is everything. In today’s time, if you are working on good content and producing different kinds of music, then people will definitely listen to it. 

Jassie Gill

Jacket and Trousers by Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna; Jumper by Zara; Boots by Language Shoes; On the Wrist: Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium Solid 18k Gold Bezel

Your social media is cleanly divided between your family and your work. What is Jassie Gill most likely to be doing when not working?

Currently, my wife and my daughter have come to visit me. So whenever I am not working on anything, I play with my daughter. They used to stay in Canada and have recently come back! so I try to spend as much time with them as I can. 

What has parenting taught you about life?

I was a different person before my daughter was born. I feel different now. I don’t think I will be able to explain this feeling. My approach towards life was different before my daughter entered my life, and it has changed completely. I was very careless before, but now I have become more conscious about what I am working on, I have become more emotional. Even if you visit my Instagram profile, you will notice the change (laughs). Earlier, it was all about having fun, but now I just want to spend more and more time with my daughter. 

What are you working on next? 

I am working on my next album now. I also launched three new songs with my label, and now I will be releasing a new album on YouTube. This album will be a proper one with videos. The last album I worked on was in 2016, after which I only worked on singles, so I am working hard to create music that I like from the bottom of my heart. This album will have different kinds of songs.

On the Wrist : Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium Solid 18k Gold Bezel

Boots by Language Shoes (https://languageshoes.com/)

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