Surj, Kuly and Manj are more than just three ordinary brothers from Bradford. They are also happen to be talented music producers who go by the name of Rhythm, Dhol and Bass or RDB.
“Our sound is rhythm and bass. So we called ourselves Rhythm, Dhol, Bass. We have called ourselves other things over the years but RDB just stuck,” says 34-year-old Surj, the youngest of the three. “There is only a year difference between us in age, but we are different in the styles of music that we like. I used to go to heavy metal concerts. But it’s good because we all have different ideas that we can throw into the pot.”
Surj says their father was a strong influence on them, teaching them traditional musical instruments from an early age. By the time they were teenagers they were already mixing and producing music on their first computer. “It was a normal kind of progression for us. We have always loved music and we have always loved DJing,” he says.
By the turn of the millennium the brothers had begun recording their own blend of bhangra music. Originating in the 1980s, the mix of Punjab and western music has now become their defining sound.
Starting out as DJs, the Bradford-born trio began showcasing their work to friends and family at parties.
“When we got into the market in early 2005 garage music was also quite big and we blended these elements together as well,” says Surj. “We started making mixes, performing at community events and DJing at local parties across the UK. We set up our own record company and started releasing tracks.
“Our parents invested in us and bought us DJing equipment. Then we just had to get our name out there by doing the private events, getting into competitions and getting people to support our music. Through the internet people in other parts of the word started following us as well and now we have our own record label.”
But it could have so different. As RDB were making their first inroads to the music industry Surj had the opportunity to take a different path and turn his back on his potential music career.
“I was finishing A-levels and I had the option of going to university,” he says. “But this was the direction I wanted to take. I do sometimes wonder if I had gone to university whether I would be sitting here now, but I don’t regret it one bit.”
Surj and his brothers have every reason to be proud of their achievements. His decision to pursue his music career was vindicated in 2002 when RDB received the UK Asian Music Gold Disk award for best newcomer. They have not looked back.
“It was great to receive that award because it meant we had been acknowledged and recognised by people in the industry,” he says.
Since then RDB have toured the world over spreading their bhangra beats.
“Our biggest fan base is in India and North America and we are also popular in the Middle East,” says Surj. “I would say my most memorable tour we did was in Germany. We did 15 shows raising money for charity. The whole tour was great.
“Every one knew our lyrics and our songs. The whole tour had a great atmosphere.”
RDB have also collaborated with some of the biggest names in hip-hop. Five years ago they worked with Snoop Dog and Akshay Kumar on their track Singh is King.
The brothers have also worked with American hip-hop outfit Public Enemy and rapper Christopher Bridges who uses the stage name Ludacris.
“We met Snoop Dog in 2007,” says Surj. “We flew over to LA and sat down with him and told him about our track. He did his stuff in LA and we did our stuff here and we filmed a video over in Chicago.
“We met Public Enemy when we both played a show at the Millennium Dome. We ended up on stage together which was a great experience. Ludacris was happy to rap on our track which was cool. He just got on with it and did his thing,” he says.
“The collaborations we’ve done have all been great experiences. When we met Snoop Dog I was expecting to go through so many security guards, but he was down to earth and was really supportive. He was 100 per cent behind us. He was great to work with. We are all human at the end of the day.”
However, despite the undoubted success and the support of some of the industry’s household names, Surj admits RDB have not quite “made it”.
“Not yet”, he says. “Every time we undertake a project we set our goals higher and higher. We are from Bradford at the end of the day. Just releasing an album was a big achievement for us.”
However, what may have started out as three brothers just wanting to make music has already turned into something a whole lot bigger.
“Bhangra is becoming more international,” says Surj. “Bollywood is one of the biggest markets for this type of music and this helps us get our music out to places we would not expect it to reach.
“There is so much to do in so little time. We have collaborations in the pipeline and our own independent album coming out this year. We are continuing to work on the UK market and keep pushing our music out to different parts of the world.”
For more information about the Bradford brothers visit www.rdbmusic.com