Staff Spotlight: Bhupinder Chaggar

By Joe Foote

Posted

BA (Hons) Music (Production)
BC2

Bhupinder Chaggar

Bhupinder has an esteemed background in Indian classical music, and is an extremely experienced Tabla player who has performed alongside many established artists from varying musical backgrounds. Alongside performing and developing musically, Bhupinder had always been interested in the reproduction of sound and all the facets of music production. Bhupinder is the Curriculum Manager on the BA (Hons) Music (Production) course. 

Can you tell us more about your introduction to music and your background in Indian Classical Music?

I have been playing Tabla since the age of 4 years old, I have no idea why or how, because I was the only person out of my entire family with the deep desire to learn and play music.  I spent lots of time in the Gurudwara playing every Sunday in the services, much like the community church musicians.  From here onwards, I developed a desire to study the fine art of Indian Classical music.  In the search of this, I met my Tabla Guru, Pt. Sharda Sahai ji (fellow of LC) who saw my dedication and passion to learn and perform.  He accepted me as a disciple, which meant I would imbibe his music as he would teach his own family members.  I then lived with my Guru Ji to learn music.  It was an extremely intense experience to say the least, one which impacted my whole life, being, thoughts, personality and of course my music.  There is no parallel example that I can give you that comes close to describing the relationship that I had developed with my Guru Ji.  Just that I am eternally grateful to the almighty for having his presence in my life.  This learning is known as the Guru Shishya Parampara (Teacher, disciple tradition).  That has been the bedrock of my musical understanding and has given me some incredible experiences of performing all over the world and with a range of incredible artists from a very diverse background.

You made a transition from a traditional way of learning Indian Classical to the reproduction of sound and all many facets of music production. How did this transition inform your current style? 

I had been involved in the sound reproduction (live sound) again from a very young age, again from the gurudwara services and other functions that I attended as a youngster.  I took every opportunity to learn and gain solid experience in how to connect and operate sound gear.  I was intrigued by it and fascinated by the science behind it.  Again, this passion took me forward and led me to being involved in lots of community related projects where I would often provide perform Tabla, do the live sound, record, edit and mix to provide a finished product.  This led to me starting a small production company that recorded artists, produced tracks, mixed, CD duplication etc. I love the fact that I could do all of this and have fun doing it and earn money too. At the same time, I was touring with a flamenco artist, touring with a very successful global fusion band (that I also co-produced as well) and playing Indian classical gigs as well.  As long as I can remember, I have been imparting whatever knowledge I have gained with others, both formally and informally.  It was a very natural transition for me and I was able to walk from a Indian Classical stage/gig/recording, straight into a Jazz fusion band and play with them. 

This has ended up with me having a portfolio career where either area has been in focus, based on opportunities of the current time.  To date I have developed the aptitude to perform with all sorts of artists/musical heritage.  I am a composer and have worked on numerous projects such as theatre scores, film composition, iPhone app composition, fusion composition.  This goes hand in hand with my production as well.  Having worked on so many different kinds of productions.  Ranging from working with orchestras in Prague to bands in Yorkshire.  However, now I see myself more as a mixer.  I work closely with a rising star composer of India, Girishh G, where I am now his go to mixer/producer.  I also spend time handling the logistics for a global AV team.  This involves doing the live sound/video for events for up to 25,000 people.  Sounds crazy but it is true and I do make the time to do all of this, whilst being a family man too!

BC 1

You’ve gone onto collaborate with a variety of musicians throughout your career. What have been some of your highlights to date?

With immense blessings/fortune, I have worked with many great artists ranging from the top most Indian Classical musicians to Flamenco, mainstream pop, percussionists, producers, orchestras.  There are too many to list but are not forgotten by me!  Some of the highlights have been working with Portugese percussion master Rui Junior, Soul diva, Jocelyn Brown, The Halle, Rakesh Chaurasia, Michael Henderson, Bassist of Miles Davis and Stevie Wonder plus many others…but equally I love collaborating with the immensely talented local artists who I have grown up knowing and performing with.

How did your time studying at Leeds Conservatoire help you to develop as a musician?

My time at Leeds Conservatoire, cemented my desire and passion to continue this never ending journey or learning, performing, teaching, producing and propelled it forwards.  It opened my eyes into areas of production and music that I was ignorant to.  I remember sitting in music cupboards for 6 hours at a time jamming with drummers, bassists, conga players, saxophonists…I was like a kid in a sweet shop.  I was lapping up every opportunity and started to become the instigator of many new initiatives and ideas going forward.

You’ve gone onto collaborate with a variety of musicians throughout your career. What have been some of your highlights to date?

With immense blessings/fortune, I have worked with many great artists ranging from the top most Indian Classical musicians to Flamenco, mainstream pop, percussionists, producers, orchestras.  There are too many to list but are not forgotten by me!  Some of the highlights have been working with Portugese percussion master Rui Junior, Soul diva, Jocelyn Brown, The Halle, Rakesh Chaurasia, Michael Henderson, Bassist of Miles Davis and Stevie Wonder plus many others…but equally I love collaborating with the immensely talented local artists who I have grown up knowing and performing with.

As a lecturer and successful musician, what advice do you give to your students looking to make the most of their time at the Conservatoire?

Quite simple really – don’t let any opportunity pass you by.  Every lecture, every masterclass, every workshop, performance, gig, meeting, jam session, studio session…each one missed is letting go of the golden thread of learning which is delicate and must be respected.

Do not underestimate wisdom and experience.

Cooking an exceptional dish takes years of craft, skill but most of all, experience and the very passion that makes you want to do it in the first place

You also work as the head of music at South Asian Arts UK. Can you detail some more about your role at the organisation and the importance of this charity?

I am a man of the community and have 100’s of students.  I love them all and my work with SAA-UK allows me to interact with them, guide their musical education and open up their eyes to the bigger picture.  Music has given me so much and I wish and hope that they have the same amazing journey I am having…


Find out more about the BA (Hons) Music (Production) pathway at Leeds Conservatoire.

By Joe Foote

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