Flashback to festivals past with a look at last year’s festival and all the fun that came with it. From our dope headliners and artists, to the 5X Fam that created the best vibes – we can’t wait to bring it all back this year, with so much more to get pumped about.
We’ve broken down some of the biggest names in South Asian music in Vancouver and Surrey. And we champion our success stories.
Jessie Brar is a writer, model and mental health advocate from Toronto, Ontario. Jessie is the founder if The Mental Spotlight, a project dedicated to starting conversations about mental health in the South Asian community. She also writes for Brown Girl Magazine and is dedicated to changing the narrative about what it means to be South Asian.
Sandeep Johal is a Canadian visual artist whose colourful geometric forms and intricate black and white line work is aesthetically and conceptually inspired by her South Asian heritage.
Sandeep believes in the power of art to create awareness around issues related to cultural identity, gender equality, and human rights. Her art practice is an expression of her social and cultural concerns, particularly gender justice. Her most recent series, She Left Only To Come Back (2019) is an exploration of femininity, motherhood, inter-generational trauma and loss set against a backdrop of familial obligation and self-sacrifice.
Sandeep has completed a number of mural projects, most recently for the Vancouver Art Gallery and Lululemon Park Royal stores. Her work has been featured in CBC Arts, The Vancouver Sun, The Georgia Straight, and numerous other print and online publications.
Racquel Villagante is the West Coast A&R Representative at SOCAN. Prior to joining the SOCAN’s A&R team, Racquel graduated from the Music Business Management program at Nimbus School of Recording & Media. After graduation, she took on the role as label manager for Nimbus’ in-house record label, Business Class Records, where she was responsible for signing artists & bands, project managing commercial releases, putting on live shows, and building mutually beneficial partnerships with media & sponsors. Soon after, she took on a teaching assistant position at Nimbus, and eventually worked her way up to instructor for classes in Nimbus’ Music Business program. Racquel had prior talent wrangled for the stadium event, We Day, managed artists including her sister, Kimmortal, and was a frequent contributor to HHV (Hip Hop Vancouver)—the go-to online blog for talent discovery in Vancouver’s urban music scene. Racquel’s true passion and purpose lies in connecting creatives and helping them realize and actualize their full potential
Amrit Matharu, originally from London, has had lifelong musical influences in her family, having grown up around UK Bhangra and classical instruments, playing piano and alto saxophone. Her passion for DJing became a potential reality after a short collaboration with DJ Apogee on the night of a family member’s wedding reception. Through attending the Beats by Her workshop, and with the support of DJ Khanvict and Kid Kang, she performed at the SnakesXLadders Warehouse party earlier this year. Her musical style includes old school Hip Hop and Bhangra, EDM, and Tropical House.
Jas Dhami is the man who brought you the SMASH HIT OF 2012-HIGH HEELS --- (100 million hits and counting) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tkgad9gngOQ
His popularity as an Independent artist led to top labels and production houses in India knocking on his door and 2016 has seen Jaz take his Independent success to the Bollywood stage. Additionally, Jaz Dhami superseded any Asian artist in the world by being handpicked for the BBC Music launch song in 2014, featuring 27 International artists including Pharrell Williams, Stevie Wonder, One Direction, Elton John and Sam Smith (to name a few). The song ‘God Only Knows’ has gone on to raise funds for the BBC’s Children in Need.
He has been pushing the boundaries for a while – performing to two hundred thousand people at the biggest Sikh procession in the western world in Vancouver, Canada – Vaisakhi mela. In the summer of 2012 Jaz Dhami took centre stage at Europe’s biggest outdoor mela in London to perform alongside one of the Worlds greatest Orchestras – the Philharmonia.
Malinder Tooray, also known as MTooray, is a unique entertainer, composer, recording artist and musician. MTooray, has been dominating the Indian drumming scene for the past 17 years. Born into a Sikh family, and a native of Los Angeles, her artistry was heavily influenced by her lively Indian culture. Known as the first female dhol player in North America, MTooray, is a trailblazer in the music industry.
Malinder’s career began at the age of 16 with the first brother and sister group of dhol players called, Dholnation. Self taught percussionist, MTooray, has traveled around the US performing with a many artists. Such as Sukbhir, Mickey Singh, Jaz Dhami, Arjun, Sukshinda Shinda, RDB and many more.
MTooray, caught the attention of Walt Disney . She was brought in to Capitol Records to record her dhol beats for the broadway rendition of The Jungle Book (2016).
If you’ve heard of Gully Gang out here in Mumbai, two sisters all the way in Calgary, Canada, have got their Goonda Gang. Bhagya Ramesh (Eboshi) and Priya Ramesh (Contra) are Cartel Madras, breathing in no-holds-barred rap rhymes and some much-needed cultural representation in Canada’s hip-hop circuit.
With the release of their first EP Project Goonda Part 1: Trapistan in July last year, Cartel Madras stomped into any club with their grime and trap-leaning bangers. The day is not far that they’ll release a proper Tamil rap song, but even that’s likely going to be about taking names and kicking ass.
Chaya Kumar and Shivani Bhagwan, the creators and founders of BhangraFunk and BollyFunk, have quickly become a worldwide phenomenon. Their viral YouTube dance videos featuring students from their sold-out classes in Los Angeles have caught the attention of many. They have collaborated with the King of bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan and received co-signs from other bollywood superstars like Diljit Dosanjh, Arjun Kapoor and esteemed choreographers Geeta Kapoor and Tricia Miranda.
With over 120 million cumulative views on their dance videos, Shivani and Chaya have built an enormous fan base around the world. (#FUNKFAM) This has allowed them to travel and teach workshops internationally and bring a new style of dance to many renowned dance studios. Chaya and Shivani will continue to foster a positive environment in their classes and relentlessly strive to change the conversation, eliminating labels and discussing dance as simply, dance. At age 26, their careers only continue to skyrocket into new heights.
Laydy Jams is a collective of 3 women of colour, who create music together using their various talents. Laydy Jams features Missy D as female emcee, Roya Bennett on vocals and beatbox, and Sejal on violin and vocals. Our trio bring each of our talents together to create a unique sound, with R&B, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Soul, Classical, and Funk roots. Our music and message is impacted by our diverse cultural backgrounds, with influences hailing from the West Indies, Middle East, South Asia, Europe, North and South America, and Africa.
Laydy Jams seeks to use our music to empower youth, women, and challenges the themes often used in popular music and society. Our goal is to exemplify the rich contribution that women of colour can make to music. We write our life experiences into music, knowing that we provide a kind of comfort, familiarity, and joy for other people of colour and marginalized communities; providing hope, home, and love.
Praised for her flawless voice, Kirti Arneja is a gifted vocalist from Vancouver whose Sufi style adds a special uniqueness to Hindi and Punjabi classics. Kirti has been influenced with all genre's of music since her youth, from rock to pop along with Indian classical and Punjabi folk music.
As a young child up in San Francisco, Samica started singing the songs that she was hearing on the radio to herself. After listening to her Grandmother sing at the temple every week, she started to appreciate Indian classical music along with her American influences, and at age 13 began playing guitar and writing her own songs.
Samica relocated to Los Angeles to throw herself and her music out into the world, and has been building a growing following of fans through her live shows and social media ever since. She has received recognition for her ability to merge Indian influences with Western pop and R&B, and her recent mashup of Marshmello’s English language hit “Happier” with his first Hindi single “Bipa” was even shared by the masked DJ/producer himself.
Lil India’s endless love and desire to hear Jodeci on the dancefloor is how they began DJing. With their knowledge of R&B and Hip Hop they’ve always know how to keep the crowds dancing. Staying true to their vision of playing good music and setting good vibes, they’ve successfully thrown parties for the past 6 years including Hey Lover at Fortune Sound Club and more recently Gastown’s first Bollywood to Bhangra party, JALOOS.
To share their appreciation of Indian music with their peers, they, alongside Genie, released the Strictly for My Jatts mixtape, which landed a feature on the Mad Decent blog. Lil India has opened for the likes of Chippy Nonstop, Jillionaire of Major Lazer, Nina Sky, Jasmine Solano, South Rakkas Crew, Heems, Dominique Unique Young, Roxy Cottontail and Kittens.
Kiran constructs interactive installations and performance systems that allow performers and audiences to engage with themes relating to cultural memory, embodiment and nostalgia.
She has performed and presented her works throughout North America, Asia, Europe and Australia including conferences and festivals such as MUTEK, The International Symposium on Electronic (ISEA), The Toronto International Electroacoustic Symposium, Vancouver International Jazz Festival, International Conference on Live Coding, and New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME).
Kiran holds an MA in Media Arts, a Certificate in World Performance Studies at the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Music from the University of British Columbia.
Born and raised in India, Mickey began singing at the tender age of 3. After moving to the US at 14, Mickey explored his musical creativity and developed an artistic blend of South Asian and western sounds. With support from his family to pursue his artistic passion he recognized the importance of heritage and culture no matter where you might live in the world.
Taking a different approach to Urban-Desi fusion Mickey is set to truly bridge the gap between Indian and American music genres. His music energetic and smooth at the same time creatively laces the best of east and west in a way that audiences everywhere can relate to. On stage Mickey creatively incorporates Hip Hop and Bhangra dance and is sure to get you out of your seats. Not being afraid to think outside the box, this singer/songwriter/producer is a breath of fresh-air in a market of overly commercial manufactured sounds.
Kunaal Gurbaxani aka GURBAX is definitely one of the freshestDJ/producers to watch out for in the Indian bass music scene.
From metal-head to bass-head, his journey started in the city of Bengaluru where he played guitar in punk rock and thrash metal bands. Moving to Atlanta for college was like a blessing for him since it was there that he discovered his love for bass-music. “It really was an easy transition" he says, "They both encompassed my love for heavy music. However, I could never really relate to the metal culture of angst and destruction. With the bass scene, on the other hand, it was more than just the music–there was a sense of family in the underground culture of pure energy, love and happiness that really resonated with me and drew me in”.
Now, a self-taught DJ and Ableton-certified producer from the Dubspot School of Music Production in New York City, he has played shows in and around Atlanta and NYC including a recent performance at ADE(Amsterdam Dance Event). He is now looking to catalyze the bass music movement in India. In a short span of 4 years since moving back, he has managed to play in every corner of the Indian sub-continent, gather multiple millions of plays online, hit#1on the Indian iTunes Electronic MusicCharts with his track ‘Aghori', as well as share the stage with a range of well-reputed artists such as Steve Aoki, Marshmello, NGHTMRE,Slander, Troyboi, Herobust, David Satori (Beats Antique), Christina Novelli, SpagHeddy, Hang Massive, GANZ, JSTJR, Fabian Mazur, LUUDE and GAUDI to name a few
Sandy Kaur Gill (SKG) better known as TheSandyLion is an elementary school teacher, image consultant and stylist with the simple goal of helping people look and feel the best about themselves.
She has clients from all walks of life, from helping celebrities on the red carpet, helping you look great for date night, to helping you re-vamp your closet to feel like a new you. She has worked closely with public figures including Lilly Singh, Jay Shetty, Beena Minhaj, and Humble The Poet.
Sandy is a brand ambassador for Neostrata, Gillette Venus and Nike, and has worked with other notable brands including HP, Guess Jeans, Aldo Shoes and Hayley Elsaesser. She also works as an elementary school teacher in Brampton, and has partnered with organizations to help spread access to education to girls around the world. She has also written and illustrated her own children's book promoting literacy and universal access to education, titled "Reading all Around the World."
Sandy creates content online with the goal of helping others find confidence within themselves and look stylish within a budget. She promotes creativity over couture. She also released many of her own creations including a line of head-wraps and handkerchiefs, and Hip Hop tops.
Sandy is a proud and active aunt of 1 niece and 4 nephews, she enjoys intense workouts, and has an unhealthy relationship with her Dyson vacuum.
TKC Design Inc. is a Vancouver based fashion label, that is all about the embodiment of color and creating conversation through clothing. The owner, Taranjit (Taran) Cheema, is a Canadian-born designer who explores mix media and always strives to create unique and inspirational pieces. Taran graduated from Parsons, The New School for Design in Manhattan, with a Bachelor in Fine Arts. Her thesis collection was presented at the prestigious Parson Fashion Benefit Gala and was sought out by Lady Gaga's stylist, Brandon Maxwell. She received an in depth experience in to the fashion industry during her internship with Donna Karan, Diane Von Furstenburg, Milk Studios and Stella McCartney. Since graduation Taran has been sponsored for Vancouver Fashion Week for 5 years and has launched her own label, TKC Design Inc. 2 years ago. Inspired by color and rich textures, TKC Design Inc. hopes to inspire a movement of endless possibilities and innovative design with purpose.
DIVINE is an award-winning rapper & hip-hop artist from Mumbai, India. Born and brought up in the ‘gullies’ of Mumbai, DIVINE has come to be known as ‘the Voice of the Streets’ - narrating tales of the people that he's grown up observing since childhood - and paying homage to the characteristics of the city. Vivian Fernandes aka DIVINE came into the limelight when his award winning 2013 release “Yeh Mera Bombay” went viral and thereafter received a lot exposure on local radio stations across the country as well as international platforms such at Beats1 Worldwide and the BBC Asian Network. His 2015 summer-smash “Mere Gully Mein” was not only honoured as the BEST VIDEO OF 2015 by Rolling Stone India, it also established him as one of the premier hip-hop acts in India and garnered him an international listenership. This further escalated DIVINE when he was titled BEST NEW ARTIST 2015 by iTunes and Apple Music in India and as one of the top ARTISTS TO WATCH-OUT FOR IN 2016 by the BBC Asian Network
Rakhi Mutta is a Toronto-based filmmaker, writer, producer, and owner of Ms Mutta Productions Inc. Her successful projects include the hit viral video Punjabi Mime Thru Time, the popular web-series Anarkali, and the haunting performance exhibit, The Good Indian Bride. She is currently in development of The Sweetest Lie, an online murder mystery web-series. Along with her production work, she is the personal manager of New York Times best-selling author Rupi Kaur.
Rakhi worked in global community development for over 14 years, creating the international non-profit organization Kahaniya, focused on providing tools of documentation for communities whose experiences are often ignored by mainstream media.
This multitalented woman is carving out a space for artists who dare to share refreshing and exhilarating stories with the world.
Artist, designer, and master marketer, Imroze Singh, also known as Shmeer, is a multidisciplinary creator based in Vancouver. currently working as a Content Producer for a non-profit he’s also involved in a lot of community-related projects. Rocking the best turban designs in Vancouver, you can always spot this creative from a mile away.
rakinder and rajan, are on a mission to fail at everything until they find what's most fun. dontdoze exists to artifact expression and to encourage others to do the same. Painting since 2013, photographing since 2014, exhibiting since 2015, popping up galleries since 2016. Bringing together sound and film to tell immersive stories is their current endeavor. They'll tell you more about themselves when they feel like it; for now enjoy the art and talk less than you listen.
Karman Kang, also known as DJ Kid Kang, is a multi-talented individual that takes the DJ world to another level with his unique skills. He has a deep musical knowledge background in different genres of music including: Hip-Hop, EDM, Punjabi, House, Top-40 and Bollywood. KId Kang is also a master at crowd interaction so whether he's playing a short skit on stage or is hyping up the crowd, his MC skills will keep you engaged all night.
DJ Apogee, aka the bearded man, is an award winning DJ and Music Producer based in Vancouver. His trending remixes and podcasts consist of Bhangra, Bollywood, Hip-Hop, EDM, Old School, Top 40s and many more. He also has fun experimenting with heavy bass combined with electronica, acoustic, and dhol creating a great chemistry between him and the audience.
Dubbed "Ambassador of Bhangra" by the New York Times and NPR, DJ Rekha has done remixes for artists that range from Meredith Monk to Priyanka Chopra.
Rekha was the sound designer for the TONY award‐winning Broadway Show, "Bridge and Tunnel", and received a Drama Desk Award nomination for her work on the play "Rafta Rafta" and was the associate producer for the NPR Radio Documentary, "A Feet in Two Worlds."
DJ Rekha pioneered merging Bhangra and Bollywood sounds with contemporary electronic dance music. She is the founder of Basement Bhangra™, Bollywood Disco and co-founder of Mutiny Club nights.
Now inducted into the New York City's Peoples’ Hall of Fame, DJ Rekha has curated events for Celebrate Brooklyn, Central Park SummerStage and has performed at the White House for President Obama.
You can hear her weekly podcast Bhangra and Beyond on BTR Today.
Desi Sub Culture makes Global bass dance music. Whether it's using an old Punjabi folk song as the hook for a trap beat, or using tabla rhythms to inspire a twerk workup, they come strong from their roots. It’s not just combing through sample libraries choosing random exotic sounds. Desi Sub Culture is telling the story of our lives and sharing the music they grew up with, creating the musical version of ourselves, their upbringing, and their identity.
Gary Luddu, also known as DJ Swift, is a skilled DJ who was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. At 16, Swift decided to take up DJing as a hobby, soon saving up to buy his own set of turntables and mixer so he could master the art of mixing.
Aside from his seamless mixing, Swift runs an incredible series of Bhangra podcasts on Soundcloud that averages over 40,000 plays monthly. His creative mind has led him to blend, mix, and match Bhangra tracks with Western tracks in an unbelievable way.
Asad Khan, professionally known as Khanvict, is a Pakistani-Canadian DJ and producer based in Surrey, BC. Having arrived as an immigrant in 2001, Khanvict explores his roots through his music. His style blends elements of classic Bollywood, Sufi and Panjabi music with Bass, Moombahton and Trap.
KayRay (Kiran Rai) is an actress and filmmaker who uses her online platform to address taboos in the South Asian community. Her short films include Kirpa, a story about an arts student trying to pursue her dreams while struggling to fulfill her parents wishes, Ananke, which talks about dating violence, and Haneri, which is centered around mental health within the Punjabi community.
She also stars in Ms Mutta’s hit show Anarkali, now in its third season on YouTube
Born and raised in Jalandhar, Jasmine Sandlas is a Punjabi artist and performer who has been featured at TEDx Talks, MTV Coke Studio and Spoken Word. After her first song "Muskan" became a hit, she began a Bollywood playback singing career with the song "Yaar Na Miley" for the film Kick. "Yaar Na Miley" was an instant viral success, topping the charts and earning Sandlas wide critical acclaim for her voice, including "Most popular song of year 2016 - PTC Punjabi Film Awards & Screen Award for Best Female Playback.
Jasmine’s songs have earned hundreds of millions of views on YouTube, and she’s just getting started.
Raman Samra is a self-taught visual artist known for her bold and striking paintings. Each portrait captures the soul of her subjects, driven and influences by her passion for music and pop culture. Raman also works as a counsellor and art therapist, striving to engage her community with the arts and make creative expression accessible for everyone.
Ruchi Pasricha is a self-taught photographer based in Vancouver, BC.
Ruchi's passion has always been art from an early age. Drawing and painting since the age of 5 in New Delhi,
Ruchi is now a portrait photographer working with models and makeup artists in Vancouver. She mainly likes to take vintage, conceptual and natural light portraits with a film-like aesthetic in a digital medium.
Anu Chouhan is one of Canada’s most popular South Asian illustrators, creating iconic characters and webcomics at @anumation on Instagram. A professional mobile game artist by day, Anu is a classically trained animator who draws inspiration from video games, movies, nature, and the South Asian Canadian community. Her unique, edgy, and energetic art has been featured in major publications, celebrated by celebrities, and loved by tens of thousands of people every day.
A Ludhiana original, MBA and Punjabi music star Navv Inder checks all the boxes. After shooting to fame with his song Wakhra Swag (116 million YouTube views and counting), Navv took home the PTC Punjabi Music Award for Most Popular Song of the Year 2016 and Best Duo 2016 for his collaboration with megastar Badshah.
Beyoncé + Boliyan
Manpreet Toor is transforms dance. Taking the traditional expression of bhangra and the contemporary flair of Bollywood, Manpreet has created something new and instantly recognizable in Indian American culture.
With over 15 years of professional dance, choreography and teaching experience, Manpreet launched in to YouTube stardom with the iconic "Bollywood vs. Bhangra", and now has over 60 million video views on her Dance With Manpreet channel in addition to featuring in countless others, including J Balvin, Willy WIlliam, and Beyoncé’s official music video for “Mi Gente”
Over 1 million followers watch Manpreet across YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, inspired by and learning from her videos and dance studio every single day.