How would you describe yourself?
I have a big mouth, I would say! (Laughs) I like to be as honest as possible. I don’t like to be too diplomatic about stuff. That’s why I always had that reputation when I was a kid, when I first tried to rap and do hip-hop, I have been criticized, called names and ill-treated. I had all these struggles. I wanted to do what I feel is the right thing. The strength definitely comes from my mom. I guess that I have become stronger over the years. I feel very gifted. It’s like a job given to me by God. Just need to make a few changes and you have to be very strong to do this. I have been strong-minded.
How did you decide the title of “Sherni” for your single?
A lot of people tease me and call me ‘Sherni’! (Laughs) They call me all kinds of names – good ones and bad ones! Everybody calls me ‘Sherni’ because obviously I argue my point, I am very honest, even in front of the press and media. I say whatever meant to be said, whatever is right is right. So a lot of people call me ‘Sherni’, especially for a girl, in a male-dominated industry. A lot of people give me a lot of respect for being here for 21 years, still doing this, and being at the top, they called me “Sherni” for that. When I was writing the song, I have chanelled a lot of anger through the song. “Sherni” is just me, finally something that is me. The reaction and feedback I have got from the song is really amazing. I am so happy. Everybody is so happy and saying, this is so you! So Hard Kaur!
What have been the turning-points in your life?
(After a long pause) The travel. Unless you travel and you go all around the world, you won’t grow. For growth, I think travelling is really important. You know the constant fight of trying to prove people wrong. Basically not quitting. No matter what you do in life, it is going to be hard. And then comes the time where you have to just tie up your laces and go, and I am not going to quit, no matter how hard it is. When you quit, you spoil the whole thing. You just have to hang on further a bit.
“Sherni” is inspired by the issue of women empowerment. Are you directly involved in any activity related to it?
Do you remember the Delhi gang rape that happened four years ago? The song was ready since then. And some stupid people said that I should release it. “Something so messed up has happened and I am supposed to be promoting my song to take advantage of it?”, I asked them. So I put the song away in my hard drive and I didn’t even look at it until last year, when my friend said that I should release the song, as it is really good. Then I said, I will do it. Till this day, when I open Facebook, I see posts which say, “Sorry, you deserve everything that happened to you because you are wearing short clothes or a small skirt!”. We want to keep up with the latest phones in India . But where is the latest mentality in India? I am just kind of tired of all of this. I think every girl needs to be a “sherni”. In rap, this is a universal issue. It is not just in India. I am the only female rapper doing it. If you look at worldwide, there are so many amazing female rappers but how many female rappers do you know? All this is because of marketing and promotion in this male dominated industry. All of this does not make sense to me.
Why are you not collaborating with male rappers like Yo Yo Honey Singh, Raftaar and Badshah?
So whenever I get asked the question when they mention those three names, I get so irritated because first of all, I think Raftaar is a really good guy but I don’t call those guys rappers. And secondly, why is everybody asking me about those three names? Why don’t people say to me, what do I think of Divine, Neezy, Fateh? These are super talented rappers and I really like them. But not many people have heard of them because they talk about real things. Divine is an amazing rapper and he doing really well for himself. There is a lot of marketing and promotion which has been put behind Badshah, Yo Yo Honey Singh and Raftaar. We all know that. Why do we never discuss Divine, Neezy? That’s the whole problem here. I try to wait for female rappers to come out from India and a lot of them want to do it, but they do not do it properly.
You are often quoted as the only noted female Indian rapper. Who are the other female rappers in India, do you know?
None! Even in UK, none. When I was about 21-22, I have tried to get some girls who wanted to do rap, record their tracks, book a show and I am getting a call before the show, saying, “Oh I don’t want to do this anymore because my boyfriend doesn’t want me to!” Don’t do it for the wrong reasons. A lot of people just want the pay or want the glamorous life. If you don’t love hip-pop or if you are not mad about it, there is no point of you doing it.
How do you react when trash is written about you?
I laugh! (Laughs loudly). I find it hillarious. 98% of the time, I laugh and that 2%, sometimes, I get really upset. I am a human being. If I cared about what people said and thought, then I would never have started this. I would have just got married and made babies!
How much have you learned in music since “Ek Glassy” and “Move Your Body” from ‘Johnny Gaddar’?
A lot. My writing has kept on improving. The main thing that I got really good at now is composition. I got better and better at composing. Being a music director, that really helps. I am trying to make it as music director.
Are you ready for the challenges of being a music director in Bollywood, as you recently expressed your wish to become one?
There are not many females. There are like 1-2 girls. There are a couple of others as well and they were actually doing programming. They have the technical skills. That’s brilliant. It is happening. We all have to fight. I have been learning all my life. The good thing is that I just launched my new record label. I never thought of doing this, 5-10 years ago. I am a small fish. I am learning everything. I have launched Future Records India and I am learning everything. And I am going to do this and “Sherni” is my first release on my label. I am super happy about this.
What are your future plans of your own label Future Records India?
There is this kid, I saw him singing when he was about 11 years old and he smashed it on TV (talent reality shows). So I tried to look for that kid for four years and nobody would give me the numbers. Then I found him. He said he gave up music because nobody helps anyone. People promise things but they do not do anything. I am his fan. I gave him a boost and I didn’t want this kid to quit. So I started recording his tracks. So he thought, “Hard Kaur is recording with me, so I must be okay!” So I gave him that boost back into him. I have found him, I am managing him, so that no-one can screw with his head. He is so young and he has just turned 18. I am getting him into performances and I am going to release his single. He will be performing in India next week where everyone can see him at once.
Why are you not singing in Bollywood these days, like you used to?
Because they are making the same old tracks. I am bored. I did “Char Baj Gaye” from ‘F.A.L.T.U.’ I tried to do something different. Then I tried the “Sadda Dil Vi Tu (Ga Ga Ga Ganpati)” from ‘ABCD’. That’s just Hard Kaur. And it is the most played record every Ganpati. I am not making any tracks that do not make sense. Sometimes I go, “Maybe am I sure because I need the money, but then I am like ‘Nahhhhhhhhhhh” (Laughs).
Are you happy with your musical career at the moment?
Yeah. Super happy. I might not be earning loads of money but my heart is so happy. I am super satisfied, calm and peaceful.
What have you seen in the evolution of rap over the years?
A lot of people would hear doing their thing and the platforms are more available. There is definitely more coming out of the shelf but it is amazing like the amount of talent I have seen in India. And I am not talking about just rap. There is a lot of talent coming up now. It feels so great. It is going to be good from here, good days, for everybody.
Your birthday was on Friday 29th July. How did you celebrate?
I was in press conferences all day! (Laughs) I cut about 14 cakes, every interview, I went to!
How do you cope with stress?
I watch a lot of comedy movies and eat a lot! (Laughs) That is the best thing to do. Chill out, put my phone away. My cook is so nice. The other good thing to relieve stress is when I am going to see my brother’s kids. And when you play with kids, you forget your own worries and it is fun. And this is one of the best therapies.
What kind of images have you retained from your childhood?
My mom working hard, after my father passing away. 1984 riots, I still have those visions of that night. The curfew and the riots. I would say she is the real Hard Kaur!
What frustrates you most about yourself?
The fact that sometimes I get really angry at dumb people (just ignore them sometimes) but try to educate them. Sometimes I just have to leave it and ignore them.
Do you get hurt easily?
Yeah I am very sensitive. This is Hard Kaur on the outside, Soft Kaur on the inside!!! (Laughs)
What are your future plans in the music sphere?
I am just going to do as much as I can on this label which I have launched (Future Records India). I have another track coming, which I composed and I wrote. It is in English and romantic. It is sung by Jubin Nautiyal. I like to do work with him. He is very under-rated and he is such a lovely guy. The track with the kid is coming too. Then there is a movie track coming. And I am also acting (not that I want to) in a Bollywood movie, which is a very small role, playing like a don’s daughter (laughs), where I am brat.