MUSIC: Bhangra star Jazzy B: ‘I’m just normal Jas’ while visiting native Surrey

StarWalk Star ceremony on Granville Street may happen this September

Jazzy B first performed at Surrey Fusion Festival in 2008

“I just finished training,” Jaswinder Bains revealed on the phone when the Now called on a recent Friday morning.

“Gotta keep fit, man. When I’m in Canada, in Surrey, I’m always working out here (at Fit Nation, on 64th Avenue), for sure.”

Bains is known around the globe as Jazzy B, a singer and actor dubbed “The Crown Prince of Bhangra,” but in and around his native Surrey, he’s eager to answer to the name Jas.

“Surrey is always going to be home,” Bains insisted. “I grew up here, went to school here, so most of my memories are here, where it all started for me. And every time I’m here, I’m just normal Jas, not Jazzy B, because all my friends used to call me Jas.

“It actually feels great to come home and see everybody and just be a normal person,” he continued. “It’s funny, because every time someone calls me Jas, I know that person knows me from back in the day, it’s a friend, because nobody calls me Jas now, know what I mean? I can tell right away.”

Bains, in Surrey to visit friends and family, splits his time between here, Birmingham, England, and India, where he was born.

While here in Canada, he worked on details surrounding his recent induction into the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame. Jazzy B is among five new StarWalk Stars recipients, announced on May 24, and a ceremony for him on a Granville Street sidewalk will take place in September.

The other Starwalk inductees this year are actor Michael J. Fox and fellow musicians Joe Keithley, Marcus Mosely and Hal Beckett. The award is given to those who have “enhanced the province’s cultural profile, both locally and on the world stage.”

Bains was nominated for the award by Surrey-based pals Bobby Nagra and R. Paul Dhillon.

“I didn’t even know anything about it,” Bains related. “They didn’t tell me they were doing that until I was actually going to be one of the guys to get it. So they told me and I was pretty shocked – happy and emotional at the same time. I’m this kid from Surrey and nobody knew who I was, and now I’m getting a Starwalk? Wow, that’s a big thing for me. That’s icing on the cake.”

In the early 1990s, Bains roamed the hallways and classrooms of Frank Hurt and, later, Princess Margaret secondary schools. At the time, he was big into music made by Eazy-E, Motley Crue and other rap and metal bands.

“I moved schools because we moved house,” Bains explained. “We used to live by 140th (Street) and 76th (Avenue), and my parents sold that house. I hated leaving that house because all my friends from school, we all used to play hockey around there and we knew everybody, all the parents and the kids knew everything about everybody, and it’s hard to make a switch like that, but I had no choice.”

On the streets of Newton and also in school, Bains became something of a hockey expert.

“In high school I actually did a project on Wayne Gretzky and I got a hundred out of a hundred on it. I’m a big fan. Wayne Gretzky is still my favourite player, and obviously he really looked up to Gordie Howe,” Bains said on June 10, when news of Howe’s death was spreading on social media.

On Twitter, he was quick to tweet out his appreciation of Howe, to the 360,000 followers of his account.

“There’s that connection, and I’ve always been a fan of hockey. The only thing I’ve missed while in India is hockey, because they don’t show it on any channels.… I do love my sports.”

One thing Bains loved about Gordie Howe is how he always stopped to sign autographs for fans.

“You try to learn things like that from the legends, man, like him and Wayne Gretzky,” he said.

On the music side of things, rap legend Snoop Dogg was among Bains’ collaborators for the gangsta-vibe song “Most Wanted,” released as a video last fall. (SEE VIDEO BELOW)

Looking ahead, Bains is working on an album called “Folk N Funky 2,” due for release later this year, and said he’d love to work on a track with Drake, a fellow Canadian.

“That’d be a big thing,” he said. “My management is talking to his management to see where things go, whether we can come together to do something.”

Bains has fond memories of headlining Surrey Fusion Festival in both 2008 and again last year.

(STORY CONTINUES BELOW VIDEO)

“It’s always great doing Fusion Festival, and the reason is because it’s all these different communities, different cultures, people coming there, and some of them don’t understand what I’m even saying but I see them enjoy it, dancing, laughing,” Bains said.

“The funny thing last year, I saw most of my friends from high school who were non-Indian, and I saw them in the crowd and yelled out some of their names and they were shocked that I remembered them,” he continued. “It’s always a great feeling performing in front of your own people, those you grew up with. It’s a proud thing that I’m this guy from Surrey who went global, you know?”

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com

 

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