Diwahi Bappi Lahriri

I’m completely fascinated by Indian string sections, and have been for a while. The music is completely sensual, and very pretty, and again, more to do with instincts than brains. I think my love of it has a lot to do with having to deal with England. I’m eventually falling in love with England, of course, but like all flirting periods, it’s a lot to do with being hard to get. When I tried to get into English culture, I always ended up going out and buying Indian music. I’m a visitor here : I call myself an immigrant housewife. I hang out with the Indians in Southall and go to Thai takeaways. Indian culture is beautiful, more so than the English. I felt some sort of sup- port, or sympathy there. I felt like I belonged there.

I don’t know much about Bappi Lahriri. I just know that if I buy 10 Indian albums, and one is by Bappi, I’m safe. Snake Dance is a film soundtrack which me and Nellie really got into when we were making my album, and ended up sending two of my songs to Bombay where Indian strings were recorded. Indian soundtracks have this incredibly pure sound. They’ve tried to record string sections in England, top quality microphones, top quality Indian musicians, the lot, but it’s just not the same. Tarvin Singh, who plays with my band and who works a lot in Bombay, told me that the sound engineers there are so used to working under poor conditions that their ears are incredible, and they can get that particularly earthy sound. Apparently tabla players all surround one microphone, and they can tell exactly who it is who is playing out of tune.

Q magazine, october 1993