“When I Pick Up That Dhol It’s The Shock Factor That Females Can Play In A Male Dominated Industry That’s What I Love About My Job”. Parv Kaur Eternal Taal

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Who is Parv?

I can talk for England! But I am energetic, passionate and very driven. I see directions rather than obstacles and then I see the end result. I have been doing this for 25 years. I was brought up around music. I grew up with nothing and we all lived in one bedroom with 2 families. You learn to appreciate the little things in life. To achieve something that’s Parv in a nutshell. 

Before the music what were you doing before that?

Before music, I was in Year 8 trying to pass my GCSE’s (laughing) I was getting told off by my mum. I remember my mum was getting me to get in the kitchen to learn how to make roti and sabji’s (Indian curries) I remember saying no I want to play music. I want to play my Dhol and my Dholki. I picked up a martial art and I trained for 10 years also. I was a black belt! I was then teaching other martial arts. My family also did martial arts. In my heart music was inside me. A passion. If I didn’t have that then I think I’d be in the martial arts game. 

What is your day job?

I am a computer science lecturer. As I knew I couldn’t rely on music as a profession as I’m female and it’s a male industry. I took up a day job there are many struggles with that. I went and studied at college. I then fell into computer science

Do you play any other instruments other than Dhol? 

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Yes! My baby is my dhol. But because of my musical background, I picked up Dholki, Tabla and harmonium also drums. In the ’90s there was no studio’s obviously in my fathers musical background all rehearsals were at home. So that’s where I picked up how to play. I just wanted to learn everything. 

 

You picked upon that your father was in a band back in the 1960s do you always get tied to your dad and what he did musically?

Yes and no. My dad is 65 years old. He has more gig’s than me (laughing) As it is a male-dominated industry you have to remember that. It was hard. I mean when there was a gig the men were the musicians. No women came to weddings. The cameraman was male even down to the caterers. So when I fell into music I used to love going to the gigs. But it was all men. There was never ever women. So that really hit home for me. 

 

Before setting up Eternal Taal where was your first performance? 

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I was performing a lot with my dad. In the 90’s they were at their peak. I remember sitting at a wedding at the back with my Dhol and no one could hear me but I was playing. But the band consisted of family. So I never felt out of place. I remember doing Vaisakhi shows. I was young and I was about 13 years old. My music teacher was a massive part as she was pushing me to do my best with it. But at home, my mum wasn’t happy about me playing. I knew I could achieve something more with music. My dad never stopped me he was very encouraging. I was the only one who was into music out of my siblings.

Why the name Eternal Taal? 

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My dad, he loves movies so when ET came out he named me ET. He loved the film. That film my parents went to watch at the cinema. My dad said no matter what boy or girl I will name them ET. So I was born and my nickname was ET. So growing up with that name it could be embarrassing. So whenever I did shows they used to call us out as the ET Dhol Group. As I got older I wanted to change the name. I was a Tomboy growing up so my friends were male. Then we came up with the name Eternal Taal. I didn’t want Dhol in the name. So I wanted to mix it up to a wider audience. 

 

Why did you set Eternal Taal up?

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As it was just me and I was playing with my dad. I managed to get a job and I did my driving lessons with that but I also saved every penny I could. I also did strawberry picking and I was saving a pound a box at the age of 14. I purchased my own car when I was working at Mcdonalds. My dad I didn’t want to rely on. I wanted to start something where females can be part of it. So I started it with 2 of my friends and it was different and this was in 1999. It was different because a girl was playing. This is what I wanted to achieve. 

Eternal Taal hasn’t just set standards in the UK Bhangra industry but has broken through to Non-Asian Industry. Do you agree?

 

Yes! I definitely have done that. I need to encourage females a lot more. But there is so much I want to do. I wanted to change mindset. I have Muslim, Gujarati and English students it a big mixture. Its for the wider audience. They feel comfortable in my class. As I am female also. We have approached by a lot of people. As we stand out as we are females. We are different and we are females that can play. I can’t remember the last time I played at an all Punjabi gig. We have a brand also. 

 

In 2010 you were awarded the “contribution of Bhangra Music in the UK” How was that for you?

It was amazing! Not only were we awarded in the House Of Commons we also performed there as well. So we actually opened the ceremony. There was a mixture of people. We rocked that place! The atmosphere was just brilliant. It was such a big achievement. This was my most memorable experience for me. I can’t explain it. 

 

What was the most memorable place you performed?

All the stages for me is memorable no matter where you play that’s a memory for me. But I have to say Glastonbury. We took ET members and even a 9-year-old performed. They saw us perform somewhere else and we was asked to perform. That was just something else! That stage was mad. We was camping there. Just brilliant. 

 

Have you ever performed where someone was rude to you or was negative?

Yes many times! Especially at Asian Punjabi gigs and the males will look at you and say oh you are playing Dhol. You know like I shouldn’t be there! They judge us. That wasn’t easy. But that was a while ago. But now things are changing. I think it was the fact we are girls. I have been sworn at and told to get off the stage. You wouldn’t get that now. We have progressed a lot more now. 

 

Who was the most memorable person you played with?

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My dad without a doubt and with his band. I mean I remember performing with DCS at my sisters wedding and I was only 16 years old. That was was mad. I loved it. I was fortunate to have music in my blood. 

 

I remember watching a documentary of your dad and you was in there “Sikhs Of Smethwick”  How was that talking about your experiences?

It was a great experience. I wasn’t nervous in speaking about it. It was great that they did a documentary of my dad he retired that day. It all fell into place. But having mainstream TV channel want to talk to someone from Smethwick and what he did on a daily basis is just massive. They interviewed my mum as well. My dad was singing to my mum ( laughing) It was a great documentary. My mums marriage was based on late nights and the band rehearsing it was hard for them. They worked so hard. It was so different back then. 

 

Being a female and in a predominately male industry. Was it hard for people to take you seriously?

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No one took me seriously or even the team! It was really hard when it did take off I had to work extra hard. I had to get many girls to join it took me 5 years to do this. As girls didn’t want to do music as some females weren’t allowed. In 2007 we had then more females. The males in the group couldn’t handle it. The transition was hard. We had people saying negative things online. It was hard. But now we are here and becoming successful in our own right. 

 

What motivated you to do the Dhol Classes?

It was ideally to get girls to join the Dhol class. This all started in 1999. I remember the place was small. I printed the flyers in school and since then my classes have grown. 

 

Who is your inspiration and role model?

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My dad. I’m saying my dad and also all the Bhangra legends as they lived of their passion. They didn’t do it for money or You Tube hits as that wasn’t around. But it was driven with passion. They performed in all places. The day timers were the biggest! My first day timer was RDB and Sahara and I will never forget that! So my inspiration is too all the Bhangra Legends. 

 

There was a debate recently about Men saying that women shouldn’t be dancing to Bhangra or even playing instruments. What’re your views on that?

Yes I heard that! I think its stupid. Its that mentality that stops girls doing music. There is no academy out there to help girls to achieve music. I feel really angry about this. For me I need a contract when I take a gig so everyone is on the same page. But girls should be able to do what they want. If they want to do music they should be able to do this. Things are slowly changing. But we need to push more. 

 

Are your family supportive in what you do?

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Music is kept in the family. This is Parv’s Dad and her 2 nieces.

Yes everyone supports me. Even my friends of 20 years are still with me and support me. My husband is not in the music scene and it works. I wanted to find someone who was the complete opposite. I like fact we are opposite. My husband doesn’t judge and he’s just a great person and isn’t into music. He supports me with everything. 

 

You are so energetic and positive have you always been that way?

Yes! I like to be a positive. I always talk about things that people don’t like talking about. I can’t help that. But I am vocal in that way. But I always stay up beat. Also I have had backlash because of that. But I run a business where I safe guard my team also. But you have to speak your mind. I’m very loyal to my team. I also make sure my team where the Eternal Taal uniform. Its our branding. People have tried to be negative about that. But I try and stay upbeat for myself and my team. Our uniforms make us stand out. 

 

You ran the 5K for the Inspirational Sikh Women in Dubai tell me more about that?

I was nominated by a few media friends for the ‘Inspirational Sikh Women’ award from the Sikh Channel. 20 Inspirational women were chosen for the award and we were given the opportunity to represent the Sikh Channel at the 5K Dubai run. This was of course a brilliant opportunity to get to know other inspirational Sikh women and take part in something I wouldn’t normally do. Initially I actually thought I would only be performing with my Dhol but listening to the other girls, they motivated me to actually take part in the event. With the help of Sikh channel and Dubai organisers Plan B, the experience was truly unforgettable. I made lifelong friends and performed internationally once again with my Dhol. 

 

You are the Young Ambassdor for World Bhangra Council, how was that for you?

I am UK’s first Female Dhol player who has been performing since 1993 inspired by my musical father Balbir Bhujhangy. My aim has always been to encourage other girls to take up a male dominating instrument breaking all barriers and stereotypes. With such an online presence and great profile the BBC world News wanted to interview me about my 25 year musical journey. The documentary released in Nov 2017 went viral with over a million hits. A non asian Music charity called ‘Music for All’ and a world renowned music organisation ‘World Bhangra Council’ saw the documentary and were both amazed by my passion, energy and journey thus asking me to be an ‘Ambassador’ for their organisation. Another huge step in my musical career building a good profile inspiring others and keeping my passion alive. 

 

You was also one of the 100 masters for the Black Country what an achievement!

Yes I was so shocked but so privileged to be recognised as well as my father. 

What is next for Parv?

Who knows you will have to wait and see! I want to work with Beyonce! (laughing) Her whole band is female and she is all about female empowerment. I am married will be probably start a family soon. Then I have my nephews and nieces that I love to bits. 

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I met Parv and I was struck by how positive this lady is! Not only that she laughs and is just so energetic. Her passion for music is incredible but she has many struggles to get to where she is. She has been in the industry many years and she is not the kind of person to give up. Her love for student and Eternal Taal is brilliant. But Women Empowerment is a massive part of her journey. No matter how much music is a male dominated industry she kept flying the flag for women! 

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