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Praneel's love for music

Thursday, November 30, 2017

HUMILITY is the way for DJ Praneel, who is also known as Ba ka Chora, (lad from Ba) as he treads on a path of struggles to strengthen his name in local music.

Praneel Prasad, who is 34 years old, did not always have things easy for him.

His musical journey began in 1997 when he was still in high school.

The motivation

His journey started at a time when live band orchestras were trending in Fiji.

Being in Form 3 (now Year 9), the young musician was motivated by his teachers and classmates.

He said he would always volunteer to sing in class whenever asked.

Once he gained some confidence he was told that there was a band in Ba.

He went for practice sessions with the band and was surprised that he had not made a single mistake in the first practice.

"I started my first music career in a band. I was living in an interior place when I heard some people were running a band in Ba and I went there for my first practice," he said.

However, this soon ended as the then young singer realised the struggles of being a musician.

Prasad said he was kicked out of the band just as he was rising, claiming that his band mates were not willing to help him in any way.

Residing in Wailailai, Ba, the youngster would walk to the Ba Mission Hospital for practice and gigs which would often end in the early hours of the morning.

He said no one would want to drop him home and he had to walk back at times like 2am.

"I was a music lover. No one is my guru. I used to go to temple and pray and from there I was gaining," he said.

Prasad was not from a well-off family either.

He said he managed to pass his Fiji Seventh Form Examination (Fiji Year 13 Certificate Examination), however fell short of few marks to enrol into a degree program at a university.

He took bridging courses at the university which was expected to take him around two years to complete.

"My father was a really poor guy. I completed my Form 7 (Year 13) in 2001, and I passed my exam but fell short of marks and thus had to take bridging course," he said.

"When my father died no one was willing to help me, uh din se sapna sab tutge (all my dreams shattered that day)."

A fresh start

After the death of his father, Prasad had to look after his mother and shifted his focus to music.

Prasad said he resumed his career by earning only $20 per show.

He said he only thought about his mother and the responsibility that he had on his shoulders to look after her.

His struggle period continued until 2000 when he recorded his first album with Procera.

Prasad was intimidated and not prepared when he recorded his first album.

He said he did not know how songs were recorded.

He said he mostly sang Bollywood songs which he performed at weddings and after his first album he took a year hiatus to prepare well for volume 2.

"First of all I paid Procera. The recording that time was $800. People did not know me. I was uncertain on the sale of my albums and whether or not they will like my voice. I was really afraid at that time," he said.

Volume 2 however was a big hit with some songs getting more prominence, he said.

Then and now

Comparing his beginning to now, Prasad said he had several shows across Australia and New Zealand which had been successful.

"I just want to say that I have done about two shows in Auckland, and two shows in Sydney and Brisbane, and when I uploaded my song on Facebook my fan base increased," he said.

His first show was in November last year and he said it was a full house, with the same being at his other concerts in Brisbane and Sydney.

"I don't know much about my voice but my fans know and they hire me. Wherever I go they say 'DJ Praneel'. I am so happy little kids of other races know me," he said.

Despite having an increased fan base, and having concerts which were a hit, Prasad's struggles did not end there.

"Before I used to hire the sound system and I used to pay $100 per night at weddings and sometimes people demand $200-$300. I am saving $100 every week," he said.

"In 2017, an angel came in my life and she saw I was struggling. She now resides in New Zealand. She provided me with a very good sound system and she really helped me a lot in my music career."

Prasad said he could not thank her enough for recognising his struggle and furnishing him with equipment that cost about $10,000.

The future

However, Prasad's struggles continue as he continues to make his name in Fiji's music arena.

"I just want to be something in music, I am struggling but I want to be like some of the golden memories of Fiji. I don't want to be the golden voice but I want to be a Ba ka chora."

He is expected to release his ninth album by February next year.

Prasad says the album will be like his previous few releases, which will be reggae.

He has been singing reggae since 2010.

"I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to The Fiji Times, just because of The Fiji Times there is a demand for local artistes in Fiji," he said.

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