Simon Duggal is the latest recruit to join the team at BIMM Birmingham. The production specialist was born and raised in the cultural melting-pot of Handsworth, so we decided to pick his brains on why Birmingham is such a great place to live, study and make music!
You’re Birmingham born & bred – What do you love about the city?
“There’s a warmth and friendliness to Birmingham people. I love the diversity. There’s great arts and culture. It’s a city that’s constantly reinventing itself. I’ve got some wonderful friends in Birmingham. Many are world class musicians who choose to live here. There are great places to eat out, watch live music and it’s an incredibly green city. We have three major parks within a mile of where I live.”
What makes Birmingham such an interesting place to make music?
“There seems to be a creative renaissance going on in Birmingham. The city is undergoing massive changes which makes it an attractive place for people to visit and move to. Couple this with the fact that Birmingham has always been a hugely diverse city with a legacy of producing ground-breaking artists from Rock to Reggae to Bhangra. These factors make Birmingham an exciting and inspiring place to be a musician in 2017.”
Yourself and your brother were pioneers in mixing genres. How did this start?
“Our parents would play Indian music at home, we’d hear reggae playing out of our neighbour’s houses, our friends would be listening to funk, our sisters would be playing RnB and punk rock. I guess we naturally absorbed the sounds that were around us. We just loved every kind of music. With Apache Indian, we didn’t set out to fuse reggae and Indian sounds. We just did what we wanted to do, what came naturally, and used influences of the things we liked.”
Where are the best places to find new music?
“The Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath is a great venue. It’s where UB40 played their first ever gig. I’ve seen so many known acts there and some great up and coming bands too. There’s the Station in Kings Heath which has a great open mic night, plus the Tower of Song in Cotteridge. There’s also Jam Jah at The Dark Horse in Moseley and The Jam House in the Jewelry Quarter too. There are too many more to list.”
Where are the best places to eat out?
“There are pockets of amazing places in Birmingham to eat and the choice of food is more diverse than it’s ever been. My personal faves are Middle Eastern and Japanese. Ladypool Road is famous for Indian food and has some great Turkish restaurants too. Moseley and Kings Heath has great places for every kind of food. In one square mile you can find, Middle Eastern, Indian, Thai, Cuban, Tapas, Italian, English, Chinese, Jamaican and so much more.”
When someone visits Birmingham for the first time, where would you tell them to go for a true flavour of the city?
“I guess it depends on what you’re looking for. Birmingham has areas with very different personalities. For cool creative vibes try the Jewelry Quarter or Digbeth. For modern BoHo it’s got to be Moseley and Kings Heath.”
Are there any artists currently on the local music scene that you would recommend?
“There’s a lot of great talent in Birmingham. A few to watch out for: Indie rock band The Americas. For a bit of funky folk check out The Lost Notes. For Reggae/Ska there’s Kioko and Lady Sanity for Hip Hop. Hoopla Blue are doing some great experimental stuff. There’s so much more going on in Birmingham but that’s just a selection.”