“Sold” is a movie about Human Trafficking, directed by Academy Award Winner Jeffrey D. Brown, Producer Jane Charles, and Executive Producer Emma Thompson. Starring Gillian Anderson, David Arquette, & Sushmita Mukherjee, “Sold” won the audience award at the London Indian Film Festival.
Sammy Chand’s recent work as Music Supervisor of the film “Sold” has engaged his passion in the fight against Human Trafficking. He also worked alongside John McDowell on the film’s score. Sammy’s Los Angeles based label Rukus Avenue, the first of its kind in North America, has released the soundtrack to “Sold” which is now available worldwide.
The film “Sold” has been heralded worldwide by organizations like the United Nations for bringing awareness about the horrors of Human Trafficking. The soundtrack features music from artists Sammy Chand, John McDowell, Salim & Sulaiman, Michael Franti, Cappadonna, Tajdar Junaid, Dj Cheb i Sabbah, David Starfire, Sunidhi Chauhan, and Midival Punditz.
Sammy Chand’s brand of music combines a distinct mix of elements from around the world. His music has been featured in shows like The Oprah Winfrey Show, So You Think You Can Dance, No Reservations, America’s Most Wanted, and over 50 other film and television programs around the world. His groundbreaking Indian hip hop sound has been noted by the Smithsonian Museum, The NY Times, The Hindustan Times, MTV, BBC, WNYC, and KCRW, including the subject of several books about the emergence of his pioneering accomplishments in the genre.
Sammy’s collaborations include work with the Wu Tang Clan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Satinder Sartaaj, Michael Franti, Tisha Campbell Martin, Karmacy, Ozomatli, Chali 2na, Divine, Asha Puthli, Kanwar Gill, Rasika Mathur and many other talented artists. Sammy was born in London, and is a past recipient of the Los Angeles Citizen of the Year Award for his work with the Red Cross.
Ink sat down for an exclusive one-on-one with Sammy.
I began in the early mid 90s producing beats for different artists in the Los Angeles area and from that my repertoire grew. I soon found that there was a void in the music industry in the form of our South Asian culture lacking representation and a platform from which it could begin to project itself. I started the first South Asian record label in North America in 1996 called Rukus Avenue, I think it helped form the identity of this burgeoning 2nd generation that was making an impact in America.
2. What could great-sounding recording do for an artist’s career?
People often mistake quality of music for quality of recording. Theres a clear distinction. I think artists making great music will always transcend any technical studio setup. With that being said, great recordings will help thrust your career and build a demand for the live show. Live music will help you connect with your audience in the most intimate manner.
3. Do artists benefit from networking?
Yes. One of the greatest perks of being in the music industry is the access to people and the great connections you make. I’ve had the fine fortune of meeting and collaborating with great people around the world because of many places music has taken me. Networking becomes crucial political capital that you will expend at various points in your career. Music has always been about people, networking is another aspect of that.
4. What do you feel are the other elements an artist needs to have as part of their product to go out there and pitch it?
Alongside a sound plan that will help you cut through the noise of artists out there, you need great music to start. Now, the business has changed to force artists to do more than just showing up with their instrument to a show. You have to have an entrepreneur’s spirit and demonstrate your ability to help evolve your business beyond the musical notes. You need a story, a complete package of intellectual property, sound business sense, and a work ethic to push it all.
5. How many of the artists you work with are able to match live what they’ve done in the studio? Is this the norm?
Its very important to develop your live show and it must extend beyond your recordings. Most artists are able to replicate their talents on stage. Navigating through the moving parts that make up a live show takes talent and poise, and overcoming these aspects normally allow the audience to see the artist’s true talent. Also, it is up to the artist to curate their live performance to highlight their specific talents.
6. How do you value studio time?
Studio time is the backbone of your work. My studio is in my house and I spend many hours in there everyday to keep working on my craft. It usually allows for me to experiment and have the environment to hear my work and critique and correct in a comfortable environment. As a producer and composer my studio time is crucial to me.
7. In your opinion, what classifies as a good mix and a good master?
Music that sounds good and balanced in every speaker situation usually classifies a good mix and master for me. Something that maintains the dynamic of the music and sounds clear. The less you do to it – the better!
8. What other producers, songwriters and/or artists do you see as your primary inspirations?
So many great producers and music makers out there that I look up to. I often describe my music by telling people that if Dr Dre and AR Rahman were locked in a room for a day, they’d make music like mine. I’m equal parts Hip Hop and equal parts world influences. I use a lot of live instruments in my recordings.
9. Do you have a favorite musical project that you’ve worked on?
Although I’m known for my work with the Wu Tang Clan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Ozomatli, Satinder Sartaaj, Michael Franti, and more, my favorite project is this SOLD soundtrack that my record label Rukus Avenue just released. The film is important social work in addition to the actual music. The fight against Human Trafficking is much larger than the music we made, but the cause has resonated with so many people. With organizations like the United Nations and United Way being involved, I would say that this SOLD soundtrack is my favorite right now.
10.Can you please tell us a bit about the project Sold and your involvement with it?
I was the Music Composer and Music Supervisor on the film. My record label Rukus Avenue released the soundtrack. The film Sold is about the story of a young girl that gets coaxed into leaving Nepal and is eventually enslaved as a sex worker in Kolkata. The film articulates the condition that many people that get trafficked go through. This gives us a first hand view into how the 3rd biggest crime on the world exists.
11.What do you like to do for fun outside of working on music?
I have a very robust life outside of music too. I’m married with two children and enjoy my family life. Much of my free time is dedicated to my children and to my family. I also own several businesses in the Los Angeles area and maintain an avid love for social causes that spark my passions. Currently I’m working on my next music album called NO WORDS and releasing the Rukus Avenue APP and the Sammy Chand APP.