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Verve People
January 10, 2017

How Jasleen Powar Is Shaking Up The Music Industry

Text by Simone Louis. Photograph by Dana Zamzul

Graceful and gutsy, the Indo-Canadian entertainer knows what she wants out of life and doesn’t shy away from grabbing it with both hands

Her journey began as a shy child who took a dance class in the third grade and faced her fear of being in the spotlight. Thereon, anyone who met Jasleen Powar knew that she wanted to entertain. Taking her knack for writing seriously during her senior years in high school, she ventured into spoken word poetry and studied theatre in university, where she discovered a love for rap. The Indo-Canadian entertainer called herself Horsepowar while uploading original tracks on Soundcloud and, as she puts it, “it was all rock ‘n’ roll from there”. Her defiant rhymes and powerhouse persona make for a refreshing first impression, and her music videos always get people talking. Given her name and the gusto with which she uses it, it’s no wonder that her work is every bit empowering.

Ethnic dichotomy
“It’s quite evident that my heritage has influenced my work. I love spectacles and dramatics…I’m a theatre kid after all. It shows in my performances and recordings. When it comes to sampling, I love drawing from my favourite Bollywood tracks. There’s so much to choose from! My family keeps up with Indian traditions, customs and ideals even though we’re in Canada. I have the complex of the hybrid child battling the duality of Western and Eastern cultures. It’s interesting; I’m blessed to have this connection.”

In a nutshell
“I’d describe my sound as: if Madhuri Dixit started rapping, with a splash of Kanye West who’s got the munchies.”

Self-censorship
“I have a lot of nieces and nephews; I was a bua when I was seven years old. I always think about them and question whether they would be proud of my work. Initially, I created music that was obscene, vulgar and extremely sexual. But I realised I didn’t want them to hear that and think I was being serious. At that moment, I checked my art and myself. Growing up, I looked up to my older sister. She helped mould me into the strong, confident woman I am today. I want my art to be there for those who need something to spark inspiration, self-confidence and belief. Horsepowar is everyone’s little brother and everyone’s older sister.”

Zealous intentions
“I want to go down in history and bring light to the South Asian woman. If I want to start a revolution, I have to be prepared to be the rebel. I just remind myself to trust myself, and there is no fear that I cannot conquer. Also on my bucket list are: star in a Bollywood flick, jam out with Maynard James Keenan and have an HBO comedy special. And if I could choose to play anywhere in the world, it would be on top of a giant hover board stage that was flying above the Indian Ocean.”

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