Interview: Wilbur Sargunaraj on Dappan Koothu

My dear unclejis, auntyjis, brothers and their sisters this is Munna Mobile reporting from Vancouver Canada. Now you didn’t think our budget permitted us to bring you stories across international borders did you? Well this one isn’t about how Walter Vetrivel officiated as a referee in the finals of the Curling event, or how hashtag kumaraswamy woke up at 5Am everyday to live tweet the winter Olympics on ESPN. This is more like a slap to those who accused us of interviewing only fictional characters and writing satirical pieces. We at Dappan Koothu managed to snag the man behind one of the most viral videos in recent times. Wilbur Sargunaraj truly defines the tone and mood of this blog and if we ever were to interview anyone, then it had to be this man! While we bring you news that you cannot use, tear movies to shards and stump divine beings, Wilbur brings a smile to all our faces by just being himself. With a rapidly growing cult following, Wilbur not only spreads the language of music but also tries to make a difference with some good work. To find out more about his drum-set, passion for cricket and cult status, read on.

Making the common extraordinary

MM: First of all Wilbur, Welcome to Dappan Koothu. We’ve been fans of your work ever since the days of the ‘blog song‘. Could you tell us what went behind conceptualizing the song and the highly addictive dance steps that go with it?

WS: Thank you Munna, You cannot separate dancing and music. They both walk hand in hand. Usually when you make an addictive dance move its more because you are feeling the beat of the music and the music is dictating your body movements. Its very simple. Just play the song and allow the song to make you move! Of course there are some choreographed moves but one thing I learnt from the amazing dancers and musicians in Cuba is to allow the music to dictate your movements.

MM: Cuba is it? Well, the song is so popular that last time a few blogger friends met up in Chennai, they sung it on the beach before dispersing. How does it feel to have created a blogger anthem that’s a raging success?

WS: It is very humbling and I am always excited to see people enjoying the music that I create. It was not meant to be just in my head or in my room….people need to hear it and it is for their enjoyment!

MM: There’s not much info about you other than the fact that you’re from Madurai and now in Canada. Could you tell us something bout your growing years, education and family?

WS: I am from Madurai and I live in both India and Canada as I have relatives in both places. My entire family is scattered across India and the Middle East. I spent my younger years in Darjeeling, Calcutta and Benares. Till my family moved down to Tamil Nadu where I went to school in Ootacamund and then finally in Madurai.

MM: Now that’s a lot of places. When did this association with music happen, and the subsequent move to Canada? Don’t tell us that you just found the drum-sticks lying around, start drumming and become an overnight sensation!

WS: I have always loves music even as a boy in Jeevana school in Madurai I would get all the boys to join me and beat the
in Dappankoothu
beat the desk in Dappankoothu (local tamil nadu style beats) style! No I did not find drumsticks lying around….I made drumsticks from trees and would play on whatever I could. I did practice and I have been able to take some tuition from some great drummers. This led me to receive an endorsement from a company called Vater who have made a signature stick (you can purchase this on my website) and with Pearl drums (Japanese company) and Evans drumheads. I am thankful for this opportunity and yes it comes with passion and very hard work.

MM: Oh we obviously know Dappan Koothu, afterall our blog is named after it! Sargunaraj Super call Solutions, isn’t quite really a call center, do you have a day job? How did that start and are you still associated with it or have you become a full-time musician?

WS: I would like to clear the misconception about Sargunaraj Supercall solutions. It is not a call center…It is a center that I started to receive questions from people. I take them and answer them on video or by podcast. I don’t “work” for center anymore although it functions in the background as people still ask me questions. I still enjoy doing this form time to time but yes music has become a full time venture.

MM: A lot of bloggers are calling you India’s answer to Ali G or rather Ali G is the Wilbur of the west. How does it feel for such a comparison that pole-vaults you to cult status?

WS: Sorry who is Ali G??? I am confident to be Wilbur Sargnaraj and if people like to compare me others no problem but I am so happy to be myself.

MM: A lot of your non-musical travel videos are like learnings shot on your trips. Is it something like the cultural learnings of a tamizhan that you wish to document?

WS: Cultural learnings of Wilbur Sargunaraj… yes….I love to expose people all around the world to different cultures and the richness of that particular people group. We may be different but we have more in common than we realize. I like to speak on behalf of all common people not just tamil people.

MM: You made an instructional video on preparing chicken-65, and there’s also a post on it. What are your other culinary exploits and do we get to see more bachelors cooking guides?

WS: I love making dhal….its healthy and so good for the body. I have debated on writing a cook book called “South Indian Delicacies”. Will have to wait and see!!!

MM: Love Marriage was at first a studio performance that went viral after the music video was shot recently. Did you ever imagine that it would be so big and get mentioned on WSJ, collegehumor, CNN, tonnes of blogs and even a tweet by Roger Ebert?

WS: No I had no idea it would be very gigantic….as I said before I love making music for the enjoyment of people and now people are enjoying it and I am so happy!

MM: So are you still looking for a bride, or did you pick one up on your recent India trip? We’d also love to hear about your efforts in Rajapalayam with Ponnagam.

WS: No time for bride at the moment. Still trying hard to make a living with the music. Maybe if I come to a place where I can provide with my music I will think about settling down! Yes my relatives run this centre in Tamil Nadu. It was voted by the people as the best destitute home in Virudunagar district. I have a very soft heart for humanitarian issues and dont like to see children hungry! I want to see them doing things children should be doing! It my goal to use my music to help these children.

MM: The views on your videos are steadily growing and internet fanclubs have been sprouting all over. You have over 1000 fans on facebook and close to 300 followers on twitter. There is even a website collecting funds to get you perform in LA. What do you have to say for this growing popularity?

WS: One day you can be up and the next day you can be down. It is important not to be overwhelmed with the physical aspects of success but to really connect with people! That’s what I want to do! One day people may like my music the next day they may hate it! Don’t mistaken me I am very thankful for these opportunities and the growing increase of fans and possibilities but in the end what is most important are the people around you. Your family and friends! For me popularity is a platform I want to use to make a difference! To see people dance, smile, laugh and enjoy themselves! But yes I am thankful to all my dearest fans and followers who have made me who I am today by the help of God! I am super excited at the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead!

MM: Moving to tamil cinema, who’s your pick of actors form the current lot? Have you considered doing a few tunes for movies?

WS: If the opportunity presented itself to write for movies I would consider it but I’m not sure if people may enjoy my style in Tamil Cinema! The actors who I think in my opinion do a great job of ACTING were always Asin and Ajith. I really don’t watch too many movies to be honest! I like watching real life documentaries.

MM: You are a big cricket fan, your songs and recent CSK rap stands testimonial to that. We should start a campaign to make you the online mascot along with Sivamani who is in the stands. Your thoughts on that and sivamani himself?

WS: Sivamani is a wonderful drummer. When you look at drummers who come from India and specifically Tamil Nadu, we have an edge with carnatic music! The rhythms are so complex and we have much to offer with these complexities. You have to be careful though not to lose the person with complex beats. I love drumming but my music goes beyond just drumming! I don’t like making complex rhythms that everyday people cannot grasp. They need to be able to dance and enjoy the beat! If you would like to have me as the mascot that would be great! Sure! Maybe I can perform at a CSK game in the future! Maybe you can wave banners for me at these games in Chennai!

MM: Where do you get the best jigarthanda in Canada or do you make it yourself?

WS: Only in Madurai my friends! Come and taste it!

PS: After this interview, Wilbur was contacted by the CSK PR team to put his rap video on the official site.

Additional Information:
If you would like to have him come and perform a concert please visit his website
To contact him via email for your thoughts and questions:
He is on facebook and you can follow him on as well