Biog & Discography
Johnny Kalsi was born and raised in the United Kingdom. As a youth, he became increasingly interested in music, although his parents had other aspirations for him. Johnny first learnt the art of the Tabla at his local Gurdwara from the Late Prof. Gurmeet Singh Virdee fand slowly became intrigued by the Dhol. Being in a time where there where not any Dhol Groups Johnny Kalsi took to teaching himself the complex beats of the Dhol and essentially redesigning the traditional beats of the Dhol to his own specifications. Taking the North Indian Tabla Gharana (House) Style of playing and Dialect, Johnny adapted the teaching technique to work on the Dhol Drum. Living in the UK his exposure to a variety of genres embraced both traditional Indian music as well as Western influences. His style became a blend of rhythms utilising a mixture of both Eastern and Western instruments.
In 1988, Johnny Kalsi joined the pioneers of Bhangra Alaap and Mela Group. After performing at a number of weddings and Melas Johnny Kalsi fulfilled his aspirations to try out something different. From this he then went on to found The Dhol Foundation, to which he began teaching in small halls and living rooms! As The Dhol Foundation grew Johnny began to open classes all over the UK and eventually the classes went global and spread over to Canada. Parallel to this Johnny Kalsi became well established in the Western music industry and landed a publishing deal with Peter Gabriel's Real World Records. With this Johnny Kalsi took Bhangra to the next level and emerged the traditional sounds of the Dhol with influences all over the world. While working along side Mr Gabriel himself Johnny Kalsi became the Ambassador for the WOMAD festival as well as becoming 'Friends with Eden' and making The Dhol Foundation a limited company.
The amount of gigs The Dhol Foundation have done are uncountable after 30 odd years. The experience of various performances are undeniable to the World Music industry. The amount of friends and collaborations they have performed with have made memorable occasions many times over for millions of people. Touching the lives and hearts of fans & people that have witnessed a Dhol Foundation performance to it's fullest potential, have gone away wanting to take the band home.
Full production & their own albums produced by Johnny Kalsi himself introduces collaborations of wonderful artists. Musicians, Singers and collaborative producers that bring a small piece of their own magic to spread on a TDF album. Traveling with the band around the globe has given the opportunity for TDF to tour the music and expose it to millions of others. From festival goers to one off gigs, the response has been incredible and credible to the band.
Johnny has also played with a whole range of music groups, from the golden age of Bhangra with the pioneers Alaap & Channi Singh OBE, to more collective groups such as Trans-Global Underground, The Imagined Village and The Afro Celts Sound System.In 1995, Kalsi joined an emerging World Music organization founded by Peter Gabriel, based at Real World Studios in Box Wiltshire, England. That connection served as a springboard for his career and exposed his talent to a global audience. Johnny Kalsi released his debut album in 2001 ‘Big Drum Small World' . The album was recorded all around the world and his influences were drawn from the bands he had played with. Big Drum Small World was a storm for the global music scene. Johnny gained an immense amount of experience in the studios and his vision and pallet gave him the ability to create and write great music.
Established in 1990
Johnny Kalsi & The Dhol Foundation began as a weekly workshop teaching the art of playing the North Indian Dhol Drum to students.
350 Student at it's peak with 8 classes in UK and 2 in Canada.
In 1997 Johnny Kalsi produced a debut album “Big Drum Small World” that was released in 2001. One track made the Hollywood Scorsase’s film, Gangs of New York.
3 Years later they released another album “Drum-Believable”.
Along the career, they have produced for many Bhangra artist and done session work for Peter Gabriel and even joined him on tour.
“Drums & Roses” in 2007 and the more recent “Drum-Struck” in 2011 has proved to be a huge crowd pleaser.
End of 2011 TDF Opened the Royal Variety alongside Stomp & the Japanese Drumming outfit Kodo.
In 2012 David Arnold asked Johnny Kalsi & The Dhol Foundation to perform for the Olympic Closing Ceremony in a stand alone performance. Mid Year they were on Channel 4 for Stand up to Cancer with Alan Carr & Davina McCall & helped raise over £8M.
In July 2013 Johnny Kalsi & The Dhol Foundation will be opening the Queen’s Coronation Celebration at Buckingham Palace for 3 nights.
Movies & TV Music:Gangs of New York
The Incredible Hulk
Tomorrow Never Dies Rabbit Proof Fence
Last Temptation of Christ
CSI Series 3
Discovery - Jesus in the Himalayas
Discovery - Indian Air Force Pilots
N.Geographic - Extreme Water Sports
Collaborations:Afro Celt Sound System
The Imagined Village
Mairead Nesbitt (Lord of the Dance)