Sikh pop artist Amrit Ghatore approaches his music career with steely focus and strict discipline, traits he learnt from his other passion in life: karate.
The West Londoner took up martial arts at the age of four, learning under the watchful eye of his father, a well-respected Goju karate sensei.
By 16 Ghatore was instructing others; but rising to such a position at an early age was both a blessing and a curse. Karate helped him develop strength, power and self-discipline, but left him feeling unable to express vulnerability.
“There is a massive dichotomy between karate and music, and I really struggled with that,” Ghatore says. “I’ve always loved music, but I felt that showing my soft side was a sign of weakness and that by doing so I was doing a disservice to my father.
“Karate taught me leadership and discipline, but it was a hard shell, and I didn’t know how to break out of that and express my musical side.”
Growing up Ghatore was heavily influenced by Western music especially Michael Jackson. He sang in a choir and taught himself the piano, guitar and drums. But at 18 was pulled in another direction.
“I felt a need to go back to my roots and study Indian classical music. When I started learning about it, it felt like meeting up with an old friend.”
Eventually Ghatore found the courage to release his own music – modern pop with a nod to his cultural and religious heritage.
“I thought my karate peers would be sniggering behind their hands, but they were supportive,” he says. “Ever since then I’ve become more secure as a person and more confident.”
Ghatore has since released several singles and enjoyed strong support from the BBC Asian network. His recent song It’s OK was a BBC Track of the Week. The accompanying video was inspired by an important chapter in Anglo-Sikh history. It pays tribute to the Sikh soldiers who fought for the Allies in the First World War. Known as the Lions of the Great War, they served in Europe, Turkey, East Africa and the Middle East. Showing great bravery and strength, they often engaged in hand to hand combat with traditional weapons.
As with all his videos, Ghatore directed it himself. He and a friend did the costumes and his karate students stood in as extras.
“People often tell me that making videos is a waste of time as it won’t generate an income,” he says. “I ignore them, I see it as an investment in my career.”
The ultimate multi-tasker, Ghatore funds his music career by working as an actor, stuntman, model and sometime Aston Martin broker – an opportunity that came about as a result of his significant Instagram following.
This professional juggling act requires large reserves of energy and explains why Ghatore often starts his day at 4am. He enjoys working across mediums and has no plans to row back on any of his commitments. “When I say I’m going to do something, I do it. I follow my instincts and follow my vision, no matter how much work it takes. My one piece of advice is this: ignore the naysayers.”
Follow Ghatore on Instagram