Latest Interview: Ali Hamza of Noori revisits LUMS

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Ali Hamza takes a trip down memory lane by revisiting his alma mater LUMS

Instep Today speaks to Ali Hamza, the first President of the Music Society of the Lahore University of Management Sciences, at its 10th anniversary concert and discovers another side of one half of Noori

Hani Taha Salim, Lahore

While LUMS is more widely known for its business graduates and MBAs, the university has become known in recent years for the musical stars it has produced. With bands like Laal and Noori having some of their roots grounded in the institution, LUMS’ musical edge has come forth. This year the Music Society at LUMS is celebrating its tenth anniversary and has called the boys back home for a grand reunion. At a concert featuring a newly reunited EP, Noori, Aunty Disco Project and Laal, Instep Today met up with one of the Society’s most renowned names – Ali Hamza of Noori – to talk about his own musical experiences and his thoughts on the progress and success of the Society in promoting music at the university.

Instep Today: What led you to create the Music Society? How did it come into being?

Ali Hamza: I didn’t create it. It’s a myth. I think that’s why when I saw it in the newspapers I was a bit taken aback. I was just asked to be the President of the Society; i.e. the first President of the society. The Music Society was founded by a batch mate of mine, Saad Ansari. Actually there was this other fellow, Samir Anis, in the batch of 1999, who was two years senior to us, who loved playing the drums so he used to push a lot of guys to do music here at LUMS. And eventually he pushed them enough to create a music society. Actually our seniors were trying to create something like this and it kind of solidified by our batch.

Instep Today: Your fondest musical memories at LUMS?

AH: (Full of mischievous glee) Making ‘Behenc**d! I made it right here at what’s no longer the football field! I made a lot of songs sitting by the football field. The songs that are closest to me such as ‘Behenc**d’, I made them here.

Instep Today: There was a rumour afloat at that time that disciplinary action was taken by the LUMS faculty against you for this song. Was that true?

AH: Actually I didn’t get disciplinary action taken against me. Basically after I had graduated, I was working as a Research Assistant to a professor at LUMS so right then I performed this song at the farewell held for the batch of 2000. We had this huge phada… basically I would always argue with the Music Society that we should play original songs instead of just playing covers. So in my fury, I dedicated this song to all of LUMS. So Jam, Jamshed Shahab (a professor at LUMS) sent out a huge mass email to the students after that. I wasn’t a student so they couldn’t kick me out or take any serious academic punishment against me at that time and there were enough faculty members to even kick me out of the job. Tu jo bhi hai, I just did it and walked out of the hall.

Instep Today: What was your first musical performance in LUMS?

AH: (Anarchically joyfully yet again) ‘Behenc**d’ at the Saeed Saigol Auditorium in 1998. I performed at the ‘SO’ an exclusive LUMS event where we as students were given one day to do whatever the hell we want: say what we want, make fun of the faculty, cuss around, say all bad things we want to say about LUMS. So we were free to do anything so I did it.

Instep Today: How did the Music Society help you in your career, if it has in any way?

AH: I would say… umm… I really don’t know. I have been doing music since I was 14 years old. So the Music Society wasn’t the beginning of my career. It was actually because of my being part of Noori – the silent partner in Noori till 2002. So because of that they wanted me to be the President. Because they saw that and realized that I am the only guy (then) who had some kind of professional connection to the music industry. They actually made me record a song at the time and I realized that if you’re slightly educated you make better music. If you’re slightly intelligent here (points to his skull), if you’ve read, if you’re influenced by different kinds of knowledge you tend to make interesting intelligent music. And I guess, whenever I do come to LUMS and see students involved in music here, I feel that they are so much more better of that some musicians that I know.

Instep Today: How does it feel to be back at LUMS at the 10th anniversary and seeing the transition and growth of the society from where it was back in your days?

AH: It has grown with the university. These things (pointing to LUMS own recording studio and the ‘Wall of Fame’ with pictures of LUMS stars like Hamza on it) were never there at our time. We had this small dubba sa kamra. Initially we didn’t even have a room, we used to jam in the hostel rooms. It was in the third year of the society’s conception that we got a room. The first gig to be held in the central courtyard was ‘The It’ in 1998 right after we had another show called ‘The Gig’.

Instep Today: What would be your advice to aspiring musicians at LUMS?

AH: Yaar, do this seriously! Start thinking of pursuing music as a serious profession. If you guys don’t do it then the music industry in this country will go to the balls. It will get destroyed.

Instep Today: What is the state of the music industry right now as you see it?

AH: It’s getting better. It’s getting much much better now.

Instep Today: Anyone you admire from the music industry now, from your own generation?

AH: I’m not listening to any music right now. I don’t really listen to a lot of music. I just listen to Eastern classical and folk music. I’m not a big fan of western music even though I’ve played it.

Instep Today: What do you think of the recording studio at LUMS? It’s the only university in the country to have a studio of its own.

Ali Hamza: It’s like a dream! A wet dream! Just look it at man! Zong everywhere! Bara paisa aya hai yaar! Baray baap ka paisa! It’s brilliant! It’ll all happen slowly, but it will. The university has churned out three artistes till now; it will generate more in the future. But everything has its own process and it will happen slowly. We want things to change and have a different taste. But some things just happen naturally.

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