When did you start in the field of music? How did it happen?
Well I’ve always been playing music since I was a kid.. I was more fascinated with music then I was with sports etc like other boys. I was about 8 and begged my mom to buy me a guitar..and I haven’t put it down since. I went to high school and then college, graduating with a degree in business but never stopped playing in bands and solo. After a couple years of working a corporate job I decided to quit and pursue music full time. Not a very glamorous story but that’s how it went down.
What instruments do you play?
Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, some Drums, and I’m addicted to music production/engineering. I have built my own recording studio so I have the luxury of playing and experimenting all the time.
What was the first tune you played?
Hard to pinpoint exactly but I remember learning the riff for “Goray Rang Ka Zamana” by the Vital Signs and Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” and thinking holy shit, THAT sounds cool.
Is your family musical?
Not really. They enjoy good music. My cousin Asad is a fantastic musician though, and growing up I learned a bit from him.
If someone had never heard your music before, how would you describe it to them?
African Disco mixed with Norwegian Heavy Metal, a touch of Spanish Jazz meets Justin Bieber Synth-Pop, thrown in a blender with Bhangra and Irish flute music. Just kidding man, it’s just rock and roll.
What inspires you as a musician?
Melodies, happiness, tragedy, my past and future.
What would you say is your greatest strength as an artist?
I think I’ve developed a good understanding of groove, feel, melody and timing. I can usually sense when something is just sounding natural and right as opposed to forced and lame. Not only do I sing and play my own music, I have honed my skills as a producer and sound engineer so I can put things in perspective of the “bigger picture” when it comes to creating art.
How would you define good music?
Food for the soul. The kind you want to eat again and again. It triggers some feeling inside of you that is hard to describe but very desirable.
Which musicians do you feel helped define your sound?
Aside from the above mentioned artists.. I really dig the Black Keys, Bruno Mars, Led Zeppelin, Bon Jovi, Kings of Leon, Foo Fighters, Adele.. the list goes on. As for local.. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan of course. Aamir Zaki is a beast guitar player. From the newer lot I would say SYMT is kicking ass.. QB is great, so is Zoe Viccaji, Bilal Khan has a few catchy tunes. Adil Omar is also very talented and creative. Also, the band AAG is just ridiculously good.
Three words to describe yourself?
Couldn’t. Do. That.
Three people you would like to meet and why?
1) My Nani who I never met. 2) Michael Jackson. 3) Steve Jobs
But it could never happen.. they’re all in a better place.
What are your fondest musical memories?
The day I got a call from Gumby telling me I’ve been selected to appear in Ufone Uth Records was a trip. Also shooting my debut video “Jaag” in the scorching heat of Balochistan. And performing a concert in Karachi once to a crowd of about 14 people.. and myself and my band just looked at each other and said f*ck it, let’s perform like there’s thousands of people in the audience! And we did. #WINNING!!
What are you working on these days?
My new video for the song “Kehnay Do Na” comes out in a few days. It was directed by Fayyaz Ahmed, the song was produced by Shahi Hasan (of Vital Signs), and stars myself and Meera Ansari. I think people will enjoy it. I also just produced a song for a major artist in our industry.. which sounds huge. I’m going to be releasing my album in a few weeks.. in fact I’ve even started working on material for my next album! I also performed in a top secret music show (that I can’t name yet) that should be going on air very shortly.. I redid one of my songs in a new genre and am pleased with the outcome. Was a platform shared by the biggest acts of the music scene so that was very humbling. I was just nominated for Best New Artist for the 2013 Hum TV Awards. If you say it real fast it sounds like “MTV Awards” hahahaha.! And there’s a bunch of concerts lined up (In the US and in Pakistan).
What advice would you like to give others trying to enter the music industry?
I would say be sure, and then be really sure. The live concert scene is all screwed up due to the security situation and because of this idiotic ban on Youtube, the “music industry” is terminally ill. If you can get past that and you still want to create music professionally, then have it and give it 101%. It is not easy to break through, but good music always has a way to making its way into people’s hearts.
What was the concept behind Bewafa?
The same concept of a million other pop songs since the beginning of time. Somebody broke someone’s heart and they’re singing about it. Everyone’s been through it man. I wish there was a more philosophical or poetic touch to it. Sorry!
Most of your fans were exposed to you through UTH Records and your track “Bewafa”, how was the experience of working with Gumby and the whole UTH Records team?
Absolutely fantastic. Gumby is the best drummer in Pakistan and probably even Asia. Working with him, and the likes of Zeeshan Parwez (who is the premiere director of the country with credits such as Coke Studio to his name) was professional and exciting. Natasha Ejaz is a wonderful singer/artist and Russell D’Souza is one of the unsung heroes of the live music circuit who has been playing bass guitar with perfection for a couple decades now. While I’ve been in studios for a long time.. being on a reality show and having other minds dissect my song and re-build it into a new flavor was a learning experience. They took a simple pop/rock song of mine and turned into a retro funky/disco number almost.
You recently did a cover of Dil Dil Pakistan by Vital Signs and it was one of my personal favorite covers of last year. What inspired you to make it?
I’ve always been a HUGE Vital Signs fan. I’ve been playing their songs live since I was a teenager. Dil Dil Pakistan was the song that really gave birth to the modern era of Pop Music in Pakistan.. and since it’s 25th anniversary was coming up I felt like covering it as a tribute. I had no idea it would go so massive!! It wasn’t the first Vital Signs cover I’ve released (or the last hahah).
But the amount of appreciation I got was kind of crazy. The most touching thing for me was that all 3 founding members of the band (Junaid Jamshed, Rohail Hyatt & Shahi Hasan) all told me that it was their favorite re-make of the song to date. Getting that kind of feedback from my idols was just unreal.
You have a very distinctive sound that isn’t heard very often out of Pakistan, Do you think this stems from growing up in the United States? Or can you attribute it to something else?
I dunno man. I just do what the voices in my head tell me to do. It gets even more interesting when I forget to take my meds. HA HA HA just kidding now. Yeah, I think it’s obvious that my musical sound is a direct result of growing up in the US and listening to British/American bands my whole life. But I take care to make sure the lyrics in Urdu have meaning and aren’t just filler.
I can confirm that I can absolutely not answer that question… 😉
Sorry, I just don’t want to get sued. Make what you will of that!
Any message you would like to give to Pakium readers and your fans?
Kudos to PakiUm for tirelessly promoting Pakistani Music and our schizophrenic industry. You guys are doing a great job and I give you guys props! Keep up the good work.
As for my fans..thank you so much for all the support and appreciating my music. I know its such a cliché but if you people didn’t enjoy my art I would be nowhere. Every single email/message/comment/tweet that people send me I read and try respond to because that is what keeps me going. There’s no big money in this, believe me.. so I’m not making music for that. It’s for my own soul and for you guys. You guys are all rockstars and I am your biggest fan. Keep rocking.