An Exclusive Interview with Atif Aslam
Atif candidly speaks to Smash! about himself, his music and JAL!
Birthday: 12th March 1983
Star Sign: Pisces
Life Motto: To make people happy
Favourite Food: Chinese Food
Favourite Dishes: Bhel Puri, Pani Puri
Favourite Movies: Castaway, Legends of the fall, Fight Club, Parinda, Jal Pari, Yugpurush
Favourite Songs:"My Confession" by Richard Marx, "Where were you" by Pink Floyd, "Tere bin nahin lagta dil mere" by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Favourite Singer Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Influences on his music: All types of music but mostly Eastern Classical Music
School you attended: Divisional Public School
Best Subject: Maths
Worst Subject: Social Studies, Pak Studies
University: Punjab College of B.A.
Other interests, pastimes: Sketching cartoons, meeting prople
Favourite television programs: Popeye, Sur
1.Let's start with your musical background.
Well, I don't have any professional training in singing. It's a gift from God that I discovered only 3 years ago.
2.So, how did you become interested in music?
I was always a huge music fan and I listened to all types of music as a
teenager. Then one day when my parents were out, I sang a Kishore Kumar
song 'Zindagi ki safar' out load in the empty house and I loved the
sound of that song. Since then I felt that I could sing. That was 3 and
a half years back.
3.How did your music career begin?
my music career began with me singing the songs I loved. In university,
I played the guitar and sang in public functions and I always received
incredible feedback from the audience and fellow musicians. They urged
me to start as a singer. A few weeks later I was at a friend's birthday
party and that's when I met Goher. We started talking about music and
about the guitar and that's how "Jal" was formed.
4.Was there any friction between you and your parents when it came to music?
there was. My parents wanted me to continue with my studies, they
wanted me to study further. But music was the only thing on my mind. In
fact, I made my first real song without my parents knowing about it.
5.Where was your first concert?
I did a lot of free concerts. As I said before I performed a lot of
public events and college functions. But my first real concert was at
McDonalds. I was paid 500 rupees for that performance.
6.Tell us about how the process of creating your album "Jalpari" began?
got the number for Mekaal Hassan's studio from Faakhir's guitarist. I
went to his studio and that was where I recorded my first song. Another
person I met doing gigs was Salman Albert who played the drums on "Aadat".
7.How do you come up with ideas?
They just pop into my head, it's very hard to sit down and think of an idea. It comes to me naturally.
8.Do you create the music for your songs first or the lyrics?
depends on how I get the idea. Often it takes me an hour to pen down
the lyrics to a tune that I thought of at the spur of the moment.
Sometimes I just get the line of the song in my head while I'm doing
nothing. It's an instinctive process.
9.How did you create the song Aadat?
the first line of the song "Ab to Aadat se hai mujh ko" just popped
into my head when I as singing the Kishore Kumar song at home. I then
worked on the song in the studio for a year to add lyrics and to polish
10.How did you create the song Bheeghi Yaadein?
song is about friendship. And the idea of the song came at a huge
gathering of friends when we were about to go our separate ways. We
were discussing old times and that's when the idea for Bheeghi
Yaadein came to me.
11.What is the most difficult part of creating a song?
arrangement of the song is very difficult. Usually music and lyrics
come instinctively to artists. But the components of the song like the
beats and the tempo require a lot of effort. The kind of groove to add
to a song to make it catchy, the speed of the beats and the tempo, the
combination of instruments needs a lot of hard work. But the most
important thing to manage after all the combination and planning is to
ensure that the song had an impact on the listener.
12.Which songs are you the most proud of on the album?
I love all the songs on the album. But I am very happy with the rhythms
of Ehsaas and Gul Sun Ja. I think the most heartfelt song on the
album was Yaqeen and the song I am most proud of from a creative
point of view is Bheeghi Yaadein.
13.Which was the most difficult song to create on the album?
Well, every song required a lot of effort, but the music for the song zindagi took a very long time.
14.What difficulties did you face in establishing yourself as an artist?
had complete creative feeling when I was making the album, and I am
very grateful for that. That's why I feel as though a piece of my soul
is in the album. Thankfully, everything went smoothly during the
creation of the album. But while I was establishing myself I met a lot
of leg pullers and so called organizers who made empty promises.
15.Were you ever betrayed?
exactly betrayed but misled. But actually I feel that the struggle and
the opposition help you grow as an artist. In fact the hurt I felt at
being misled by these leg pullers gave me inspiration for many of my
16.Is that why the album has such a melancholic tone to it?
guess so. The important thing is to never be discouraged and to keep on
persevering and making sure that your songs are heartfelt. And in that
sense meeting people, experiencing new things good or bad help you
because your music becomes more personal and meaningful.
17.Tell us about your childhood, how did you do at school?
in my early years I was a very good student. In fact I received a
double promotion. But as I got older and made new friends my interests
started to change towards music and cricket. I bunked a lot of classes
later on in school. I was selected to play for the Pakistan Under 19
cricket team. I used to lie to my parents about having to go to a
friend's house when I was actually going to the nets to practice. But
the cricket career didn't work out, as my parents didn't allow me to go
to the training camp in Lahore. Otherwise I might have been a right arm
fast bowler for Pakistan.
18.Is that a regret?
No not at all. Music is very important for me. I am involved in my music, it's a career for me.
19.Would you continue making music of you weren't successful?
Yes I would. Music satisfies me and satisfaction is more important than money.
20.How do you feel about performing live?
I love it. The reaction you get from a crowd is wonderful. Performing live is definitely better than singing in a studio.
21.Many artists say that the equipment in Pakistan isn't suitable for performing live. Is that true?
I don't agree with that. The only problem is that the event organizers
prefer solo artists in live performances, as bands have to be paid more
since they have more performers.
22.How is the life of a music star?
live in two worlds. You live as yourself and your image in the media.
It's a different world on television. You are a different person from
yourself on the screen. But I must admit it is very hard work, but at
the same time there is nothing better doing than what you love doing.
23.Do you like making videos?
No I don't like appearing in videos. But it must be done you need to get exposure on television if you want to be successful.
24.What do you think of the Aadat video?
thought it was alright. If I made the video I would have had an Angel
in it but since we live in a conservative society we couldn't follow
that idea through. I think if I had a greater say in the creative
process it could have been a better video but still I think the
directors did a very good job and the reaction to the video was great.
25.What are your future plans?
Well, my next album will be out in two years time.
26.What is your ultimate ambition?
I would like to be an international superstar like the late Ustad
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. His pitch was superb and the emotion he conveyed
through his voice was awesome.
27.Do you plan to move into acting?
Maybe, only if I feel I have the potential.
28.What do you think about Jal?
I can only pray for Jal.
29.Have you tried getting back together?
Yes I have tried but it never seems to work out.
30.What was the reason for the split?
it was mostly financial reasons. There were differences in the pay and
they objected to that. But that wasn't the biggest problem. There was a
TV show that I wasn't informed about. The organizers were told that
there had been a death in my family and that I couldn't perform. It was
a lie of course and I didn't feel I could continue working without the
trust of my band members.
31.What would be your advice to up and coming artists?
to come out with something new, make your music unique so that people
recognize you. Keep interacting with people, talk to everyone about
music and try new things. There will be problems on the way up but that
is the part of the learning process. Persevere and you will be
successful. The Pakistani music scene has a lot of potential and with
the new television channels coming up things have never been better