What inspired you to enter the world of music and make it your own?
When I had tried approaching a few career paths and even having started on one (other than music), I realized that it all wasn’t working for me. This was a few years ago. So, I decided to get back to what I loved doing the most: Music! Though I’m a poetess and a visual artist recognized at a few national and international platforms. It was like a moment of awakening for me when I realized that music is what I can do most consistently with passion, having stayed with me since my childhood days, singing and playing the piano and writing.
Every musician has their own unique attribute, what sets you apart?
My unique attribute I’d say, is that I have a fond interest in ancient traditions & indigenous sounds, while also loving to work with experimental Sound Design and such textures. Currently, I’m trying to bring both together in some live and recorded projects.
What huddles have you faced as a female Pakistani musician?
Hurdles as a female Pakistani musician, entail:
1. Boundary-setting: Well, boundary-setting is a hurdle really, but more like a necessity if one wants to work with dignity and merit. I am not the sort who would start socializing with my male colleagues, in hopes of getting somewhere ahead in my career. And maybe because of that I wasn’t given as much work in some circles, as I believe that my music deserved.
2. In subtle undertones, I have felt in some cases, that men feel a little reluctant or even impatient and irritable, when being led by a woman leader. I felt this more than just a few times, being in projects where I was the director and/or producer. In such cases, more often than not, one can be faced with ‘passive resistance’.
Which famous musicians do you admire?
The musicians I have been recently listening to, belong to a diverse range of styles and genres: Anywhere from Abida Parveen ji, to Ustad Naseer-ud-Din Saami to Pandit Ravi Shankar ji, to Tomatito, Oumo Sangari, to The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Etta James, Nina Simone, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, to Chris Cornell, Steve Vai, Cold Play, Jacob Collier, to experimental music by the likes of Brian Eno, Felicia Atkinson, to hybrid composers like Nico Muhli, Erik Satie, etc. And I believe this is the boiling pot for my eclectic mix of styles and influences in my own songwriting and performance as performer/songwriter/producer.
Any interesting memory that makes a particular gig, you performed your favorite?
Let me quote a memory which was the first that came to mind upon reading your question (though I do have a few favorite memories from different events): There was this moment on stage at the Fusion Festival Punjab-Gilgit-Baltistan (2017), where I was producing, directing, composing and also performing for 5 days with my ensemble. It was a cross-regional Folk fusion (Punjab & GB), and some youngsters from the Gilgit Students’ Council gave us trouble during the performance of one song. Upon asking them about what they wanted, they shouted a ‘Shinaa’ artist’s name who was on my ensemble (‘Shinaa’ is the main language spoken in Gilgit). What followed, is something I’m still proud of, till date: I spontaneously announced onstage, that the idea I had conceived for the folk fusion segment of the music production of the festival (I produced the music segment), entails a sacred fusion of not just languages and folk forms in music, but also serves as an effort to eliminate sectarian, religious and other differences, and to bring the musicians as well as the public, together in harmony through culture & music. As I finished saying this in what seemed like a single breath, the whole auditorium (Alhamra Arts Council, Hall 1) which was silently with me on this, began clapping.
What is something people might be surprised to know about you?
Well, what surprises people, is different for different people. But, what I believe could be more generally surprising for people to know about me, is my spiritual dimension. And by that, I mean the fact that my whole life operates around the faith centre, for which attachment to a dogma is required. So yes, I’m a religious-minded person who sees a path beyond ‘Shariah’ into ‘Ruhaniyat’, but not without being grounded in Shariah first, at least at many levels.
How would you want the world to remember you?
I want the world to remember me as a person with a kind smile and a warm heart. A well-balanced and creative individual, who lives life and loved creation fully: a warrior, a dreamer, a peacemaker, a mad poet and artist!
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