|You and ‘Music’ how it all started?
My parents say that I used to respond when I was in diapers. How can a little boy in class 3rd can say that I’ll be a big singer one day?
It was just within me.
What made you choose music as a profession?
I felt that music can give me more satisfaction than any other profession can .It’s all about self satisfaction. I couldn’t see the misery of the people around and seeing them not getting their basic rights; I thought with having music as my profession; I’ll be able to give them a strong message of peace & no discrimination.
What was your family's reaction towards your singing mind-set?
It was very bad. They never supported me especially my father. I now feel that whatever they did was right because that compelled me to get better in singing and complete my education. As now I have completed my studies, they don’t have any problems because I proved that I’ve got that talent plus I’m just bringing them a good name MashAllah. Both of my younger brothers have been very helpful and cooperative through out.
You have completed your degree in IT so how have you managed to balance studies with your singing assignments?
I’m a very work-aholic person. That's the only way things have worked out for me. Whether it's my studies, my concerts or any other assignments, I spend a lot of time working. I don't sleep more than four or five hours a day. There are times when I sleep only one hour.
People say that singers hide there vocal weaknesses by using trance what do you say about it being a trance singer?
Well I don’t understand this thing. Trance is the most beautiful type of music and it has some feelings which have to be portrayed by some effects over the voice but don’t forget that all this is implemented over a voice so the expression has to be really good .As far as vocal weakness is concerned, c’mon gimme a break don’t judge me by the songs which I sung I was just 16. Now I’ve taken some classical training as well and day by day I’m maturing in my singing. See ya in the live concerts soon ;)
Good, so from whom you have taken your classical training?
You do not have to learn singing. It's your inside quality. However I have started training under Ustad Babar Ali Khan he has helped me to fine-tune my singing, earlier I also took classes from Ustad Tanweer Haider. There is a big world out there with which I’ll have to compete, so I better gear up to race with them!
When do you get time to practice?
I squeeze in time whenever I get. Sometimes I practice before I begin recording. Sometimes I practice before shows. If there’s nobody sitting next to me anywhere, I begin with my riyaz.
Tell about your first hit song and what were your feelings on it success?
"Sohni eik kuri" was my first hit song. After it released on FM-101, I got very good response. The best compliment came from my two die-hard fans that they danced their hearts out on their brother’s mehndi on this song. My feelings were simply great that first time I got appreciated so much.
How you feel being popular?
Just great. I thank Allah Almighty for giving me so much respect. I feel privileged to get a lot of attention and love .Its annoying at times as there are people out there who can make your life miserable liking by making crank calls and making you listen to your own song over the phone when you pick that up.
When you first time performed in public and how was response?
It’ll be very hard try to figure out that when was the first public performance because I had been performing since my school days but the first real public performance was the one for Fm 101 Islamabad. I opened the show in which Junaid Jamshed & Yasir Akhter performed as well .My performance went out very well, people thoroughly enjoyed and the moment I ended up the rain started so it was fun .Let me tell you a very interesting incident , some days before this show ,Dj Usman (HV wala) was present in a function for Special Children so he recommended me for the Fm show and that’s how my long association with Fm 101 started & that proved out to be my 1st major public performance.
Who is your ideal and source of inspiration in this field?
Honestly the 1st wave of Paki pop, all those artists who worked in early 90’s. But the person who really inspired me was Shehzad Roy; being a friend as well I was fortunate to be with him when he used to come Islamabad for his shows & videos. It all helped me to get better equipped for times to come.
Any big names from Pakistani music bunch with whom you got chance to work and perform with?
Allhamdolillah I’ve been quite lucky in this regard. I’ve worked with the best music producer of our country , Ali Mustafa ; Rizwan-ul-haq (Ex- VS Guitarist) , Sheryar Kureshi( Fringe Benefits) , Khalid Islam and a lot of other big names. I’ve performed with almost everyone from Junaid Jamshed to Junoon. I really learnt a lot from these big names.
You have done concerts outside Islamabad as well so how people respond to you in other cities?
Awesome , I was very scared when I did my 1st show in Lahore as I was performing after very big names in that show so when I came out , I was a bit nervous but crowd went wild when I started out . I just love doing shows.
Are you satisfied with the current music scene and trends in Pakistan?
Yes, it’s doing really good. I feel that we’re the best pop industry in the whole Asia. Where else can you find so much of the talent ?
Do you think that big labels and sponsors are only interested in mainstream singers and they do not welcome upcoming artists?
Yes that is the case. See labels look out for the people who are already up there in the mainstream. No one wants to take a risk with any new comer but we hope things will start changing soon.
Will you go for the deal where you will be asked to work under record label restrictions?
It looks pretty difficult as you know I took a U-turn and started working on more experimental music. I’m not doing it for the sake of few bucks; I along-with Ali Mustafa want to take Pakistani music to the new greater heights.
Do you have it in mind to go international with your release?
Yes 101 %, we’re already eyeing that and here I’d like to thank all the Pakistanis living abroad for supporting our music as artists represent their country.
What you think what measures should be taken to help upcoming artists?
I think that the upcoming artists find it very difficult to get funds 1st, and then they don’t have many places to perform. I really admire the way Café-M is doing in Karachi, similar opportunities can be produced in most cities so they can perform there .This way the new guys will be able to judge themselves and also get a good exposure.
Have you ever thought of making some band at any stage of your career?
Ahem ahem. I started out as a band. My 1st band was called Zero Meter, which had my brothers and me. But the 1st real band was Urooj. It comprised of me on vocals and Rhythm Guitars, Fahad Bilal on Guitars & Backing Vocals & Saeed Khan on Key Boards & Percussions. But we’re students then and we couldn’t do much further though we had a great response from the twin cities. Now offers come up from different musicians to form a band but it looks quite difficult that I form a band.
People liked ‘sohni aik kuri’ a lot so any plans to do more Punjabi bhangra in your album?
Yeah I’ll be doing Punjabi songs but in any next album as this album has a different feel. Whereas there is a fantastic bhangra song, I’ve worked on in this album for people who love such music.
Do you believe in ‘bara masalay ki chat’ by putting a national song, 2 to 3 bhangras, rap, fusion all in one album or you will go for one theme and mode for all the songs of album?
Actually I sometimes feel that it’s not a bad approach as an artist always wants to have the maximum listener ship plus sometimes the releasing labels ask to take out such an album. Whereas we’re concerned, when Ali Mustafa and I was planning the album we decided clearly that there won’t be any fillers in the album so it will be the best work of us.
There is a trend of doing remixes of old songs of famous singers?
Do you like this trend?
Yeah it is good as old forgotten songs are being revived. I guess it’s a very good trend.
So should we be expecting any such remix from your side?
I’m working with Ali Mustafa who believes in a very original work and I do agree with him .Yes sooner or later you can expect some remix from my side.
How much part in your opinion lyrics add up in making a song hit?
Lyrics do play a lot of important role. Actually to me it’s the songs concept which is most important. If the concept is good and clear then there are a lot of chances of song being a hit.
People blame pop stars for the weak lyrics what do you say why singers don’t hire professional lyricists to write for them?
As I’ve said before that its all about concept. If you see great artists like Bryan Adams their song-writing is simple and is according to the concept of the song so same is the case here. As Ali Mustafa or I come up with some concept then I guess there are not many people who can jot down some better lyrics. Though we show it to professional lyricists to improve it as much as we can or sometimes if we feel that we can’t do justice with them we always go for the professional lyricists.
What role Ali Mustafa has played in your musical career?
Ali bhai is my mentor and I feel privileged and proud for having been able to do what I could for him. You see Ali Mustafa worked hard to get me where I am today. To me he's a mentor, a brother and a father figure all roped into one. I don't ever question anything that he wants me to do. I know he would never ask me to do anything that would hurt my reputation.
who are your favorite local and international singers?
I like all the Pakistani pop singers and among western singers I like Bryan Adams, Darren Hayes and many more.
“All the Pakistani pop singers…” ... sounds like a diplomatic answer?
I meant all the good ones.
Tell us that are you into music direction too?
Apart from composing some songs for my own album, I am also composing songs for my friend. But I don't intend being a full-fledged music director, as singing is my first love.
You have been offered roles many times, so any plans to act in drama or film?
Yeah I’ve actually played a Hero in a drama. I also got offered for Rauf Khalid’s Laaj and lots of other big offers. I may consider a good offer which is something meaningful.
Talking of your singles, “Kaash Mil jaaye ' has been your biggest seller. What do you attribute its success to?
People want melody and Kash Mil Jaaye had a fresh feel. The music and lyrics were extremely nice. It’s all and out an Ali Mustafa song but it depicts the real me as well. On top of that, High Voltage did a fabulous job at marketing it.
Though you've been around for some time, it's only now that you're getting acknowledged as a singer. Why is that so?
I sometimes wish I'd come in now because this is the right time for any singer to make an entry. Music companies are quite willing to spend a bit today to launch new artists. I came in, in late 1996 and I've struggled quite a lot to find my feet & actually still struggling very hard. But I guess this way I’ll be more down-to-earth as I’ve seen most phases of life.
Do you think your good looks are responsible in some way for your success?
Yes my good looks, if at all I have them, are a blessing of God and whatever I have achieved till now is a gift of God. Looks, music and brains are all responsible for a person's success. And the whole world knows its God who gives it to every human being.
How much fan mail do you get in a single day?
20-25 mails per day at an average and I do read all of it. It's amazing to get so much of it.
Okay Basit, now let’s talk about few of other things apart from music?
Sure, why not.
Now tell us about your hobbies and what you do in spare time?
The list of my hobbies is: 1) Computers, philosophy, poetry, quotations, humor and biographies. 2) Dancing after locking myself alone in the room. 3) Playing cricket whenever I get time. 4) Composing songs. 5) Day dreaming. 6) Watching movies. 7) To sit cozily in my bed with my two brothers or friends around and chatting with them.
What would you wish for if a genie grants you three wishes?
Peace in the world, Prosperity of Pakistan and long & healthy life of my parents.
What is your biggest desire of life?
My desire is to see the entire world as a state of utopia, where everyone is at peace and harmony there is nothing like religion to divide people into groups and sects, where everybody respects everybody else's identity as a human being. And nobody needs to fear anybody, but I think it will never become a reality unfortunately.
Your ideal personality?
Wasim Akram because the way he has managed to cope with all the pressure situations throughout his career on and off the field and with having diabetics’ and coping with it, he has not got dependent on that disability. Him being so much mentally stronger, I’m in complete awe of him.
Any incident that has changed your life?
Life keeps on changing everyday, every moment, but there are some incidents which really changed my life like doing 1st show for the special children. I feel so close to them and want to do voluntanary shows for under-privileged people in the world who can’t afford good entertainment.
You have this image of being a sweet-innocent guy, is that really you?
Nothing about me is fake. I am nice to people who are genuine. I hate hypocrites and manipulative people. I am very forthright and don't fear the consequences even if it's a big shot in the industry as I have come up the hard way. I believe that I will deserve what I will get.
What type of person you are in your personal life?
I am quite a loner in my personal life, preferring to spend time at home, rather than attending parties and going out. I keep away from partying. I don’t understand or like that culture.
How would you like your future to be?
I want to earn enough money to make my family secure. To get married to a very understanding person. Then quit the pop industry when I feel the fire is no more there for my music, settle in the countryside, and build a cozy cottage on a farm, lots of cows, buffaloes and poultry with no radio or television. I want to go back to living like a human being, instead of a machine.
How do you react to statements that you look like Shahzad Roy?
I used to get very happy for that earlier in my life but then I felt that it can affect me in the negative way so I’ve developed my own identity. Coming back to your question it always feels great being matched with the like of Shehzad Roy.
How you judge someone in first meeting?
By one’s sense of humor and then I try to figure out the real person in him or her.
What you do to relax yourself?
I pray, read Holy Quran as nothing can relax you more than this.
When you get angry?
I don’t really get angry but I can get angry when something is going against my wish, which is very natural.
Many of your die heart fans want to know that whether you go for an arranged marriage or would you find your own partner?
When I was younger I always said that I’d never get married and I wouldn’t want to bring children in to this world where there is so much unhappiness. But my views have changed now and I may go for a love marriage and find my own partner, someone who would respect my family and also respect what I do.
you’re going to see a movie you will watch?
Any movie which can give me little laughter.
How would you want people to remember you?
As a nice fellow who was always there when they needed him.
Where you see yourself in next five years?
I see myself getting finally for which I’ve been struggling from so long. I see myself helping as many people as I can by all means Inshallah.
In the end any suggestion/advice to those who want to become a singer?
Yeah, singing is not that easy. Better get ready for some shocks. But it does pay after some struggle. Some people are that talented or lucky who get their chances quite early in their career otherwise it does take lot of time to get a proper launch pad .Another personal advice would be that try to have your education completed as well as a life of singer is always insecure so in other words don’t get heavily dependent on your singing career.
Message to your fans?
I’m here because of them. They rock and I’d like to continue the wonderful support always.