by AHMAD UZAIR || In this age of commercialism, its hard to come across artists in mainstream media who are sticking to their originality and still producing some amazing work. Farhad Humayun, the front man of Overload , is certainly one of those very few musicians who do have a proper vision and ideology behind their music and are playing a major role in shaping up the future of the industry. Having given break to artists as big as Atif Aslam, and delivering some big hits in recent times such as Ankahi, Jeet, Neray Aah, Overload celebrated their 10th anniversary last year which marked their decade long successful career in the industry.
I recently had the chance of catching up with Farhad and asked him about his musical beginnings, his views on the current state of music industry and the future projects which he is looking forward to.
Here is what he has to say about all of this and that too in a very candid fashion.
You have been in the music industry for more than a decade. How do you look back on your struggle as a musician and your association with the loudest band of Pakistan, you being its front man?
Many questions within a question (smiles). See at any given stage every artist is struggling with one thing or the other. First you are struggling to attain a set of skills. For me these were drumming skills, now they are singing skills. And then I had to learn mixing mastering to improve my recording facilities. Now I am at another stage of my struggle where I am trying to break in to international circuit. Bollywood is certainly not my thing. For me, I am facing a bigger challenge because the international western market is totally alien so sitting in Pakistan and communicating with them is a huge task and something quite difficult.
Another thing that I would like to mention is that when we started playing in underground scene, there was nothing. We didn’t even have satellite channels, so it was hard to break in to the music scene. So if we were playing a concert, we would have to ourselves get our printing done, brochures, & posters and would get out at freezing nights to put them on the walls. So you know there have been various struggles that we have been part of.
Coming to my band, Overload is all that I do. Although I have done couple of songs in solo capacity but I really love being in Overload. There is an amazing chemistry between all the members despite the fact that we hail from different backgrounds.
How was your experience of producing and directing Pepsi Smash? What would you like to say about the changing musical trends in the country?
Pepsi was actually listening to a lot that we had to say. We had a lot of fun amongst the entire team, artists and the production crew. Also we executed ‘Smash’ in record time keeping in view that with corporation things have tendency of getting late. On Pepsi’s end they wanted to get back in to music and needed to test the waters as the trends have changed now.
On one hand it’s really good that companies are investing in bands and artists. But in actual all they care about is that if you can deliver a hit, they can sell their brand better and can gain a better place in market as well as the credibility. This is nothing new to Pakistan because corporations all over the world eventually end up dictating a lot of things. And in a market where independent music does not exist and there are no record labels, if the corporate music is the only thing then it’s great because it’s atleast keeping the music scene alive but on the other hand there is a lot of undiscovered music which they will not take the risk of picking up and exploring and making them stars. Becoming real stars has increasingly become difficult.
We recently heard that you are doing the musical score for an upcoming action comedy flick “Kambakht”. Anything you would like to share from this project?
I have seen the trailer of the movie and it looks promising. The director, Hamza Ali Abbasi, is a friend of mine and in the past also when he did an independent film, we did some music for him. I have just done one song, not the entire score. The name of song is “Kambakht” and I have sung it myself along with Faiza Mujahid and it would be the title track of the movie. Hopefully we’ll release a video of the song in a months’ time.
You have launched RiotArts.com couple of months ago. How has been the response so far and what is the basic idea behind it that you want to share with our readers?
The response has been massive; so far we have got about 100 videos that people have uploaded on their own. There is an audio section also. We don’t have an online shop yet because we are still talking to companies that sell digital content. But first and foremost we need a platform where you can showcase your work. If you are an artist sitting at home, you are not suddenly going to get on to MTV. You need to be heard first.
The main idea behind launching this new initiative is to showcase contemporary, progressive, young and old music of Pakistan. But I don’t want to get into the business side of it and this is certainly not a business venture for me or anybody involved with RiotArts.
Any special message to your fans who are dying to see more of Overload’s quality work. Any upcoming singles or videos in the pipeline?
I have about 50 songs lined up but they are half baked. I can finish them but owing to the circumstance through which we are passing, it’s really hard to put that stuff out there. If I am investing a year in to making new music I can do it. But if nobody hears to it so there is no point in my putting that one year. I’ll still keep on making songs, from 50 it will become 100 and so on. Those songs will remain with me but right now in light of what’s happening in the country it’s a strange time to come up with something new. I can certainly put my own money to make new music but I do not hope to get the return as no shows are happening. Even though these corporations are investing millions of dollars in musical campaigns but at the end of the day artist doesn’t make more than 2-3% of that.
I would probably do my upcoming stuff at the international level first and then bring it back to local scene through a proper channel so that it can be properly heard, seen and acknowledged.
I hate to sound negative. I am one of the most positive musicians you will ever come across but it’s just getting increasingly hard for me to release new work at my own. This is true for every artist at large
The latest update…
Well after many talks, Radio One and I, in collaboration with RiotArts, are putting together a show which will exclusively play Pakistani music. The show goes live after Ramzan.
The show is about playing the Pakistani content and music that the artists are uploading on RiotArts. So far it’s a 3 month campaign and we are still working on the mechanics of it but yes I’ll host the show myself.