In conversation with Jehangir Aziz Hayat

By Nayab Najam Artists are known to pen down their thoughts and feelings much more eloquently than the rest of us. The best of singers pen their own lyrics in which they more often than not try to convey a message. Sometimes it may be about the world or life in general, but sometimes it’s much darker than that. When it comes to past experiences and their profound effect on an artist’s life, we have the example of Jehangir Aziz Hayat. While many know him as the award winning guitarist and composer from Pakistan, if we take a look at the events that have shaped up his life, his musical preferences and background; it is only then that we realize that there is so much more to Hayat than what meets the eye.

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Coming from a Pashtun family, with his musical influences being bands like Megadeth and Nirvana which range from being trash metal to American rock bands, Hayat isn’t your typical run of the mill composer which is probably what made him the first grunge musician in Pakistan with the release of his track ‘Never Change’ back in 2004. The early 2000’s were a time when not many artists dared to stray away from what was acceptable in the Pakistani music scene, so the production and acceptance of this track by the public was a feat in itself. Within the first week of the critically acclaimed song, it had reached commercial success given how it was topping charts and has been nominated for various MTV Awards.

Not only was he nominated for quite a few awards, he managed to bag almost all of them. Hayat won awards for the Best Male Alternative Artist, Best Alternative Recording and Best Alternative Video Under $5,000 at the Indie Music Channel Awards 2012.

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Going into Hayat’s background, we learn that he was from an influential family in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtun Khuwa with his father being the Chief Secretary of the province. With a setting like this in one of the more troubled areas of Pakistan, one would not expect Hayat to take on the field that he did, but it was not without the constant reassurance and assistance he got from home. Talking about his interest in playing the guitar, Hayat said “I never really wanted to play a musical instrument. I loved music but I never thought of ending up here. They (the guitar lessons) were a way for my parents to push me to take part in an extra circular activity since I was very shy.”

Coming back to Jehangir, he was only ten when incidents that would shape up his life, thinking and music took place, out of which one that left the most profound effect was the persecution of his father during the 1999 coup de tat under the General Pervez Musharaff regime. Hayat has been quoted many times saying that the events that transpired due to the politics of the country and how they effected his family had a great impact on the lyrical and melodic content of his compositions.

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With critical and commercial success after Never Change, Hayat took a hiatus of sorts and started work for his debut album after a good five years. Hayat was a very different musician to begin with, and this record highlighted that more than anything with a much heavier sound than his regular alternative rock style.

After his debut album and its expected success, Hayat went on to release three more singles and very recently, a full-fledged album titled In The Fray in the start of 2014.

The team over at Taazi would like to thank Jehangir for taking out the time to answer a few fun rapid fire questions for his fans.

1. Favorite song from Megadeth since they are listed as your musical influence?
“The Skull Beneath the Skin”

2. If you got the opportunity to perform live with any one artist, local and international, who would it be?
Sarmad Ghafoor and Dave Grohl.

3. Which artists do you wish to work with in the future? Local and international.
Louis J. Pinto and Dave Grohl.

4. Do you believe consistency is key to stay relevant in the Pakistani music industry?
Yes – especially with the saturation of artists today.

5. Given how politics has changed your life, would you say music has the power of changing people thinking in Pakistan?
Yes. I believe it provides an avenue for articulation.

6. What is more important? Critical or commercial success?
Commercial success based on critical validation.

7. If it came down to choosing between In Flames and Nirvana as your musical producers, whom would you choose?
Nirvana, all the way.

8. Name one Pakistani artist whose lyrics and music have changed your thinking?
Sajid Ghafoor.

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9. Name one song, whether local or international, that summarizes up your feelings so well, you would think it’s as if the artist is talking exactly to you.
“No Rain” by Blind Melon.

10. Choose a sentence from your own songs lyrics that have been your favorite.
“Oppression leads to greatness; heroes die where demons reign.”

11. Beauty or brains?
Both!

12. What would you choose? One critically acclaimed song or a commercially popular run of the mill album?
A critically acclaimed song from a commercially viable album.

Thank You very much Jehangir for taking out time for this Interview.
We  wish you all the very best!

 

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