The Unforgettable Umair Jaswal

The Unforgettable Umair Jaswal

August 27, 2016

[gallery size="full" td_select_gallery_slide="slide" ids="80303,80304"]By Mariam Nihal
Saudi Gazette

A force to be reckoned with, Pakistan owes much to Umair Jaswal and the youth behind its prolific music industry. Having been in the game for over a decade, Jaswal is the batsman you can count on to last during a formidable game. Like great artists, he’s had his share of fame and obscurities but he’s always been a name you’ve wanted to see again—be it for art or his fans. Jaswal launched the 9th edition of the world famous Coke Studio Pakistan with the first episode that aired on August 13. He performed a high energy set using raspy vocals to give life to the folk Rajasthani-Punjabi song ‘Sasu Maangey’. The rockstar is known for huge memorable hits with his former band Qayaas, ‘Charkha Nolakha’ with Atif Aslam and now with his career in acting he is part of the biggest TV show in Pakistan. Jaswal is set to conquer new heights. If there’s one thing that sets him apart other than his distinct and quality vocals, it is his perpetual love affair with music. We caught up with Jaswal, who struck a humble and earnest tone throughout the interview, with nervous laughs and an endearing demeanor, letting us know nothing can faze him, especially not stardom. If you think he has surpassed his prime, think again. This rockstar is here to stay and ready for more.

I like to address my own issues and fight my demons with my music. My music has a very positive effect on my life. It’s like me inventing and me putting all my burdens aside—talking about things, addressing things and feeling things. I think I try writing my music with a purpose; I try writing my lyrics with a message so that it’s not just music, not just for entertainment, not just a thought or idea but a message. People see hope in my message and I receive great responses from all over the world about how my music has affected their lives, how they’ve become better human beings and how my music has healed them. All these words are very encouraging and make me believe I am doing the right thing.

SG: How has your journey been so far?
It’s been a decade since you officially started.
How would you describe it?

UJ: It’s been an amazing journey. 10 years in music is a very important part of your life. It wasn’t easy at all. There were years when we couldn’t play a single show. I just had to hang in there through the tough times. Alhamdulillah I am here now. I am very proud of myself for sticking it out and hanging on to what I love for 10 years now. Feels great!

 SG: Tell us about Qayaas
and what it’s about at this
point in time.

UJ: I was a part of Qayaas and Qayaas is no more. I am making music as Umair Jaswal. There was a transition from a band to becoming a solo artist. And the reason behind that is that it is really difficult for a band to survive these days. I wanted to pursue music as a career and to be able to make music that I really want to make and put out there. There were some musical differences and that’s why we couldn’t carry on but at the same time the album we made together received some great reviews and international awards.
SG: Coke Studio has been a platform for great music and we’ve seen you shine numerous times. Can you tell us about your experience?

UJ: I am just very happy that the people of Pakistan and at Coca Cola really love me. They keep telling them to bring me back. And every year I somehow manage to be at the show. So it’s my fourth appearance on the show and fifth year with Coca Cola now. The experience has been amazing. Half of my journey has been with Coca Cola. They have played a huge role in my success and they’ve given me a platform where I could shine and tell the world what I am made up of. I am really glad and let’s see maybe I’ll be in a couple of more. So far it’s been amazing!
SG: We’d love to know more about ‘Sammi Meri Waar’ and what you’re working on next.

UJ: ‘Sammu Meri Waar’ -- if you look at the track, it’s an old folk tune that women used to sing at weddings. It’s probably been around for 300 years now. The idea came to Bilal and Faisal. They wanted to do something different and wanted to create a new song around it. That was a lot of fun. We got to work on creating a new song together. It received so much love from all over the world and connected with everyone. I think by far it is one of the most famous songs from Coke Studio and from my end. I am very proud of that song. I am working on my own stuff now. I have two songs this season. The first did really well Alhamdulillah. As far as my music is concerned, my next album is ready and I am just looking for a decent window to release it.
SG: One of the most memorable performances has been ‘Charkla Nolaka’. How was it working with Atif Aslam and that brand of music together?

UJ: Atif is a great, great musician and a good friend as well. I had an amazing experience working with him. He is a gem of an artist. He and I worked on a song with our band, we shared it with Rohail and he really liked the idea. That’s how it made it to Season 5 at Coke Studio. It got me a lot of attention even though I wasn’t a solo artist at that time. I got a lot of love and affection from all over Pakistan. It is still one of my favorites.
SG: What inspires you?

UJ: Everything that happens around me basically inspires me. Whatever I see or hear, I absorb it and communicate it in my own way. I try to express myself through music. It could be a belief, a thought or a message. I don’t primarily just stick to singing love songs. I address issues as well. If you pick up my album, you’ll see I am talking about a variety of things because I write my own lyrics. I think that everything that happens around me has the ability to inspire me. And that’s how I tell everything I have to tell.
SG: Your guiding light,
beyond music?

UJ: Has to be the One and Only, The Almighty. I believe He sent me here with a purpose to spread peace and love. That’s what I am trying to do with my music. I am trying to make people smile and love each other. I am trying to make this world a better place by giving them a message of tolerance and of hope and love. That’s why I keep on going. That’s why becoming famous and a star do not mean anything to me. I just want to be a good human being and I just want to have a very strong message of love that I want to share with everyone in the world. And when your intentions are pure, you see it happening in front of your eyes and you see people fall in love with you and your message and your music. I think He has always been there, guiding me and inspiring me because there’s a strong connection between Sufism and music. There’s a strong connect with the message of love, peace, tolerance and humanity and that is one message I strongly believe in.

SG:  Who would you like
to perform or collaborate with?

UJ: I would really like to play with my inspirations like Metallica and Guns n Roses in a rock concert. I would love to share the stage with them. If it’s meant to be it will happen, nothing is impossible in life.
SG: Any plans for
the Middle East?

UJ: I was surprised to hear that I have a huge fan base in the Middle East like Dubai, Qatar and even in Saudi. I do have plans to perform in Dubai very soon and I’ll try my level best to make myself more available to fans around the world.
SG: What’s your current favorite track?

UJ: ‘Dost’ by Abida Parveen. It keeps ringing in my head for some reason. It’s in my playlist and I am constantly listening to it. She’s a phenomenal vocalist and human being. She believes in the message of humanity and Sufism. I hope she lives a very long and healthy life so we can be cured and healed by the magic of her music and her voice!

August 27, 2016