Interview with ABBAS HASAN
First of all thank you for giving your precious time to PakMediaRevolution.net. There’s a lot of curiosity about your origins given that you sing in Urdu, Hindi, French, English and Punjabi. Can you tell us more about yourself?
I’m Canadian-born but grew up in Paris, France. Then, after spending
some years in Canada I moved to London, England which is now my home.
But of course, I’m 100% desi at heart! [He laughs]
As a new up-coming artist you’ve already caused quite a stir in the music scene in London and are making waves internationally. How did you enter the field of music?
Music has always been my passion. After some adverts and public broadcasts at an early age in Paris, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I used to dream up melodies in my sleep and then wake up and try to remember them. One day I decided to start recording my album and luckily the response was really good. After some live performances, I caught the eyes of people in entertainment and media and the rest is history.
Your live performances are being televised internationally and are generating a lot of buzz for being dramatic and theatrical. Is this something you decided consciously?
Absolutely. I know that our people like to be entertained. They like to be challenged and inspired. I felt that they’re ready for something new. I see myself primarily as a performance artist so putting together a show is a form creative expression for me. I always have my dancers and I like the magic that comes from a theatrical pop performance. It’s about fantasy and being transported to another place. When people come to my shows, I want to see them get up and dance before they leave.
Performing in different styles and languages makes you quite a unique artist. Did you intend to have a more varied audience than traditional pop singers from Pakistan?
Ultimately I think music brings people together and that’s what I’m all about. My different cultural influences are bound to show up in my music, and I want to create music that all my different worlds can relate with. I think that the Asian music scene is so dynamic that audiences enjoy all kinds of eclectic styles. I like experimenting with styles and languages…. exposing people to something different, or a different perspective.
5. Is it hard to strike that balance?
Sometimes. Certain songs might work better in one country than another, but at the end of the day, I just try to create music that moves me in some way, and if feel right about it then I just have to trust it.
Your debut music video will be releasing soon. Can we get any hints as to what it’s about?
The theme of the video is ‘the darker side of obsession’. Think dark, mysterious, intoxicating… It was shot in London with a British director and the cast and crew came from all four corners of the globe. I had some really talented people worked with me on the video. All of the models’ costumes were off the runway from London Fashion Week by designer Omar Mansoor who also opened Karachi Fashion Week this year.
What was it like growing up in Paris? Would you say that has something to do with your versatile taste in music?
Paris is one of the most enchanting and inspiring cities in the world. It was a great place to grow up because I was surrounded by art, music and creative people who made me think. Of course it has an impact on my music but not necessarily in a conscious way. These days I’m really into mediteranean and middle-eastern music that’s been an influence on some of the songs on the album.
What inspired you to be a singer? Was it in your genes or you were brought-up by listening to music? How has your music evolved since you first began singing music?
Music has always been a part of my life and I’ve always been inspired by true artists who tell stories and push the boundaries of imagination. I always find myself surrounded by musicians, DJs or other creatives, and I was lucky to be exposed to music from so many different cultures. Recording in studio at a young age was a great learning process and it inspired me to innovate on my own. Now it’s just an ongoing obsession.
What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?
My music is pop but obviously it has influences ranging from Asian classical to middle-eastern and electronica. I think pop music can be truly brilliant when I think of artists like David Bowie, Michael Jackson and Prince who innovated and pushed limits, and that’s the league I want to follow. For me it’s all about keeping it fresh, interesting and real. My influences keep changing every day but these days artists who really inspire me include Goldfrapp and Abida Parveen. Very different from each other, I know!
Who do you work with musically?
I write my own songs or I collaborate with other artists. But I like to tell stories with my music so it has to come organically. I’ve collaborated with JKD productions on some of the songs, and I’m working with a variety of different producers. One of the guys I’m working with is a Romanian-Brit. It’s great when differing musical backgrounds come together.
What do you think of Pakistani and other Asian artists and who are the ones that have had the most profound impact on you?
I think that the Pakistani music industry is one of the richest and most prolific in the world in terms of quality. We have great masters like Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Madam Noor Jehan and Mehdi Hassan to look at for inspiration. As I said, I’m really into Abida Parveen and sufi music, which is really at the root of much of modern-day trance and electronic music. I also love A.R. Rahman’s work because he’s constantly innovating and reinventing classical ragas.
What’s your ultimate direction as a solo artist?
Let light lead the way. I’m a performance artist and I want to inspire people to let their imaginations take over.
You’ve graced quite a few magazine spreads as a model. Did this ever conflict with your music? Do have any exciting projects coming up that you can tell us about?
Modeling’s fun, but music is my real passion. One project I’m working on now is Niraj Chag’s new music video. I’ll be starring as the male lead and I can’t reveal too much but I can tell you that I play a bit of a bad guy in it!
How can fans find out more about you and your music?
The Facebook fan page is regularly updated with news and content on shows and events. My debut video releases this summer so everyone will be able to catch it on music channels then.
Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge for offering support in taking you to where you are today?
Just my friends and family. They’re the best…
Lastly, what would you like to say about PakMediaRevolution.Net & its team?
You guys are great. Keep doing your thing. Rock on!
an Interview by: Tayyaba Khushi (PMR)
Debut Single ‘Sona’ – Watch it