Abdullah HarrisPhir milein gey kabhiAjnabi ki tarhaIss aas meinDil neSubha rakhi hai[We will meet again somedayLike strangersIn this hopeMy heartHas kept morning close]
Faisal Kapadia sang the lyrics to the ultimate music of this season’s Coke Studio (CS) and the phrases rang true, for the viewers actually was assembly him once more. Nearly like a stranger.
It had been greater than two years because the coronavirus pandemic had halted stay musical performances and a yr since Faisal had parted methods with fellow musician Bilal Maqsood, ending a whopping 32 years as a part of the band Strings. Strings’ closing goodbye, posted on social media, had been an emotional one for his or her followers, however it was now main on to new avenues, new potentialities.
‘Phir milein gey kabhi …’ Faisal Kapadia’s deep baritone rang out. It was a well-known timbre, one which so many followers had grown up listening to, linked to songs of affection and heartbreak, patriotism, anthems for the youth. It felt so good to listen to that voice once more, spinning out a brand new melody. The music topped the charts, not simply in Pakistan however even on world digital music platforms.
What an effective way to make a comeback. I had met Faisal Kapadia shortly after the music’s launch and requested him if he had particularly deliberate to make a splash together with his first musical efficiency on his personal, with out the Strings tagline? No, he advised me.
Faisal Kapadia just lately launched his first music as a solo artist, after the disbanding of Strings. It reminded folks of what that they had missed for greater than a yr — his distinctive baritone voice. What introduced him again to Coke Studio? Did he count on the music to be such a success? And the place does he go from right here?
“I don’t really plan things out that way,” he mentioned. “I have never planned out any song with the aim that it needs to be a hit. My criteria has always been that I need to like the song and it needs to connect with me. I am really thankful, though. This song marks the start of a new journey and people have liked it so much.”
It could be a brand new journey however, from what I can inform, Faisal is in no hurry to launch himself into it, full-throttle. The CS music has been successful however he doesn’t fairly know what he’ll be doing subsequent. He’s having fun with followers’ reactions to the music and, on the time of this interview, has flown in to Pakistan from his dwelling in Dubai for a CS celebration, which showcased a few of the season’s hits within the cinema.
He’s carrying his signature bandana, paired with sunshades. His spouse Seema, he tells me, plans out his wardrobe — I inform him that she does an incredible job.
“I don’t worry too much about the future,” Faisal says. “There was a protracted section when each Bilal and I had been elevating our sons and Strings was our bread and butter. We would have liked a constant life-style and revenue at the moment. Now, our boys have grown up and are about to pave their very own methods. It made the choice to finish Strings easier. As soon as issues had been over, I simply thought that I’d spend extra time with my household and music wasn’t actually on the playing cards. I had no plans.
“As Strings, we had managed to realize so many milestones, from performing stay everywhere in the world to singing for worldwide soundtracks to producing a few of Coke Studio’s most profitable seasons. I’m so proud that we lasted for so long as 32 years — there are only a few bands, the world over, who handle to remain collectively for as lengthy.
“Now, I was just willing to just go wherever life took me and, somehow, it took me to Coke Studio.”
The all-new CS expertise
Nadir FirozFaisal continues, “Xulfi [CS’ new curator and producer] known as me and requested me to sing this music and, initially, I used to be confused. I believe that he’s a superb producer and composer however I wasn’t positive about how I’d go about singing solo now that I used to be not a part of a band that had been a part of my id for therefore a few years.
“I obtained actually excited when Xulfi advised me that he needed me to collaborate with Younger Stunners. This was one thing that I had by no means performed and which was not completely my area. I used to be going to be transferring out of my consolation zone and expertise one thing new and study from it. I mentioned, ‘Okay let’s do it’.
“Even the video has been shot in such a unique way, with a single camera shooting us while we walk through different passages. That was something new too.”
Did he not fear that this new expertise is probably not appreciated by audiences? CS songs have at all times borne the singular burden and blessing of being dissected by audiences. Those which can be successful grow to be mega-hits — others are thrashed relentlessly on social media. As a once-music director of CS, Faisal is well-acquainted with this stress. With Phir milein gey, he tells me, he didn’t fear in any respect.
“I’m 50 now and I’m now in this zone when I don’t obsess over a song being a hit. Also, I wasn’t the producer. I had the confidence that I was working with a team of experts who were the best in the business. I liked the song, which made me hope that people would like it too. It wasn’t something that I dwelt much on.”
Does he like the brand new rebooted format of this yr’s CS?
“Yes, it’s truly a reinvention,” he observes, “and if this alteration hadn’t come about proper now, it might have steadily grow to be too late. Over the previous two years, the coronavirus pandemic modified folks’s notion of leisure. Visuals have grow to be crucial, and there was an upsurge of younger expertise with distinctive sounds of their very own. Authentic releases have grow to be extra well-liked than covers.
“This year’s Coke Studio features so many young musicians, such as Hassan Raheem, Young Stunners and Abdullah Siddiqui. The times have changed completely. We’re back to the ’90s, when new musicians with new visions were surfacing.”
Is that this additionally a time when musicians can solely make a mark by transferring out of their consolation zones and continuously experimenting? Phir milein gey, as an example, was an experiment of kinds, merging Faisal’s vocals with edgy rap music.
“Yes!” he agrees. “And I have learnt so much from these new musicians. I hope to keep learning more.”
Strings’ enduring legacy
This can be a usually humble response. He could have chalked out one in every of Pakistani music’s most abiding musical legacies, have a colossal fan following and — with the bandana firmly in place — epitomise a rockstar, however Faisal Kapadia has at all times come off as very all the way down to earth.
A working example is once I ask him how he managed funds as soon as Strings broke up. The band had nonetheless been driving excessive final yr, attracting sponsors and getting supplied work, when Bilal and Faisal determined that it was time to stop.
I keep in mind speaking to him shortly after he and Bilal had shaken the web with an Instagram publish that introduced their disbanding, and he had advised me that the 2 of them had needed to finish on a constructive observe reasonably than threat turning into forgettable. It was a sensible choice, however it additionally absolutely will need to have hampered their respective money flows. How did he handle post-Strings’ break-up?
“My boys have grown up now so there was less pressure to keep earning a certain amount,” he factors out. “And likewise, personally, I’ve at all times had quite simple wants. I nonetheless drive the identical automobile that I’ve had since 2006. And for eight years, whereas dwelling in Dubai, I didn’t have a automobile. If I wanted to go anyplace, I’d simply name a cab.
“I’m very happy surfing through Netflix for entertainment and I don’t even like expensive food. I do like pizza but, even then, I try to avail a buy-one-get-one-free deal!” he laughs.
We revert to speaking about how Strings had ended. There had been rumours that the present Velo Sound Station had been the ultimate straw, indicating that each Bilal and Faisal wanted to go their separate methods. The band had nonetheless been intact when it had been introduced that Bilal Maqsood alone could be directing the present.
“Strings was approached for that project but I didn’t want to do it for personal reasons,” he says. “The band was nonetheless there, though our work had roughly halted due to Covid-19. Then, a number of months later, throughout a time when the coronavirus pandemic was at bay, each Bilal and I had been performing for a Girls’s Day occasion and we determined that the band wanted to finish.
“It was something that we had contemplated many times before but, this time, we decided to go ahead with it. Everything has to end one day and we didn’t want to linger on to a point where we would just fade away.”
The times following the announcement had been surreal ones for each him and Bilal. I keep in mind Faisal telling me that it felt as if he had misplaced the roof above his head. Strings’ followers had been simply as distressed, posting heartbroken feedback on social media and remembering their favorite Strings’ songs.
“The immense love that we received was such a blessing,” agrees Faisal. “Normally musicians solely get remembered with such enthusiasm as soon as they’ve handed away and they’re by no means capable of see it for themselves. In any other case, perhaps if one in every of us had died, the opposite one would have skilled the followers’ response.
“To date, people still ask me why Strings broke up. I’m glad that they do. It shows their love for us,” he smiles.
The solo path
Abdullah HarrisPeople may even most likely at all times ask him to sing his hit Strings’ songs. “Of course,” he agrees. “The music that Bilal and I released as Strings is all we have. In fact, I just performed solo for the first time at the Dubai Expo, and I sang many of my Strings songs.”
The live performance in Dubai merged collectively the musical abilities of three nations, with Euphoria from India, James and Nagar Baul from Bangladesh and Faisal representing Pakistan sharing the stage collectively. Did he get a rush approaching stage after so lengthy?
“I felt a bit nervous as well as excited. I was going to be performing after two years and stepping out as a solo artist for the first time,” he admits.
“Two of my former Strings band members, guitarist Adeel Ali and keyboardist Haider Ali were also on stage with me, which made things more familiar. And I was performing with Euphoria, a band that we have known for years. Palash Sen, the band’s lead vocalist, is an old friend. I sang some of my own songs and, then, we also all sang songs together. It was a concert which gave out a message of peace and how music knows no boundaries.”
That could be true however there are barbed boundaries separating India and Pakistan. Hasn’t Faisal ever acquired backlash for his shut friendships with Indian artists? His Instagram web page, as an example, reveals him hanging out in Dubai with notable Indian artists resembling Hariharan, Sonu Nigam and Javed Jafri.
“No,” he says, “there was a time during the coronavirus pandemic when the Indian government placed a restriction on artists from India and Pakistan having live discussions on social media. Otherwise, there hasn’t ever been any backlash.”
Additionally a part of Faisal’s new journey is his function as model ambassador to Particular Olympics Pakistan (SOP). Actually, a day previous to my interview with him, he had been attending an occasion for the organisation and had sung a lot that his voice was now hoarse. How was he going to be serving to out the SOP?
“It’s a trigger that I’ve been related to earlier than, once I was a part of Strings. Two years in the past, we launched a music known as Tum Aasman Ho for them. Now, when actress Sarwat Gillani, who can also be a model ambassador, despatched me a message asking if I needed to return on board, I instantly agreed. I felt that this was my time to present again.
“The SOP is very committed to creating a feeling of inclusivity amongst children and adults with disabilities. Once children begin training with the SOP and succeeding, it helps build their confidence. And confidence is everything in life. I’m going to be helping out the organisation however I can — by building awareness, talking to people about what SOP has achieved, attending events, maybe even having concerts and creating songs for them!”
Will we be listening to a music for the SOP quickly? Or any music, a brand new single, sung by Faisal Kapadia?
“Not at the moment,” he says.
Characteristically, Faisal is just going with the stream, letting life take him to new musical domains and experiences. His solo act, although, is off to an incredible begin. We’re ready for extra.
Initially revealed in Daybreak, ICON, Might eighth, 2022