April 15, 2002

Featured Artist – Arieb Azhar

A kaleidoscope. The tiny, claustrophobic streets of Mochi darwaaza ka mohalla in Lahore. Haunting, amused faces. A spiritual song woven around a Sufi poem. This was the music video for “Husn-e-Haqiqi (Beauty of truth)”, Arieb’s first single, released just a few months ago. Done in a ‘kaleidoscope’ effect (where two different pictures/scenes merge into one), the video depicted images moving and merging, dissolving and fading at a pace that matched the cadence of the song.

The result is absorbing.

While the video was done on a tight budget, its simplistic uniqueness was best suited for this melodic, chanting-like number. While it borders on the plain, at the same time, it is a visual mind-trip.
Arieb Azhar’s story as a musician is a fascinating one.

Music, documentary film : Arieb Azhar

Azhar

Name : Arieb Azhar

City : Islamabad

Age : 36

Field : Music, documentary film

Contact:

Email : ariebazhar@gmail.com

Cell :

Website : under construction

Current Motto : Live so as not to die, laugh so as not to cry, focus on the light so as not to be engulfed by darkness

About you:
My mother tells me that when I was born I cried for three days – so I started developing my vocal chords early! All that I’ve done since then is put it in tune! I was always into folk music from all over the world, and when I went to Zagreb at the age of 19, I had the opportunity of playing along with Balkan, Bolivian and Irish musicians as well. There we also recorded a couple of albums of Irish Music under the band name of, “The Shamrock Rovers”. After 13 beautiful years in Croatia I decided that I needed more exposure in the ‘spirit’ of Pakistani folk music before I could actually feel good about creating my own music relevant Pakistan, and so 4 years ago I shifted back here.

About your work and vision
For the last 4 years I’ve been involved in advancing my vocal style, writing and composing music, which would touch the hearts of the people, and trying to support other artists who are trying to make a positive change in their environment. 2 years ago my first album in Pakistan came out under the name of, ‘Wajj’. Now I am in the process of recording some tracks for my second album. Last year I also produced and hosted a 13 episode music-travel documentary series in Bosnia and Croatia, which will be launched on Aag TV sometime this month. The film is called, ‘Salaam Balkan – A Musical Diary of Bosnia and Croatia’, and explores the diverse and rich music scene of that region of the Balkans. As time goes by I feel I need to involve myself more in promoting and creating music that uplifts the hearts of people and creates a ‘state’ of joyful expression and acceptance for all the diverse colours of this world. If I was to label myself as anything, I suppose it would be as a ‘humanist’.

Current projects/activities:
I am currently involved in the process of recording, composing and writing material for my second album. Besides some old ‘humanist’ poetry, which people call ‘Sufi’, it will also include some contemporary relevant poetry as well as some of my own verses. For this project I am working closely with my friends in Lahore who share the same vision but who have had different musical backgrounds – which should all come into the music. I am also putting together a project with some friends for another documentary series which will include more travel, music and good times!

About Lahore or Pakistani culture:
The urban culture of Pakistan (confined mainly to Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi) is still in a process of development. The soil of this part of the world has produced such geniuses in poetry, music and art, whose works have had an impact on all of humanity. It would seem a simple task to grow on such strong and deep roots, but on another level the tunnel vision of prejudiced religion, and selfish, greed based politics has been growing like a cancer for the last several years and is trying to drown out the ‘humanist’ way in all fields of life. If the attitudes of people make up a ‘culture’ then I suppose Pakistani culture is in a state of war!

Work Samples:

Albums in Pakistan: ‘Wajj’ – Arieb Azhar

Albums in Croatia: From a Spark to a Flame’, and ‘As I Roved Out’ – The Shamrock Rovers

Documentary series, ‘Salaam Balkan – A musical Journey through Bosnia and Croatia’, to be aired on Aag TV from this month.
Next Events:
‘The Friday the 13th Jam’ in Lahore on 13th June, and the ‘Sweet Leaf City Jam’ in Islamabad in 14th June

Media releases:
Documentary series, ‘Salaam Balkan – A musical Journey through Bosnia and Croatia’, to be aired on Aag TV from this month.

Since when are you in the music/art scene?
Since I was born I started expressing myself! And I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. Early on I discovered I had a strong voice and got attention when I sang. So the process of ‘what should I sing?’ started pretty early.

Why did you choose being an artist as your profession?
I cannot imagine myself doing a job just for the sake of earning a salary. I believe in ‘work’ not ‘job’. I thought that if I gave enough attention and love to my music, it would take care of all my needs.

What do you think should be done to improve the situation of artists in Pakistan?
I think first of all music should be promoted on all levels of society. In a conservative society the only music that flourishes, ironically, is ‘Mujra/Pop’ music! The producers and financiers of this country should cater to the common people, not just to an elite target niche of consumers. The intention of promoting music should be, to ‘commune’ with the hearts of people, not to create consumers. All indigenous music and cultures should be especially promoted and encouraged. Diversity should be encouraged. There is no shortage of brilliant musicians in Pakistan but most of them are forced to work as background session musicians for third rate pop artists! An honest musician should be seen as a god!

With which artists have you been working together/jamming?
The list is endless! But the people I am currently working together with are: Akmal Qadri – flute, Shah Jahan – guitars/sound producer, Basim – bass, Shani – guitars, Mitthu Sain – dholl, Zohaib Hassan – sarangi.

What would you express with?

Sa_____________ The Earth or Gaya/Foundation/Origin

Re_____________ The Moon and Lesser Planets

Ga_____________ The Stars/Fire

Ma_____________ The Waters

Pa_____________ The Human Being

Dha_____________ The Explosion of the Heart

Ni_____________ The Longing/Reaching/Journey/Quest
Do the following colors have some meaning for you?

Black – Rest/Peace

White – Potential

Red – Passion

Yellow – Otherness

Green – Growth

Blue – Expanse/Freshness

Turquoise – Clarity

Lemon – Coolness

Brown – Earth

Violet – Protection

Orange – Lightness

What do you think about the Pakistani food scene?
I think it’s beautiful. Wouldn’t mind a bit more vegetarian variety though.

Which kind of events do you attend?
Any events which friends have organized, or are participating in, or have especially recommended, or might be interested in.

Do people need art and music if yes why?
Art is the expression of life. According to the metaphor, ‘God created Man in his own image, or vice versa if you please”, it is an expression of humanity.

What are your upcoming projects?
Second album in Pakistan and another documentary series whose concept we are in the process of preparing.

What kind of music do you like?
Mostly folk music with a modern, funky twist or ‘Ethno music’ from the Subcontinent, the Balkans, Africa, Ireland, Latin America etc. Also classic Rock, Bluegrass, some Classical. Amongst more modern music I like some electronic-punk-fusion like ‘Manu Cao’.

Who is your inspiration?
Tan Sen, Bach, Pathaney Khan, Abida Parween, Razziudin Qawwal, Shiv Kumar Sharma, Goran Bregovic, Christy Moore, Luke Kelly, Saban Bajramovic, Seiku Keita, Manu Cao, Vilayat Khan…

What is your message?
Love and let love!