Tuesday, May 22, 2012

“The '80s and '90s were the peak in Pakistan’s pop music history, and we wanted to pay a tribute to that era.” – Faiza Mujahid


Singer Faiza Mujahid and DJ Shahrukh Sheikh talk to Instep Today about their cover of the Vital Signs classic ‘Do Pal’

The last few years have seen many artists in our music industry join forces to create some very interesting songs and projects. Joining that club are singer Faiza Mujahid and DJ Shahrukh Sheikh. The duo have recorded a cover of the song 'Do Pal' together, bringing house music to the fore while paying tribute to one of the biggest pop bands in Pakistani music history, the Vital Signs.

The musicians

Faiza Mujahid first gained prominence for her contribution to the soundtrack of the film Khuda Kay Liye. “I did three songs for that movie - 'Mahi Ve', the title track, 'Khuda Kay Liye' and the famous 'Bundeya Ho',” recalls the singer, but instead of focusing on music following the success of her songs, she instead chose to step away from the limelight. “Music is my passion. After the success of 'Bundeya Ho', I took a back seat as I was very young and didn't know how to handle this profession. But then it felt like something was missing from my life. Then after a long gap, I came back with 'Meri Zindagi'. Now everything seems complete. I think I can't breathe without music in my life!"

Shahrukh Sheikh shares Faiza's passion for music. “(Music is) the only thing I was ever good at,” he says. “I used to play music at house parties and fashion shows when I was in college, and from all the encouragement I got I felt that this is it.” The DJ has performed at various international venues, and has also seen success with his remixes. “I've done remixes of Quaid-e-Azam's speech called 'The Creation', Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's 'Halka Halka Suroor', and Abida Parveen's 'Ghoom Charakhra', which were all part of a live set for a HSY CD. I did a remix of Noor Jehan's 'Munda Shehar Lahore Da' for a TV show back in 2005. I've done a CD for CrossRoads with remixes from the movie Grease. In 2008, I did a song called 'Kalyan Lang Jani' in collaboration with my friend Tehseen on vocals. In 2010, I did the 'Veena Remix' which went wildly viral, with over 150,000 views in the first four days of its release on YouTube.”

The collaboration

The two musicians were attracted to the idea of a collaboration as it would give them a chance to unite their talents, merge different sounds and genres, and create something different. “I always wanted to feature a good vocalist on my tracks,” explains Shahrukh, “and when I met Faiza at a friend's place, I instantly thought 'music'. I called a common friend, RJ Sumayrah, to ask Faiza if she would be interested in a collaboration. I'd heard her songs before and I always felt that the timbre of her voice deserves a deep-tech groove.”

“When Shahrukh called me one random morning and talked about the collaboration I was not sure, as it was something very different from what I had been doing,” reveals Faiza. “But the fusion sounded interesting. I'm always open to experiments. And I wanted to try something new to make my entrance back in the music scene. After the song was recorded, I was so happy with the way it turned out. Now we are thinking of doing some more songs together, and mixing it with a feel of rock as that's my true genre.”

The song

The duo chose to record a cover version of a two decade old hit; they did, however, put their own spin on the track. “'Do Pal' by Vital Signs has a very classic rock feel,” explains Faiza. “We thought that it would be interesting to fuse it with house. Plus it is a beautifully written song by Mr. Shoaib Mansoor.” “It's a song originally performed by Vital Signs back in the day when we had only one television channel,” elaborates Shahrukh. “I grew up listening to this song and got motivated by it in sports and especially during exams. The song was recorded at Digital Inn studios by Ali Mustafa, who has done a great job in rearranging the whole track. The sound is contemporary internationally. In Pakistan, it's still something very fresh and new. We have tried to fuse the genre of house music with our own vocals. And it's a combination that is going to set new trends in our local scene.”

Why did they chose this song? In part, as a tribute to a past era. Faiza says, “We are seeing very difficult times in the music industry at the moment. The '80s and '90s were the peak in Pakistan's pop music history, and we wanted to pay a tribute to that era.”

Another factor for the choice of song was that Shahrukh felt the tune was suitable for a house arrangement. “The original arrangement of this song was also very tech and futuristic, and the lyrics were about positivity and progress. It's a unique combination and we felt that this song deserves to be restored.” Shahrukh thinks electronic music is steadily making its way into the Pakistani music scene. “Electronic music has globally taken over and is slowly being introduced in Pakistan. It represents the modern urban lifestyle and it is being fused with all genres of music. Club culture is infusing in our concerts and more and more people want to dance and feel free.”

The musicians are both pleased with their collaboration and say they had a great time working with each other. “We never faced a creative or practical conflict and if we did, it was easily dealt with,” says Shahrukh, who is looking forward to working on “a live act with Faiza”. “It's very important to be on the same wavelength if you are working with someone, and Shahrukh is extremely humble and easy to work with,” reciprocates Faiza, and she promises that the audience will be treated to more “new tracks, performances, and covers” very soon. 

- By Sameen Amer

Instep Today, The News - 22nd May, 2012

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