Saturday, April 26, 2014

“Artists can’t make music in an environment where there is 100% piracy” - Haroon

interview: music mix

Haroon and friends appeal to the freeloading awaam with their anti-piracy single ‘Maza Muft Ka’

Piracy has long plagued the global entertainment industry, with many claiming that copyright infringement hurts revenues and damages the careers of artists around the world. Now a group of Pakistani musicians have banded together to raise awareness about intellectual property rights through an anti-piracy song, titled ‘Maza Muft Ka (Chikh De Jao)’. The line-up is led by Haroon and includes well-known names like Abbas Ali Khan and Arieb Azhar, as well as Masuma Anwar and Philip Nelson. The music video has been unveiled this week to coincide with World Intellectual Property Day, which is being marked today.

“Piracy is common all over the world,” says Haroon, “but in Pakistan, it prevails across the board.” The song itself can be downloaded legally from the website for free, a decision which, according to the singer, “highlights that if you want something for free, it’s better to get it through the legal channel.”

Talking about the artists in the song, he continues, “All of us are friends here in Islamabad. Contrary to what people believe, we have a vibrant music scene in the capital, so it’s only natural that I would collaborate with the talented musicians here.”

The ‘Maza Muft Ka’ lyrics highlight the effort put into making music, so that listeners think twice before taking a “free ride” and downloading pirated copies of songs and albums. “The issue was that message-based songs tend to be quite dull for the listener. If the song is too serious, listeners wouldn’t play the song in their car or when hanging out with friends, even if they agree with the message. We decided to make a song that could be fun and still get the message out. So we decided to produce a satirical number,” Haroon elaborates.

So how was the song composed and recorded? “We decided to meet up and have a session at producer/recording engineer Taimoor Mirza’s studio. Initially, it was just Abbas Ali Khan, Arieb Azhar, Dr. Masuma, and myself. We threw around a few random ideas for a bit, while Arieb and I fooled around with chords on our guitars. We got the basic chorus finalized – ‘maza muft ka chikh de jao’. We thought that was a lot of fun and the melody quite catchy too. During the next session, I invited lyricist Junaid Azhar to join us. We gave him a rundown of the melody and the basic theme of the song. He wrote some excellent lyrics that hit the message spot on”.

“We sang the main chorus together but came in separately to do our own verses,” he continues. “Jazz singer Philip Nelson, who has appeared on Pakistan Idol, was visiting from Karachi and we invited him to the studio to join us. I sat with him and we came up with a catchy little verse in English that fits very nicely in the song and really suits his voice.”

Talking about the music video, Haroon says that it complements the song’s satirical style. “The video quite cleverly highlights the concept of piracy and its negative effects,” explains the singer, who also directed the video. “We show a character dressed like a robber who represents piracy and the illegal downloader. He has a special gun that sucks the music and life out of the artists and turns them to stone. And then he spews that music back out and parties with his friends. Finally, when he has turned all the artists to stone, his music stops. His friends all leave him because he is music-less. He goes back to the artists to suck out more free music but they’ve turned to stone. This gives across a very important message: the artist cannot create music in an environment where there is 100% piracy”.

With ‘Maza Muft Ka’, these singers hope they can inspire their audience to be more aware of the consequences of copyright infringement. “Save the music and support copyright,” Haroon urges listeners. “You’re supporting Pakistan’s artistic and cultural heritage.”

- By Sameen Amer

Instep Today, The News - 26th April, 2014 *

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