Friday, May 22, 2015

New talent on the block: Mashhad Sharyar

cover story: interview

Everyone who followed the Pakistani music scene in the 2000s probably remembers Mizmaar, the Karachi-based pop rock group that released two albums – Kash (2003) and Sitara (2007) – in the mid-noughties before parting ways. Earlier this year, guitarist Kashan Admani and drummer Alfred D’mello announced Mizmaar’s comeback with a revamped line-up; their new vocalist is Mashhad Sharyar, a young singer who recently joined the group, making his debut on their new single ‘Jee Longa’. Us caught up with Mashhad to find out more about this rising talent.

Us: Please tell Us a bit about yourself.
Mashhad Sharyar: I was born in Karachi. We basically are from Occupied Kashmir but my grandmother belongs to the Gilgit-Baltistan province. I have one younger sister and we are just two siblings. I completed my schooling from The City School and did my A Levels from Southshore. Then I joined the Institute of Business Management (IOBM) for my degree in finance, which I switched to media studies, as it is closer to my passion.

Us: Tell Us about your musical journey so far.
Mashhad: I started my journey with an underground band that I made with my friends. It was amazing how in almost no time we were opening for big names like Ali Azmat, Sanam Marvi, Josh, Noori, and many more! But slowly I got bored of doing covers. I wanted to sing something that I had made, so I told my friends to record this song that I had written and change our band’s name, as it was a difficult one to remember. We went to the studio, recorded the song, and started doing shows with a new name. People started to take us seriously; they enjoyed our music more and danced more. I went to Islamabad with this band to open for Ali Azmat once again, and when I got back, I was invited to the studio by Kashan Admani. I recorded around two or three projects with him. After that I was offered to be the lead vocalist for the band called Mizmaar and I said yes!

Us: How did you become interested in pursuing music? What inspired you to become a singer?
Mashhad: Since the age of nine, I’ve wanted to sing. I have never been able to answer, even to myself, why I started taking singing so seriously. I guess it was meant to happen. My father loved singing and so did my mother. I guess that’s how I got it. When I turned 15, my friends pushed me to make a band and that is when I started to take this profession seriously.

Us: How did the chance to join Mizmaar come about?
Mashhad: It all started with one composition called ‘Rani-e-Kashmir’ that I wrote and composed when I was 16. After hearing me in the studio over different projects, I was offered the job by Kashan. I thought about it and said yes.

Us: How does it feel to be a part of Mizmaar? And what do you bring to the band?
Mashhad: It’s wonderful to get this chance at a young age. I am learning so much as every day goes by. I believe I bring the diversity. That is the reason they chose me. By diversity I mean the ability to do different music genres. Previously Mizmaar did a lot of rock; however this time around it’s very different and I am very excited to see the response of all the Mizmaar fans.

Us: Has your life changed in any way since you joined the group?
Mashhad: No, not much. Now I am just caught up with music. The rest is the same. When I’m free, I still hang out with the same people, still go to the same places, and still live the same life. So, no, it hasn’t changed much and I am very grateful for that.

Us: ‘Jee Loonga’ is the first Mizmaar song with you on vocals. Please tell us about the song.
Mashhad: ‘Jee Loonga’ is a song about living your life the way you like, the way you want, and the way you love. We wanted a song that sounded current. Kashan quickly came up with this acoustic riff that just sounded perfect. Then Alfred came up with the idea of incorporating dubstep in the chorus. I chose the theme of the song and contributed towards the melody, which we then collectively refined. The final song, after the intensive production period, sounded great. It had the punch, the feel, the charm, the aggression. And we thought it was a great single to relaunch the band with.

Us: How soon will you guys release your next song? And when will the full-length album be released?
Mashhad: Very soon. This next song is going to be a big surprise for Mizmaar fans; I am very certain of that. The album will be released after a couple of singles.

Us: What kind of music do you listen to? Who are some of your favourite bands and artists?
Mashhad: I love all kinds of music. I like whatever sounds good. My favourite bands are Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Queen, and from the newer acts I like Muse, Radiohead and Porcupine Tree. My favourite artists are Jeff Buckley, John Mayer, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and I also love what Pharrell does. Ed Sheeran is a great artist too.

Us: Mizmaar recently performed live for the first time in seven years. How did the show go?
Mashhad: We were all very pumped up. All we wanted to do was make sure that people enjoy the show when we perform live again. It felt great singing as Mizmaar. The crowd loved it. We had a really nice debut gig. Hopefully there are many more to come.

Us: How do you feel about performing the band’s songs that you weren’t originally involved in creating?
Mashhad: For me, it’s a great experience. I grew up listening to a few of those songs, and it is funny how I didn’t know that I would be singing them live to all the fans one day.

Us: Do you have any acting aspirations?
Mashhad: No, not really. I want to focus on singing and making myself a better vocalist, but you never know what the future holds.

Us: What can we expect from you in the coming months?
Mashhad: Lots and lots of music. I hope everyone will love our music and the fact that it’s diverse.

Rapid fire

Us: Who was the last person you called? And what did you talk about?
Mashhad: The last person I spoke to was my dad. I was at the recording studio and he wanted to know where I was.

Us: When was the last time you used a pen or pencil to write something down? What did you write?
Mashhad: I wrote down the lyrics of a song. I can’t recall what I had written; apologies for that.

Us: What do you have in your pockets right now?
Mashhad: Lyrics of the new song we are recording.

Us: Which movie did you watch most recently?
Mashhad: I watched this movie called Whiplash. Loved how they showed the amount of hard work it takes to become a virtuoso musician. Didn’t dislike anything as such about it.

Us: Would you ever consider getting a tattoo? If yes, what would the tattoo depict?
Mashhad: I wish I could, but my mother would kill me. So, say no to tattoos.

Us: Do you have any pets?
Mashhad: Never had any pets but my cousins did, so we would end up bringing it home all the time. It is a poodle named Shifu.

Up close

- I love... my family.
- I dislike... liars.
- I want... respect.
- I wish... for the world to live in peace and harmony.
- I fear... losing a loved one.
- I hope... to never hurt anyone.

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 22nd May, 2015 *

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