I remember back in 2014 couple of songs which were almost a must in Khalid Malik's Breakfast show on city FM89. Thanks to them, I came to know about Maha Ali Kazmi and after quite a while I came across her sound track with Aamir Zaki "Aaj Sunn k Tumhara Naam". It was after listening to this track that I wanted to meet this lady in person and have little chit chat cum interview with her. I was very fortunate that I got to meet her, on my maiden Karachi tour which I made for Junoons reunion concert since we were official merchandise partner of the band. It was a gig by Kashmir at local cafe and I approached her to find some slot for an interview . Although it was our first meeting but she was really humble and give a nod to be interviewed.
In this interview, Maha Ali Kazmi shares her views about the music industry, her future plans, and more.
When did you find your interest in Music and who inspired you?
I think I got very serious about pursuing singing when I was 16. I had formed a band and we had performed at a couple of gigs in Karachi. We used to perform a lot of rock covers and we drew inspiration from a lot of bands like guns n’ roses, pearl jam, etc.
Did you take any formal training?
Yes I have been training for a few years now.
Your favorite Pakistani musician?
How was your working experience with Aamir Zaki ?
It was good. I loved the song Aamir wrote and I’m glad I got to lend my voice to his composition. It was a song Aamir wrote for an album we were working on. This was the second song of the album that we recorded. We never finished the album... and I left for Melbourne. It was a beautiful song even then. But Aamir has lots of unreleased songs that he never released for reasons only he would know.
He once gave me an unreleased album of his that had the most beautiful songs on it. I used to listen to it in my car. He should have released these songs in his life time
Do you think nepotism exist in the music industry?
I don’t think so. I believe what counts is skill, dedication and hard work. If it does I won’t know because when I entered the music industry I came from a non-industry family background and my personal experience has been that our work speaks for itself.
Music in Pakistan is more of a journey than an art form, how would you describe this experience and what lessons you learned during this time?
I consider myself lucky to have gotten the opportunities that I did. I learned a lot from each song that I worked on. Working alongside other musicians teaches you that there is always a new approach or technique to writing a song and that I believe has helped me evolve as a musician.
Why don’t you make public appearances frequently?
I’m more comfortable, at least for now, writing music and releasing songs. I believe in making public appearances when I’m actually promoting an upcoming single. Otherwise I’m generally a very private person.
What is the best part of playing live?
Getting the audience to respond to you in real time.
Most of the musicians have shifted focus to acting. Do you have any plans of working in a movie or a TV serial?
No, not at the moment. I have had the opportunity to act in a Pakistani drama serial which was an amazing experience but I feel more comfortable singing and would like to focus on music for now.
Today particularly, when music has been tied to tragedy, why is it so important to make sure for people to come together through music?
Tragedy is a form of a muse for art. Art always arises from tragedy. Social or economic factors have no bearing on the quality of work that artists put out. Some of the greatest movies of all time actually came out shortly after or during the worst war of world history like Casablanca and that is also true for some of the most treasured songs ever produced.
Are you working on new music?
Yes. I’ve recently finished working on a couple of songs and I am currently recording another single that I’m very excited about.
Where do you see yourself as a musician in the next few years?
I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it.
The choice of majority of audience is obsessed with Bollywood music and Pakistan music has a totally different genre? As a musician do find it difficult to connect with the people because of this fact?
I believe it’s great that we have found originality as Pakistani musicians. Our music has uniqueness and draws inspiration from local and traditional music, which brings us together and unifies us. That does set us apart from Bollywood music.
How are you seeing this revival of Music? Do you see role of corporates in speeding up this revival?
I think in the absence of record labels corporates have supported music a lot. However, they have also brought Pakistani music to a point where we are producing less original content and more remixes of old songs. This I believe needs to change.
What is the best and worst thing about being Maha Ali Kazmi?
Well the best and worst thing about me is that I’m very particular about everything related to the music I put out. Sometimes you’re misunderstood especially as a woman in the music industry because when women are particular they’re viewed instead as too demanding.
Please give a small message for your fans.
It may sound almost like a cliché and it is but you have to listen to your heart and your intuitions. The greatest risk in life is that you won’t take enough risks.