Yahya Farid Keeps The Tradition of Bands Alive with Khushbu and Soulful Sounds!
Music. The world is swooned by soulful tunes, telling tales and melodies. The melodic options are endless, but every now and again there’s a song that comes along that stays with us.
The rise of Pakistani talent in recent years has brought us many melodic tunes. The sounds of such Pakistani legends still flow seemlessly, surpassing borders, politicians and much more. Iconic vocalists like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Medhi Hassan & Noor Jahan blended they symphonic vocals with heartfelt poetry & melted the hearts of millions.
There is one such individual trying to do much more, armed with his guitar and band formed at University. Almost aimlessly titled, 21 The Band. Yahyha Farid an aspiring musician who brings us his brand new offering fittingly titled ‘Kushbhu’. Yahya, inspired by experimental rock bands like Noori, & Junoon who reigned in the early 2000’s is clearly visible in 21 The Band’s musical offerings.
I recently caught up with Yahya Farid for an interview. His approach impressed me, fairly well-known he seemed connected with his music. Passion is evident in his answers, admirable.
“Yahya Farid Tells All in Compelling Interview, talking passion and music in Pakistan”
How did 21 the band first came about?
I formed 21 way back in 2010 while studying at a University in Lahore namely, LUMS along with Moheet and Taimoor. We three were hostilities and had a special love for late night jams. I had composed few tracks and was looking to get them recorded. So we three made a rough structure of the songs, contacted Ali Mustafa (producer of Ali Zafar) and got Dil Ki Baatein, Taaray and Challo Utho recorded in two months. Soon we were called by Gumby and Zeeshan Pervez for their famed show, Uth Record Season 2 where we performed Taaray and the song would go on to define our identity. Recently, we have had two new members joining the bands. Naveed Masood is on guitars and Athar Saeed is on drums. We are in the process of recording few new tracks.
What ignited the passion of music for the band?
We all have grown up listening to the early 2000s rock bands that originated in Pakistan such as Noori, EP, Call, Jal etc. My biggest inspiration in music was always Noori brothers who I completely adored. In college, I had a cover band and we would perform noori songs. I would try to act like Ali Noor on stage. 21s sound also resonates that great era when distortion guitars were kept upfront and vocalist would sing with energy and aggression.
You have been a band for a while, what would you say has been the hardest moment for you?
Hardest moment for the band was to keep on making music after graduating from a university like LUMS which creates business managers ambitious to earn never ending money. When our passion got into conflict with our profession, keeping up with both of them became a very difficult and tiresome task. Moreover, peer pressure lead to insecurities. We had to keep up with our salary, perks, benefits, promotions and all which was all the time being compared with our fellow grads. Moreover, recording costs went high as studios shut down and few remained. It was a bit scary in the start. Eventually we had to plan out which we did.
Where did the inspiration for songs like Taaray and Khushbu come from?
Taaray and Khushbu are very special songs and both have a very different feel in them. While Taaray will make you jump and feel happy/positive, Khushbu is a very mellow emotional track which requires one to really focus to feel the emotions in it. But the similarity in the songs is that listeners can easily connect with the songs, its lyrics and the melody of the track. They are easy to sing and understand.
I composed Taaray while travelling in a rickshaw in Lahore. I had a habit of singing songs while travelling on Rickshaws. Best way to spend the open rides. I remember seeing glowing stars on a hotels logo. The first line of the song just randomly came in my head, Taaray ab tor ke laon kahan se” and when I reached hostel, I directly went into my room, picked up my guitar and tried to remember the melody I was singing in the rickshaw. There was it! It sounded so catchy, jumpy, and positive. The song had to be recorded.
When we went to studio, we planned to give it a rock feel.
Khushbu is a very recent composition of mine. I have become fond of reading Urdu poetry. I normally grab a poetry book from my mothers collection and just try to compose something. But I always fail. One day, randomly opening Perveen Shakirs book Khushbu I came across this poem and I thought it was very simple and a good melody can be constructed on it. The melody came very naturally to me. There is something in the words.If they convey a message and if the composer can connect with that message, the melody comes from somewhere.
When people listen to your music, what would you like them to feel?
I want people to easily connect with my music. I want them to feel at ease while singing my songs regardless of how good a person is at singing. I don t like complex melodies and words. Music shouldn’t be a barrier. How many kids will end up singing or playing Coke Studio songs? I want to make simple yet catchy songs that can inspire young fellows to pick up guitars and try to cover them. Something we did as kids.
Aadat is a three chord guitar song yet with the entire world in it! Moreover, I want people to enjoy my music.
Personally I am a huge fan of Pakistani bands and musicians alike. What would you say the future of Pakistani bands can be perceived as?
Future of Pakistani bands is very scary and challenging. Not many bands are left anymore. There are limited platforms. Yet I also feel that the level of musicianship has also fallen and the quality of music is below standard. Most indie bands are doing the same kind of music with loads of reverb, delay and some Sufi poetry in it. Where are bands like Noori and EP? I have not heard a good album coming from a single Pakistani band.
Khushbu is unique, and is originally a poem, can we expect more renditions in the future?
Khushbu is the first time I sang someones poem. I loved the experience and would want to continue doing it. Yet I also feel its a very challenging task. The challenge is to do justice to the writer and the words. Moreover, not every poem can be easily composed.I find it very hard to compose on poems containing very difficult vocabulary. I tent to keep lyrics simple yet meaningful.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians out there?
My message to aspiring and young musicians is that never make music a compulsion. Rather music should be an enjoyable process. It shouldn’t lead to one feeling miserable because of the complexities and hardships involved in it. I am a full time corporate-criminal lawyer and my livelihood is based on my legal practice. Yet I have never felt that my profession has conflicted with my passion of creating music. No one has to wake up at 8 AM and perform a gig. Isn’t it better to work in the morning and play music in the evening?
Music does not pay me much. My legal career compliments my passion and helps me financially in pursuing my music. Some entertainment journalists even call me, Lawyer by Day, Musician by Night and I love this! Younger musicians should not sacrifice their professional career or education for music. We will have to multi-task today to face the challenges and keep on moving ahead.
Yahyha Farid along with 21 The band are a talent to be reckoned with. With Pakistani bands slowly becoming a thing of the past (Unbelievably Heartbreaking!) It’s good to see a younger generation keeping the tradition alive and are currently taking over Pepsi’s battle of the Bands. I certainly look forward to more music!