Zoheb Hassan is back with a bang and refuses to be ignored
KARACHI : We hear the name Zoheb Hassan and we are transported to the 80s and 90s nostalgia. The bright colours, shining lights and melodious voices echo and one of those voices is Zoheb’s. Along with his sister Nazia Hasan, the duo ruled the subcontinent back in the day and became pop icons of the country.
As years have gone by, musically, we hear very little from Zoheb. His first solo album Kismet was released more than a decade ago. But while many may have lost hope of listening to his music once again and the newer generations may have remained in the dark of his musical gold, Zoheb has been working on his new album for about 10 years and is finally set to release it on July 21.
Speaking with The Express Tribune, he said the album titled Signature “will be a compilation of some of my best work to date.” He shared the renowned UK based music director DJ Swami, who has produced leading international artists such as Shania Twain, Apache Indian and Stereo Nation, has played a vital role in the production of this album. Additionally, Fuzon band member Imran Momina aka Emu, has specially composed three tracks for Signature. “There are also classic ballads like Silsalay to modern dance tracks like Kabhi Kabhi on the album,” he added.
Answering the question on many fans’ minds, he said there definitely will be a track in tribute to Nazia. “Actually, one of the most exciting tracks that fans will find on the album is called Sunno Sunno Dance Mix. Nazia had sung alternate versions of Koi Nahi, Disco Deewane and Boom Boom – all three of which have been put into this song.”
While his last outing Kismet didn’t turn out to be a success, Zoheb is optimistic and even said every album is close to him. “The thing is, every album I have done is close to my heart and I always give them my 100%. So, to me, every album is a success in itself. Many songs often don’t attract audience in the first go but creatively, they are the best experiences and I learn a lot from them.”
He continued, “Signature is a break from the teen pop music we did years ago. The music is definitely more mature and adult contemporary in its feel. I feel as a composer I have grown and the music hopefully reflects that too. But at the end of the day the Nazia & Zoheb trademark sound is still there in the current CD, just in a more modern and evolved way.”
In the last couple of decades, and especially since Kismet, his last offering, the music landscape has changed drastically. And with the shift in technology, modes of consuming music and the preference of other genres, it gets difficult for veterans to adjust. Zoheb agrees the music landscape has evolved over the years. “There used to be a time when fans used to listen to various styles of music; there was everything from jazz to pop to rock and even R&B,” he said. “Nowadays, a lot of musicians have shifted to producing the same style of music limiting the listeners’ options and I think this is sad. Everyone should stay true to their roots and to what they do best as I believe that is what fans look for in their icons.
Asked whether he thinks his style of music, the classic pop, would still be relevant in the modern-day music and fans would accept it, Zoheb said Signature encapsulates 10 years of his hard work. “This album is close to my heart as it is an amalgamation of my past life experiences interpreted through music. I feel a lot of people will be able to identify with the emotion and ethos of the album.”
Whenever we talk about Zoheb Hassan, the conversation is bound to go in Nazia’s direction as well. And while she resides in everyone’s hearts and her legacy is still remembered, one may think being associated with the name prohibits Zoheb from going all out and carving his own brand, despite the fact that he has the face, age and experience to back it up. The pop star disagrees. “Nazia will always continue to play a vital role in my music. After the release of our first album we were the South-Asian sub-continent’s first pop icons. I don’t think being associated with her prohibits or hinders my own brand in any way,” he said, citing the 12 gold, four platinum and two double platinum discs he has received during his career. “I am just happy to be back singing and hope that my album is treasured by my fans for the years to come.”
One interesting fact about Zoheb’s upcoming album is that the late guitar maestro Aamir Zaki’s first solo album was also titled Signature. Zoheb denied any correlation with Zaki’s Signature and said, “While I am deeply saddened by the passing of a legend like Aamir Zaki and would like to offer my condolences to his family and friends, the album has been under production for over a decade now.”