Finding your true calling with ‘Mil Gaya’
Presently co-judging Pepsi Battle of the Bands, Strings (featuring Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia as founding members) have released their new track, ‘Mil Gaya‘, from their sixth studio album, 30.
Having released ‘Sajni’ (a new version of a song that made its debut on Pepsi Smash), ‘Urr Jaoon’ and ‘Piya Re’ from 30 so far, the band is now back with its newest song, which is co-written by Bilal Maqsood and Anwar Maqsood. To discuss the song, Instep caught up with the duo and the interview began in their video editing suite, part of the Strings studio/office/jam room.
I heard the song for the first time as an audio single, sans music video with Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia sitting right next to me. This was followed by the exclusive preview of the music video for the song, which has been directed by the hugely talented Kamal Khan.
Sung entirely by Bilal Maqsood, the song is yet another example that whenever Bilal Maqood gets behind the mic, he cannot go wrong. Like most Bilal Maqsood songs, this one too has a metaphorical identity and it is where he succeeds as a songwriter.
As he sings at one point during the song – “Ik din baithe baithe yoonhi hans para tha main/yaar mujh peh hanste/un peh hans raha tha main/nah jaane shor men/kaisi yeh chup chhaayi” – you know that it could well be the evolution of the band critics were waiting for.
As for the music, the production is crisp with a very eighties rock feel to it even as it tells you almost instantly that this is very much a Strings song, a sonic trip they enjoyed making. Without watching the video, I asked Bilal, who wrote most of the lyrics, what the song is about.
The artist responds: “’Mil Gaya’ – when that thought hits you that this is it. It could be a dream; it could be a moment that gives you goosebumps and at that point, you know this is my calling. You are lost and this song is about finding that calling, that moment of truth.”
As for the video, we know that Strings have been experimenting with directors (barring Jami with whom they share a close relationship and who directed ‘Urr Jaoon’ from 30) for this record such as Yasir Jaswal (for ‘Sajni’).
With that approach in mind, they reached out to Kamal Khan, a sensitive director whose storytelling ability remains underrated even as he has a Lux Style Awards nomination plus an award to his name.
As Bilal remembers, Kamal first asked for the sentiment behind this “romantic” song. “I told him to forget the romance and focus on the key element, which is the moment when you realize this is my calling.”As Strings note, Kamal went back to the drawing board and came up with a concept that complemented the song and did justice to the track. “He’s young but he’s very creative and sensitive,” notes Bilal. And as Strings reveal, the idea for the music video came from Kamal Khan.
Shot in Lyari, the music video for ‘Mil Gaya’ follows the story of a young teenager, who, like many, has a dream but is holding back on them even as he watches others do the same. In the case of this teenager, the dream is boxing, to be able to punch it all out and he does manage to achieve that dream ultimately. The people featured in the music video (barring the parents of the teenager), from the boxing coach to the boxers, are not actors, say Strings.
Kamal Khan has managed to knock it out of the park and has created what is one of the best music videos of 2018. The song speaks on one level, the video on other and is inspiring in the real sense of the word.“‘Mil Gaya’ had been made a while back,” recalls Faisal Kapadia. “It was ready.”Though many decisions go into deciding the lead single, ‘Mil Gaya’ is a song whose video depiction had to complement the song, which the band admit Kamal Khan has done.
The decision to not present this (new) song at Pepsi Battle of the Bands season three where they performed ‘Na Jaane Kyun’ and ‘Mera Bichraa Yaar’ in episode three was a conscious one. “We were going in Pepsi Battle of the Bands as co-judges; we didn’t want to play our new songs,” says Faisal Kapadia, adding that they wanted to release their new songs, accompanied by original music videos, on their own.
“We have four more songs,” says Faisal Kapadia about the upcoming material that will feature on 30. “Those songs have been made; they just have to be shot with one video to be edited.”When asked about how a lot of music is electronic-based today and whether Strings want to embrace it, the band maintains that their music has an eighties vibe with little electronic elements because they are products of that era.
“We are not playback singers,” says Faisal. “So, we make songs that we like and reflect what we want to do,” before adding with a laugh, “Okay, maybe I’ll listen to David Guetta.”
Though our interview moved to various subjects, it has to be said that with 30, Strings, who are the top one per cent of the music industry, have set a precedent and they will release all eight songs this year. Will others follow suit? Who knows? But with this song, they’ve added another audio-visual gem to their repertoire.